How to sell alcohol online in South Africa

How to sell alcohol online in South Africa

This is a guide on how to sell alcohol online in South Africa.

2020 has shown most people that online alcohol shops are essential, fortunately for you, there aren’t many online alcohol stores in South Africa. More and more people are switching over to buying staff on the internet, big online stores like Takealot may sell alcohol but a person who is specializing would likely get better recognition as the go-to guy when it comes to buying alcohol online in South Africa.

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Here is what you need to do in order to be able to sell alcohol online in South Africa.

1. Register your business

Registering a business only costs R175 when done through the CIPC, do it via FNB and you will automatically get a business bank account.

2. Get a liquor license

Thought you could go around this since this will be an online store? No, you can’t. You will still need to get a liquor license, although it will be different from other licenses because you may plan to sell alcohol throughout the country.

3. eCommerce website

You will need to have an eCommerce website, a website that will allow you to sell alcohol online. eCommerce websites are generally not that expensive unless you are looking for a very custom solution. Promta Web Services charges are R6 500 for a fully functional, well designed eCommerce website. However, if you are looking for something really custom then you must be prepared to pay close to R50 000 or more.

4. Operating premises

You will need to have operating premises, a warehouse where you will store all your inventory. Your warehouse should receive security upgrades and be big enough to handle all your inventory and staffing needs.

You can start off in your garage, provided that the liquor license grants you that.

5. Inventory

You will need to buy the actual inventory; this will require you to buy in bulk from manufactures and it can set you back more than R60 000.

6. Delivery vehicle

You will need to find a way to get the alcohol into the hands of your customers. For this you can have your own vehicles and hire people to deliver for you, or just create a platform that allows people to deliver for you with their own cars, and have you pay them on a per delivery basis.

Tips to make your business successful

1. Offer a wide selection

Don’t limit your customers to a few options, make sure that you offer as much as brick and mortar liquor stores or even way more. This will attract different kinds of customers to your website and people who have a unique taste will turn to your online store.

2. Do fast deliveries

Imagine buying alcohol online today and having it arrive after 3 – 5 working days, that’s just not it, a lot of people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about buying alcohol, they just buy it and it’s often for immediate consumption. Try to make sure that your alcohol will get to your customers in 2 hours maximum. It would be even better if you shorten that to one hour.

3. Focus on one geographical area

It’s often best to focus on one geographical area when starting out, this is mainly because of number 2 above. How can you deliver in 2 hours to a customer that is based in Eastern Cape if you are in Gauteng? Start by focusing on your district. Gauteng has 5 districts, if you are in Ekurhuleni then start off serving people in Ekurhuleni. You can scale up your operations by opening a warehouse in every other district that you want to operate in, this will allow you to make deliveries on time.

Advantages of selling alcohol online

The main advantage of any online business is reach; online businesses have massive reach potential in general. Everyone in your district may buy alcohol from your online store, you won’t have to position your shop in every township or suburb within your district.

You will save a lot of money because you will likely start off operating one warehouse and you will save on labour; you will need a warehouse manager and just few people to handle the day to day operations.

There are not a lot of online alcohol sellers, you will face less competition and will benefit from being an early adopter.


This was a guide on how to sell alcohol online in South Africa, this guide covered pretty much everything you need to know. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. hi do you still need a liquor license even if it is online

    1. Hi Angelique, it is my understanding that you should apply for a liquor license even if you sell online. However, the regulations are different, the license is applied for your operating or administrative premises

  2. Hi. When you already own a liquor license for off consumption, do you need another license or special license to sell online as well>

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