​Ways to Craft Online Portals to Best Fit Needs​

With state laws dictating how your beer can be sold, creating an online portal to help boost sales can be multi-faceted.​

In the March/April issue of Brewer, we explored “Insights Into Transforming Online Sales”​ with multiple breweries and had even more insights to share.

Iowa doesn’t allow Direct-to-Consumer sales, but Big Grove​ Brewery in Iowa City said the allowance of pre-filling crowlers and growlers and selling them online helped set the tone for sales each weekend.

Big Grove also created a “drive-thru” every Saturday for two months, explained Danny Standley, a managing partner. Customers would present a ticket number and could pick up their beers during a three-hour time window.

“It was great because we didn’t have to run the beer through the canning line, causing extra expenses,” he said, saying that the brewery could continue to have special releases this way.

“Customers were excited when we were able to do the drive-thru. It pushed us to come up with new ideas and how to keep beer drinkers excited about Big Grove,” Standley said. “Each week a new beer was released to keep customers engaged. They wanted to see what was next.

“Customers were a lot more engaged and it was a customer and staff motivator too. We’d be dancing outside as people pulled up for the Saturday drive-thru. Customers were gracious with gratuities and mentioned a highlight of the week.”

The brewery moved its event director into taking on some of the online and marketing sales which included the Saturday drive-thru.

Santa Monica Brew Works recently reached 10,000 followers on Instagram which unlocked the platform’s “swipe up” feature on IG Stories.

Marketing Director Johnny Wardell said the brewery now can use custom web links to send users directly where they want to go with just the swipe of a finger.

One of those links can be to the online portal for next-day shipping across California. To ensure compliance, Santa Monica Brew Works partnered with a shipping service that specializes in alcohol delivery.

READ MORE: 4 Things to Do Before Setting Up Direct-to-Consumer Shipping

​”​Necessity breeds innovation,” Wardell said. “The global pandemic forced us to find new ways to get our products to consumers. To navigate the unique challenges of a quarantined customer base we focused our efforts online — launching a web store that allows shoppers to safely order items for brewery pickup and delivery.

​”​We’ve all endured that frustrating feeling of trying to navigate through a clunky and confusing online store. Our goal was to deliver a seamless shopping experience – simple, smooth, and as intuitive as possible.​”​

Standley said that expanded conversations for beer delivery and online ordering are happening legislatively for Iowa now, but right now beer online sales are to-go and curb-side pick-up only.

“That said, before COVID, we were only selling our merchandise online,” he said, so the past year has created some new avenues to explore.

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