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Coupang Eats set to begin alcohol delivery

Worries persist on increased risk of serving alcohol to minors

By Ahn Ju-hee

Published : March 17, 2022 - 15:24

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Coupang Eats logo Coupang Eats logo
Coupang Eats, the food delivery service launched by South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang, is getting into delivering drinks.

 The company said on its webpage earlier this week that it will start allowing restaurants signed up on the platform to sell alcohol, in an effort to help them increase sales. The new service will be rolled out within the first half of this year. 

Coupang Eats had kept alcohol off the platform since its debut in May 2019. The move was in contrast to its top two rivals, Baedal Minjok and Yogiyo, both of which kicked off liquor delivery not long after the National Tax Service gave the green light in July 2016. 

Many reasoned that Coupang’s nonalcohol policy stemmed from the company’s contract system with its delivery drivers. While Baedal Minjok and Yogiyo partner with intermediary delivery agencies, Coupang Eats signs direct contracts with gig workers, meaning that Coupang has to take direct responsibility for problems that arise between drivers and customers.

But its policy has been met with persistent disapproval from restaurants that specialize in late-night snacks -- menu items that would likely boost sales when paired with soju or beer. As restaurants increasingly grapple with higher delivery costs that eat away at their margins, Coupang Eats seems to have rethought its policy. 

Yet not all retailers are welcoming the change; the biggest reason being an increased risk of serving alcohol to minors. 

Baedal Minjok requires those who order drinks on the app to verify their age and for drivers to also check ID cards when handing over the food. But with contactless delivery in high demand since the onset of the pandemic, delivery drivers are increasingly facing resistance from those who refuse to show up to their doorsteps.

By Ahn Ju-hee (dianahn@heraldcorp.com)