Even though the Delhi govt’s is definitely a positive one, there needs to be some more thought on a model that is sustainable and long-term.
There’s great excitement all around after the announcement of the home delivery of liquor by the Delhi government. Social media is ablaze with very popular F&B folks rejoicing about this fantastic new move! It is indeed an exciting prospect and there’s a lot of cheer about it, especially since lockdown has been tough on all of us. There has been minimal social gatherings and parties have become a thing of the past – no late nights at the clubs, no pub hopping with friends, no after work evening gatherings at a colleague’s place, no wine socials, not even a proper family dinner with near and dear ones. To top it all, liquor shops have been shut and even if they are open, the risk of going there, standing in a queue, and finally coming back with the brand that is available, is not worth it. Home delivery of liquor through an app at this opportune moment is certainly welcome.
However, as the saying goes, ‘there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip’. The delivery model although a superb move does pose way too many questions like the increase in cost, logistics, serviceable pincodes and so on. Then of course comes the point about safety in terms of who is buying through the app as well as the issues of expenditure, which will definitely go up with the convenience, as we have seen with online shopping. Vinod Giri, Director General of CIABC, says, “It’s early days yet to say how this will pan out finally. The L-13 license provision was there earlier as well but due to various logistical issues, it couldn’t get implemented. If home delivery is being planned as a distress solution to overcrowding at liquor shops, it won’t help because delivery has a charge attached to it and unless that cost is adjusted in such a way that neither the consumers nor existing trade is forced to bear it, the model will lose traction soon as shopping normalises after Covid. At the end of the day, paying delivery charge of Rs 50-100 for buying a bottle of alcohol that costs around ₹500-700, is just unsustainable!” I couldn’t agree more.
I think the convenience of being able to order the brand of your choice sitting at home is unparalleled. It also eases out so many gifting options as well since what normally stops me from gifting wine is that I cringe at the thought of having to go to one of these ‘thekas’, which is perhaps also why most of my wine is bought at airport shops and the lockdown has run dry for most of us who had no other alternatives. There will also be curbs in the sale of bootleg liquor, which is rampant across the city, especially in times like these. If we look at it from the convenience perspective, it does work for the middle class in general so that a family or friends can have a get together at the convenience of their home. Minakshi Singh of Sidecar feels, “It is definitely a progressive move and good for the entire industry in general!” In fact, most women friends of mine feel that way mostly because they don’t like stepping into a theka or standing in those queues, and also since they have to deal with buying whatever brand is available. Ruchi Munjal, ex-hotelier and owner of a travel company, feels, “I guess it’s a great move and would definitely avoid gatherings. Imagine getting liquor at home just like we order food on Zomato!” However, Pavneet Kaur Sachdeva, a PR professional,has a slightly different take since this will be done by some liquor shop or the other and not something like an Swiggy or flipkart, “I don’t know how our government and liquor shops will manage the safe delivery for women in Delhi because a delivery guy will come from some theka nearby and he will have all the information of a woman’s house with a contact number. We all know women get judged when she goes to a liquor shop so I don’t know how a delivery guy will think and act if he is seeing a woman ordering alcohol.”Valid point.
Distribution would be a problem and there could be so many repercussions of people going out of business too. Rajiv Aneja, an F&B influencer and resident of Delhi, adds: “Even though the move is good, it should have been given to all the retailers instead of a chosen few. Also, an app-based purchase means sharing one’s drinking habits and information with the government. I don’t know how many people will be comfortable with that.” Fair point. Karan Dua, a food influencer, adds to this by saying, “After hearing the news about the Delhi government allows home delivery of liquor for a second I thought someone either shared fake news or it’s a meme. This is a great move by the state government but in reality, it is not going to be as easy as it sounds. First, liquor stores across the city won’t be authorised to carry out home delivery of liquor; only those having L-13 license will be. This move will definitely boost the government’s revenue especially at a time when Delhi’s economy is struggling given the COVID-induced lockdown that has been in place since April last year.”
One of the reasons touted in the news piece for the home delivery of liquor has been “to avoid heavy crowding at the wine and beer shops”. However, Vinod Giri sums up all our excitement and apprehensions with something which is really more of the kind of solution we need, wherein a proper model needs to be in place, not a handful of retailers: “A good, viable model for home delivery of liquor is the need of the hour. Compared to a local liquor shop, monitoring of age limits, and other things are far cleaner on an online channel where money is transferred through a bank or e-cash and every transaction leaves a digital trail. It should be designed as a new channel with incentives for all its supply chain constituents, and not as a stop-gap solution which is clearly not sustainable.”
Even though the move by the Delhi government is definitely a positive one (and kudos to them!), there really needs to be some more thought on a thorough and viable model, which is sustainable and long-term. So, Delhiites, don’t start celebrating yet although it won’t be long before we do!