Strengthening your on-line buyer expertise
Breweries across Australia have made the switch to online sales platforms during the pandemic, but for those who have chosen to keep their platforms up and running, it can be difficult to get to the next level.
Easy-to-install online shopping platforms like Shopify were a lifeline for many smaller breweries during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, and platforms were launched in a rush to take advantage of the opportunity that online sales can offer, when the venues are closed.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a huge opportunity and overall it’s worth it. For small and independent brands, it’s a way to take over communication with your customers and develop that direct relationship, ”said Dr. Jason Pallant, Senior Lecturer in Management and Marketing at Swinburne University.
However, there are challenges in the online space for breweries, which are more of a small business, in an area that is well developed for many other industries.
“The big challenge is for consumers to be more experienced and have high expectations for an online and delivery experience,” he said.
“As consumers, we are pampered by the big boys who make two-hour deliveries, and on that basis our expectations are expected to increase.”
Other difficulties lie in the inevitable reliance on third parties, not just when shopping online with platforms like Shopify, but also with delivery companies.
“It can be difficult to rely on outside parties or deliveries to complete a transaction and a delivery – we saw AusPost struggling to make deliveries late last year and the consumer is returning to the brand they bought from even if it doesn’t. ”their fault.
“We expect so much and it is not always entirely under the control of small independent breweries.”
What can breweries do to increase their online presence?
Nathan Bush, Director of eCommerce Strategy at eSuite and host of the Australian eCommerce podcast Add to Cart, said one of the best things a brewery can do initially is attract the professionals.
“I always believe in starting simply and keeping your differentiators,” Bush said.
“After all, you’re great at making beer, you probably aren’t great at making websites. Focus on making great beer.
“The areas I normally look at when businesses start or want to scale their ecommerce are primarily people. Do you have the right people around you to run this thing?
“It’s not just about creating a website, it’s also about product and product content. Customer service. Financial reconciliation. And if all goes well – can your team scale with your sales? You don’t necessarily have to hire more people to fill in the gaps, hiring the right partners, agencies or freelancers can be a good start without overwhelming yourself. “
Of course, when COVID-19 lockdowns effectively wiped out local revenue, breweries turned to online platforms to sell beer. While many more established brands were already well established, smaller local brewpubs were sent in to get their websites in order and many turned to Shopify, which has its limitations but has proven to be a lifesaver for many companies.
“Shopify is a great place to start for most online businesses. They are now also serving larger customers with their Plus product, which is worth considering if you have around $ 2 million in sales.
“Shopify can be a challenge for companies with a high degree of customization or international presence.
“However, this is often offset by a great partner ecosystem and community where everyone is constantly learning from one another.”
However, if a brewery wants to focus on online platforms as they future-proof (and pandemic-proof) the business, it may also be worth it to have more control over your online point of sale.
What little things can we fix to improve UX?
User experience (UX) is an important part of online sales. A well-run website with a focus on usability and searchability is key to a good online experience.
It is also important to resolve disruptions or annoyances and to respond to complaints from customers about the above points.
“Consumers are fed up with going to a website, adding a product to their shopping cart, and right at the end of the transaction, seeing that it is out of stock.
“We expect to see actual inventory live, and whether it’s in stock or not, that’s a challenge – having a warehouse or storage space that is linked somewhere to our website,” said Dr. Pallant.
Nathan Bush agreed, saying that technically this can be a tricky part for a small business, but it’s worth being right.
“The greatest thing is usually the integration into existing systems such as point-of-sale or inventory systems.
“When a customer starts from scratch, we usually try to make the e-commerce business and technology as self-contained as possible and then integrate them over time, once the business model has proven itself and further investments are warranted . “
Having add-ons and pop-ups telling customers not to forget what’s in their shopping carts can also increase the chances of a full sale, but there’s a fine line to walk to with these add-ons going to avoid user annoyance with the process – ultimately ruining the goal of a simple and smooth user experience.
Gifts and supplies
The beer industry is currently an exciting and interesting place, said Bush, and the online presence of a brewery can be strengthened through communities.
“We are dealing with a product that is bought regularly, has an infinite number of flavor combinations and can build a really strong brand. Beer clubs and subscriptions are a great way to get customers to buy regularly and build a community around the experience.
“Also, giving is a really strong category for beer – especially when it comes to packaging interesting and personalized products,” said Bush.
The potential in gifting and e-commerce – where online sales at Coles Liquor grew 72 percent year over year in the most recent quarter – can present challenges in maintaining brand standards.
“I was thrilled to receive a mixed box that looks good online, but it comes and the box is dented, which affects the customer experience,” said Dr. Pallant.
“The packaging for deliveries is much more important than we think. That is part of the customer experience and the experience of buying and consuming this product, arriving at it and unpacking it.
“You have to think a lot about how to get this product to someone safely and how to deliver it so that it becomes an experience.
“It is also an opportunity if you can do something unique in this area.”
For example, unboxing videos on social media are very popular and people are more likely to share their experiences and discuss them online when they have a good experience. This is especially the case with blockages, said Dr. Pallant.
“For those of us who are banned or temporarily banned in Melbourne, this has been our only retail experience for quite a while. We want this excitement and visual design that we would get from visual stores through these delivery processes.
“If people can’t come into the brewery and experience this physical space, what can you include in the delivery package to get a feel for it?”
An evaluation or evaluation system or the sending of e-mail inquiries for evaluation can also give a company valuable feedback and keep the dialogue with the customer open even after the purchase.
The final component of the users’ online experience, of course, is delivery, which comes with its own problems.
“More and more customers want fast delivery as well as flexible delivery – many of us have had enough of the Australian postcard that said we tried to get you at 11am when the people before the lockdown did weren’t at home, “said Dr. Pallant.
“Providing some options or flexibility in delivery is now becoming an expectation.”
The online space, from the technical details of website design to providing great delivery experiences, is a great opportunity for breweries.
“It depends on experience – especially with beer,” said Bush.
“The ability to try new and interesting things is not for that moment of tasting – it’s the moments of sharing, be it in Facebook groups or at a local BBQ, and the opportunity for people to have a unique and interesting experience to make that it will live much longer than the moment of drinking. “