Even before the pandemic of 2020, beer distributors across the country had begun investing in and adopting online ordering platforms for their businesses. The onset of the pandemic amplified the need for online solutions as shutdown orders and the desire for contactless transactions grew across the country. As the beer industry looks to return to pre-pandemic growth, online ordering appears to be a fixture that is here to stay.
The adoption of e-commerce and online ordering platforms is certainly not unique to the beer industry. Young adults spend hours online every day, and online ordering has become the norm for consumers shopping for nearly any good or service imaginable. For businesses, business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce sales surpassed $1.3 trillion in sales in 2020, an 18% growth over 2019. Additionally, more than 70% of all consumer purchases are now digitally influenced in some capacity.
Fortunately for beer distributors and retailers, there are numerous benefits to using online ordering systems. Some of these benefits include:
|Weekly Pre-Sell||Monthly Visits|
|Total Time to Service||120 min|
|Time Spent Order Taking||108 min|
|Time Spent Selling||12 min|
|Cost to sell||4 x $45 = $180|
|Weekly Pre-Sell||Monthly Visits|
|Total Time to Service||60 min|
|Time Spent Order Taking||0 min|
|Time Spent Selling||60 min|
|Cost to sell||2 x $45 = $90|
|Item||Scenario 1||Scenario 2||Scenario 3|
|Salesperson annual loaded cost||$65,000||$70,000||$75,000|
|Stops per day||15||15||15|
|Cost per stop||$17.33||$18.67||$20.00|
|Expense per stop saved (gas, maintenance, etc.)||$1.00||$1.00||$1.00|
|Total savings per stop||$18.33||$19.67||$21.00|
|Monthly savings per retailer||$36.67||$39.33||$42.00|
Over the years, beer distributors have expressed justifiable hesitation around some attempts at e-commerce growth. These hesitations include concerns about the perception of reduced service levels to retail customers as well as fears of marginalizing or even trying to eliminate the distributor's role in the overall distribution system. With so many examples of e-commerce negatively disrupting other businesses, it's essential for the beer industry to collectively work together to carefully consider the impact of any new business models on the industry.
Thankfully, the adoption of online ordering platforms for retailers to utilize is the next advancement in a string of many industry innovations over the years. It's been more than twenty years since distributors started using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to simplify the invoice and paperwork process with retailers. Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) has made the payment process quicker, easier and more reliable for thousands of retailers and Advanced Ship Notices (ASNs) have made the process at the backdoor more streamlined. Online ordering complements your existing sales and ordering processes, giving your retailers more options and making the entire process more efficient.
In 2020, the BIECC hosted an education seminar focused on distributors building and expanding their online ordering capabilities. You can view the seminar here.
This webtool is meant to serve as a follow-up to that seminar and a resource for distributors looking to implement or expand an online solution. The corresponding pages will focus on:
Special thanks to all of the BIECC brewers, distributors and associate members who contributed to this project. For more information about the BIECC, its' membership or current projects, please visit our website or contact the BIECC staff manager Dave Christman.