Once the pandemic emerged in the US and quickly spread through the country, online sales of alcohol shot up 300% in April. In fact, we were quite parched for a swig of the strong stuff; alcohol became the fastest-growing category within the consumer packaged goods sector.
A lot has changed since 2020, and much to be stressed about. Most of us have needed quite a few drinks over the last year. According to a survey, there has been a 14% increase in alcohol consumption since the pandemic emerged.
And because bars, clubs, pubs, and restaurants have been closed for excessive amounts of time, going out with the gang for a pint or cocktail stopped, and went virtual, with Google Hangouts and Zoom parties replaced real world celebrations and get-togethers.
Meanwhile, consumers moved over to ecommerce en masse. While the elders are restocking their wine fridges, youngsters are ordering rounds of beer and spirits.
Such a unique situation has resulted in many alcohol companies venturing into the direct-to-consumer world.
Traditionally, alcohol companies rely on liquor stores, retailers, and other third-party distributors to push their products. But now, we’re seeing brands of everything from beer and wine moving into ecommerce, opening up shop, and selling to customers in new ways for them.
Hosting your brand on an ecommerce platform, such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC), unlocks additional sales to a wider range of customers, strengthens a brand’s loyalty schemes, and gives the brand more control – from each aspect of the customer experience to distribution considerations.
Here are some additional strengths that are unlocked for alcohol brands when they decide to jump online and carry out ecommerce.
Fresh-faced alcohol companies – just like younger generations – first think of the internet, of ecommerce, of building decent customer experiences, or making ordering alcohol easier. Platforms like Drizly (supposedly the “Amazon of liquor”) and Saucey have become go-to places to order alcohol online.
Platforms like these provide consumers with the ability to shop by brand as well as the ability to search for the exact product they want, and then these platforms find a nearby retailer with the product in stock, and then arrange delivery.
Competing against the popularity of these alcohol platforms, brands who have their own ecommerce platform are able to reclaim a chunk of the share by establishing a permanent place to build loyalty and add sales.
Take control of your brand story and showcase your products in the way that you want consumers to encounter them. Offer recipe suggestions and build product stories.
Build better customer relations
The majority of alcohol producers actually know very little about their customers – especially when compared to other industries like fashion and cosmetics, who are more aware of their customers’ wants and needs.
This is a major stumbling block, given that 79% of consumers believe that personal experiences are just as important as a brand’s products. Having control of your own brand ecommerce site gives you a place to use useful and insightful info on customer data to improve your products and online experiences, such as creating loyalty programs and providing subscription services.
And providing the ecommerce platform, you can enlist the help of artificial intelligence to milk the data for valuable insight. For example, Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s Einstein AI that cleverly picks product recommendations and the most relevant search results.
Manage the challenges
If you distribute and sell alcohol across states and regions, then you are fully aware that the laws that regulate its sale greatly depend on the location. Some states still require customers to pick up their packs of beer from the retailer. And in others, order cancellations are required for when consumers are clearly drunk.
This can get pretty complicated the more states that you cover. Fortunately for SFCC vendors, the ecommerce platform is capable of handling such a complex setup. Within the system all the regulatory details are coded and become applicable based on the ZIP Code of the customer – freeing up time for your employees to focus on other more important and creative aspects of product and experience management.
We’ve already heard from consumers themselves, through various surveys and studies, that they’re expecting to continue buying online even after the pandemic is over and all remaining shops reopen.
And if there’s one thing that consumers would want to have delivered easily, it’s alcohol.