How Breweries Have Used These Tools for Successful Online Sales

Before the pandemic, ​Topa Topa Brewing was only selling retail merchandise online.

Now ​the Ventura, California brewery has seamlessly ​begun to ​sell beer to customers all over ​the state by switching up its POS for eCommerce.

“This is something we had wanted to do down the road but the pandemic pushed it to the forefront​,” explained retail and community director Heidi McElvaney​. ​”​We plan to continue expanding our online offerings post-pandemic and Shopify seems to fit our needs well.​”

Multiple breweries across the country have found alternative ways to sell both merchandise and liquid that previously may have been sold over the counter at taprooms into some percentage of profit that may have been lost. Quick transitions to new online tools have been a part of those gains.

​McElvaney pointed out that Shopify streamlines the brewery’s payment processing, integrates shipping, and allows them to categorize products by type as different pages.

“[It] makes it easy for customers and creates great reporting for us,” she said. “Shopify also made it easy to integrate our taproom POS (Revel Systems) for pre-order and payment of curbside pickups.

“This allows our bartenders to just use one POS platform and make tracking taproom inventory and par levels very clean.”

For Seedstock owner Ron Abbott, the expandability of Clover — both from a hardware and software/app perspective — really drew the Colorado brewery to it even before the pandemic.

“It’s reliable and intuitive,” he said. “However, we added our online store using Clover applications and had our web store up and running in just a few hours. We continually look for ways to build on our Clover POS system to create efficiencies and drive additional sales.”

Abbott said setting up an online shopping system has given customers another way to get Seedstock beer conveniently and safely.

“Additionally, we use our sales information to help us forecast future demand, so that we don’t run out of one of our flagship beers,” Abbott said. “However, we don’t necessarily use that information to determine what styles of beer we brew.

“In other words, we don’t brew a beer style because it is the latest trend.”

​Stable Craft uses online web platforms that interact with ​its website​ and owner Craig Nargi said​​ a lot of the choices were made for efficiency​ reasons and using fewer resources​ to streamline processes.​

“We had the system in place, we had to alter the menus,” he said. “The biggest issue we experienced was the depletion of inventory and not being able to communicate fast enough when a product line of beer was sold out.”

Some of the changes that Nargi feels will stick are the online reservations with advanced payment ​from consumers ​to ensure that when a table or igloo is held, the service staff is compensated if a customer decides to no​-​show.

Topa Topa had basic eCommerce for just its retail merchandise before the pandemic through Squarespace. Once the pandemic hit, ​McElvaney said they needed to quickly figure out how to ship beer throughout California and how to sell beer online for curbside pickup at its taprooms. “We realized our Squarespace store didn’t offer all the capabilities we wanted or needed,” she said. “So, we integrated Shopify into our existing Squarespace website.”

Switching to Shopify immediately simplified a lot on the back end for the team and its processes, ​McElvaney said.

“Everything is a lot more streamlined and the learning curve was quick,” she said. “We have an awesome, small, nimble team and everyone was totally on board for the switch and learning the new process.

“Throughout the pandemic, our team has been super open and flexible to changes and ideas — not only with our eCommerce but also with all the new regulations and safety protocols. I think our flexibility and being able to pivot and adapt to the changes quickly has greatly helped us continue to operate through this unprecedented time.”

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