While today just a tiny portion of alcohol sales is conducted online, the category is poised for significant growth in the coming years.

Keith Anderson, Profitero

Keith Anderson, senior vice president, strategy & insights, Profitero

Plenty of factors point to increasing demand for alcohol sales online, with the ongoing shift in retail sales from brick-and-mortar to digital perhaps the most influential. A growing roster of retail chains with click-and-collect programs and the emergence of liquor store delivery services are certain to drive more alcohol sales online.

An expanding population of drinking-age consumers is another key driver. It’s hard to overlook the coming of age of 75+ million millennials—and that’s just the US. These tech-savvy consumers expect to buy beer, wine and spirits online just as they do any other product.

As consumer demand increases, online models evolve and efforts to sell alcohol online expand, adult beverage brands that address and meet changing consumer needs, wants & shopping patterns will be best positioned to tap the online alcohol opportunity.

Take control of your product content strategy by ensuring consistent, accurate and detailed product content across e-commerce channels.

Below are 10 ways alcohol brands can maximize e-commerce sales, taken from Profitero’s recent white paper How Alcohol Brands Can Tap the e-commerce Opportunity.

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  1. Implement a Digital Branding Strategy

Take control of your product content strategy by ensuring consistent, accurate and detailed product content across e-commerce channels. Breweries, wineries and distilleries must optimize the appearance of their products on e-commerce sites like Amazon, grocery retail sites, on-demand mobile apps, as well as their own websites.

  1. Supply Stellar Online Content

Share the story behind the bottle, drink recipes or party planning tips. Online consumers want relevant content at their fingertips and providing stellar content is where alcohol brands can excel.

  1. Partner with Digital Disruptors that Matter

Alcohol delivery apps, like Drizly, are fueling online alcohol growth in a big way. Alcohol brands must figure out ways to collaborate with these up-and-coming technology platforms. Drizly provides extensive shopper analytics and custom insights to brands.

  1. Support Traditional Retailers’ Online Efforts

As grocers like Kroger, Meijer, Walmart and more build their online offers, supplier support in helping them move up the learning curve is crucial. According to Sheldon Kail, Director of Customer Solutions at MillerCoors, “We work closely with traditional retailers to provide solutions that drive online beer adoption. We not only can provide basic images, but we can provide video content and enriched media to elevate the credibility of these retailers as a destination for beer, both online and in-store.”

  1. Have an Amazon Strategy

Half of all CPG sales growth between now and 2018 will come from e-commerce—with Amazon driving the majority of online growth. Therefore having an Amazon strategy must be at the center of every supplier’s e-commerce plan. Amazon already delivers alcohol in a handful of markets through its Prime Now service and it’s likely only a matter of time until Amazon figures out a way to disrupt the alcohol industry much like it’s done with many other retail categories. Keep a close watch on what it’s doing in the UK, Japan and other markets.

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  1. Consider Creative Partnerships

Take a page from the Deliveroo/Heineken tie-up in the UK. Finding ways to tie an online alcohol purchase into a restaurant or meal delivery service could provide incremental growth opportunities and online learning experiences. Other delivery apps that are starting to think about this include UberEATS, DoorDash and Grubhub.

  1. Engage Consumers Through Digital Initiatives

A key way alcohol brands can influence online sales is by building better consumer engagement. Find ways to pair experiential marketing with digital programs. Just like a brewer wants to be part of bar-room talk, so too should they strive to be part of many social media conversations.

  1. Launch an E-Commerce Hub

Where allowed (barring any legal restrictions like in the
US), alcohol brands should consider operating their own e-commerce hubs. One such example is the “Discover the House” exclusive online hub recently launched by Pernod Ricard to expand its e-commerce offering in the luxury market.

  1. Pay Attention to Emerging Brands

Don’t overlook small-brand activity around the globe. The craft beer industry is exploding. Look at what BrewDog has done to quickly ramp up as a leading UK brand, with consumers flocking to Amazon to buy it. Any “challenger” brand could be the next BrewDog. What’s more, US legislation appears to be easing in a move intended to let craft breweries sell directly to consumers and deliver across state lines.

  1. Monitor Online Alcohol Activity

Online is rapidly evolving, which makes it even more critical
to keep tabs on what moves competitive brands are making, how retail models are evolving, and what’s happening on Amazon. Identify new product arrivals and understand what brands sell best online. Monitor trends in pack size, pricing and promotions. These are just the kinds of benchmarks and analytics that will keep alcohol brands a step ahead of the competition and make you a good online partner.

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Profitero provides retailers and manufacturers competitive intelligence on online pricing, promotions and product assortments.

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