Ramsgate-based online off-licence The Drink Shop has won a Responsible Drinks Retailing award for its approach to online age verification and fraud.
Satisfactorily verifying identity is much harder online than it is for high street shops, yet is essential when retailing alcohol. The 10-year-old firm has developed its own software application which sits at the hub linking order processing, stock control, accounting,despatch, real-time tracking, marketing and sales. It interfaces with electoral roll and credit databases and builds a profile of the firm's customers, detecting and flagging suspect purchases or possible fraud attempts. In addition, solutions from 192business.com work alongside The Drink Shop's system.
Staff are also trained and motivated to be vigilant and manually intervene where necessary and customers who raise suspicions are telephoned for further investigation. Between January and April this year, the firm says, staff identified and declined 197 orders with an average transaction value of £300.
"Age sensitive retail sectors have a far reaching social and corporate impact. The Drink Shop has created and put into practical every day operation responsible drinks retailing systems which are frequently discussed in internet retailing and drinks industry groups as expensive or elusive, even amongst the big name retailers," says Tim Francis, managing director at The Drink Shop. "Our own staff training and investment in age verification databases and controls — both internal and external — have been our biggest commitment of the year. Alongside this, fraud and address checking procedures fully scrutinise every new customer."
The online retailer, the most visited online off-licence according to IMRG/Hitwise, offers some 3,300 lines and has enjoyed recent sales growth with consumer business up 9% and sales to the trade up 22% in the year to July 2009.