Europe is one of the most important markets for wines and spirits. In 2019, almost a third of the world's wines were produced here. Due to the Corona crisis, the already growing e-commerce in this sector has continued to expand heavily during this year.
Many customers have switched to online purchases and the sales of many specialised online shops have increased between 50 per cent and 90 per cent. Europe's largest logistics network ASTRE already reacted to the current trend in the summer of 2020 and launched the Wine & Spirit service, which is a logistics solution specially tailored to online trade in this segment. It is an extension of the European ASTRE Palet System and designed to complement it in the area of Wine & Spirits.
Since the launch earlier this year, demand has steadily increased. In the context of the Corona pandemic, the service is now proving to be of great benefit, as it includes not only shipping and storage, but also customs clearance and taxation of the goods. All these tasks are taken away from traders, allowing them to ship goods internationally without complications.
During the two lockdowns in April and November, ASTRE members shipped as many wines and spirits to customers as they did during the 2019 Christmas sales, with an overall increase of 50 per cent in the number of bottles shipped. A high demand is also to be expected in this year's pre-Christmas period since orders are currently increasing every day.
One of the main reasons for this development is that people are shifting over to consuming more beverages at home. With the closure of restaurants and bars, many people are now ordering food and drinks online. As sales through restaurants have declined sharply, more and more vintners and producers are now offering their goods for sale directly online and have a correspondingly growing need for fitting logistics solutions.
According to the group’s responsible managers, this is exactly what the service is made for. With Wine & Spirit the ASTRE group reacted early to the trend towards more e-commerce and established a complete package that includes customs clearance and taxation in addition to shipping and storage and thus represents an important pillar for the increasing online trade, as it bundles and simplifies processes. Thus, it offers customers all the services they need from a single source, which makes the offer particularly attractive for newcomers to online trading.
Especially in the important markets of France and Italy, the Wine & Spirit was highly useful to ensure that the changing flows of goods continue to reach their destination reliably. In Italy, for example, an IT platform was established at short notice that allows producers and traders to send their goods quickly and easily with Wine & Spirit. For several years, this service has already been successfully offered in France, where ASTRE's local partners handle the logistics for the large online retailers.
However, challenges are also emerging due to the circumstances. Even though the online trade in wines and spirits still represents a rather small share of the trade in these products in terms of total volume, the shipping volumes in all product areas are higher than ever, which is why most courier and parcel service hubs are already reaching their limits and new staff is being sought everywhere.
Therefore, experienced partners for reliable logistics are more important than ever. By intensive cooperation with its customers, the ASTRE group will be able to support the ongoing transition towards more e-commerce in the wine and spirits business in a reliable way.