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Online-only Vodka sells out two weeks after launch

With consumers becoming more and more comfortable buying online, new avenues of commerce are opening up for different sectors of the retail industry, with businesses that may not have been able to survive online-only previously now thriving.

One area that consumers have been slow to adopt to buying online, however, is alcohol.

“It’s not second nature to buy alcohol online,” said Mitchell Smilovitis, co-founder of pureplay Vodka brand Smilov Spirits.

“People buy goods online, furniture, clothing, and a range of other items, so we know it is not about pricing or even the ability to test product quality beforehand – it is a mindset that says ‘we will go to a liquor shop a couple of days before the weekend and pick up a few bottles, rather than sit at home [and] order a couple bottles of Vodka to be delivered to your door.”

However, the pandemic has changed many consumer buying behaviours, and alcohol purchasing could be seeing a shift to being stockpiled, rather than purchased for immediate consumption.

Margaret River-based Smilov Spirits launched in June 2021, and despite being online-only sold out within its first two weeks, serving a burgeoning direct-to-consumer market the founders believe is ripe for disruption.

“We didn’t want to be a distillery; we are brand builders. We have no cellar door, no in-house bottling facility, we outsource all non-core activities in our business and remain completely focused on our strengths which lie in e-commerce, digital marketing and fulfilment,” said co-founder Mary Smilovitis.

“Our ability to market and use digital and social media channels to connect with our audience, showcase our product, the ongoing story behind it and the people behind the brand is core to how we are growing Smilov Spirits, there is a huge market with digital buyers and we ourselves buy online in the same way we market. We see a brand, we connect with that brand, and we remain loyal to that brand.”

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