The Way Urban Artifact Pivoted Sales from Its Taproom into Direct to Consumer Sales

​Urban Artifact to jump​ed​ on ​Direct to Consumer sales within two weeks of Ohio being shut down and ​the Cincinnati brewery saw a 1:1 replacement in sales for the taproom.

As time has gone on and the taproom has re-opened​, Director of Brewing Operations Bret Kollmann Baker said as​ more people are comfortable going out, ​they have seen a related drop in online sales, “but​ overall the two combined has been a huge boon for our bottom line for 2020​,” he said.

​The brewery’s Head of Sales and co-owner Scotty Hunter said that adding an online shop and maintaining it has helped the brewery​ ​be able to pinpoint specific customers for certain beers.

​”​What I mean by that is, if you are a fan of bananas but in the larger market it doesn’t perform well in traditional distribution, the direct to consumer shipping allows us to more readily get those types of beers to customers that want them​,” he said.​

UA uses UPS for delivery and has a daily scheduled pickup. The brewery also has hired part-time staff to help with packing orders and getting it expedited quickly.

Just like selling across the bartop, DtC increases consumer reach with better margins than sales through distribution.

“Really, the wine industry has been taking advantage of this for decades, it is about time the brewing industry catches up,” Baker said. “There are wineries out there that do less than 1,000 cases a year and are able to sustain themselves because of online DtC sales.”

Hunter noted that although nothing specifically has become evident yet based upon our online sales data, he did add that a younger brewery could see that direct customer interaction and feedback being more valuable right now. since you can not always get that same level of engagement in your taproom.

“It has been fun to see how wide our reach has gotten through with more orders going to a state like North Dakota than I would have imagined,” Hunter said.

​But how to make your DtC work?​ ​Communication​.

“Customers need constant communication​,” Baker said. ​”​Order confirmation. Shipping confirmation. Delivery confirmation. Delay notices. Also, they are impatient. Like hella impatient. So you need to get orders out ASAP, which can be hard if you are doing any sort of release that has 100​-plus​ orders at a time.​”​

​Baker also said to make sure your permits and taxes are in order, which varies by state.

​”​Some states have long lead times on permits. Some have yearly renewals in the spring​,” he said. ​”​Some have nothing. Some have sales tax.​”​

The main focus of ​Urban Artifact at this time is how ​to convey what ​its brand is when shipping a box.

​”​It is some of the same hurdles that you have at retail but there are not as many ready-made solutions such as point of sale materials​,” Hunter added. ​”​We have looked to other online retailers that essentially only live in that space to see what they do when shipping an order to customers and how they try to engage people.​”​

Some drawbacks that Baker said they have been working on to be a better supplier for consumers include cart protection, subscriptions for quarterly/monthly deliveries, online customer accounts for increased customer interaction and loyalty along with finding better pricing for shipping, and always working to increase communication efforts.

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