Cider Corner: ​Adapting ​to New Sales Strategies

In early March, Ben Wenk started to think about new shipping options. The owner of Ploughman Cider relied heavily — like many cideries — on on-premise sales, where margins are larger and connection with consumers is more fruitful.

But Wenk saw an opportunity and launched the Ploughman brands for shipping through third-party shipper Vinoshipper.

“It has been a huge boost for us,” he said of the Pennsylvania-based company.

Adapting to new sales strategies has been a key to continued sales, especially now as ways to get the product to a consumer have shifted for many cideries across the country.

“We were heavily on-premises when everything went down and it could have been devastating, but that has helped immensely,” Wenk said.

Lost Valley Cider added a mobile phone-friendly advance ordering POS app for curbside pickup to help with sales that may have been lost from consumers that would normally come in and purchase the Milwaukee, Wisconsin brand’s products.

Stuart Rudolph, the company’s Managing Director also noted that switching to packaging what usually was an in-house summer favorite, Cider Slushies, available for carryout since reopening in mid-May has been a positive move for the company along with throwing in growler glass pricing into to-go prices for draft.

For New Orleans’ Broad Street Cider, Jon Moore said that they have shifted over to using invoices for about 98% of sales.

“We had used Square invoices for things like special events or pairings in the past, so luckily both us and our core customers were used to the process,” he said.

Instead of the customer using an online shop, they email in their order and Broad Street will send them an invoice.

“Then we fulfill it at usually a later date,” Moore explained. “It is not as sexy as a website, which most of our competition has shifted over to, but it is a whole lot personal.

“Plus it puts the onus of order entry onto us instead of the customer.”

The additional off-prem sales for Ploughman has helped open up new virtual territories even as Wenk said that the cidery now can deliver to 40 states, plus Washington DC. A promotional “Launch Party” where Ploughman offered deals to consumers via online made a big cut into the margins, but Wenk felt it was a great way to turn some assets into liquidity.

“[It’ll] get folks excited about ordering from us,” he said. “It’s been really effective, short term. We’ll be catering to our new online order customers going forward, albeit at much closer to a retail margin.”

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