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LCBO launches online sales site

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TORONTO—The Liquor Control Board of Ontario launched online sales today with a website that lets people buy from nearly 5,000 products and have them delivered to their home or a local liquor store.

Finance minister Charles Sousa said the creation of LCBO.com shows the government-owned liquor agency’s commitment to evolve and modernize, and will provide greater convenience for consumers.

“The virtual shelf space now available to small wineries and breweries is fantastic,” noted Sousa.

“Consumers who may not have their favourite product at their local store will now have 5,000 products available right at their fingertips, and they’ll be able to find what they need with the click of a mouse,” he explained.

There is a $50 minimum for any purchases through LCBO.com, and purchases could be delivered to a neighbourhood LCBO store for free or to a customer’s home through Canada Post for a $12 fee plus tax.

Postal workers will have to ask for identification or return the liquor to the postal depot for customer pick-up.

The online sales site will be a huge boost to Ontario wineries, breweries, and cider producers, predicted LCBO president and CEO George Soleas.

“If I was a small brewery or small winery, and was only able to deliver to five or 10 LCBO stores, now we’ve opened the entire province to that small brewery or winery,” he said.

“So if you’re participating with e-commerce, you can have your products delivered now to anywhere in the province of Ontario.”

Wines from British Columbia and Quebec also will be available at LCBO.com thanks to an agreement reached last Friday by the premiers of the three provinces, added Sousa, who made some online purchases himself this morning.

“You can also identify product by region, so I actually used Niagara as one region and the Okanagan from B.C. as another region,” he noted.

“And of course it’s not just wines; it’s beer, it’s spirits, and a host of other products that are available.”

The LCBO.com site also will be good for suppliers of alcoholic beverages from around the world who are not well-represented in LCBO stores because they don’t meet the production quotas needed to be listed by the liquor agency.

“There are no more quotas for these products as long as they’re willing to participate in e-commerce,” said Soleas.

The LCBO said 800 of the products available online will be exclusive to LCBO.com and won’t be available in any of its 655 retail outlets.

The online portal already lists more products than are carried in any LCBO store, added Soleas.

The agency said LCBO.com eventually could list up to 16,000 products for sale.

The LCBO reported record sales of $5.6 billion in 2015-16—up 6.8 percent over the previous year.

It paid a dividend of $1.9 billion to the government—an increase of $130 million.

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