In a short story that might appeal to frat boys, European beer fans and man cellar owners, Heineken started selling their household tap machines and the two-liter drums that work with them online. More seriously, this decision represents the last effort to bring more alcohol sale online, one of the most difficult e-commerce propositions, even so far into the digital age.
According to a report published Monday, June 11 in Digiday, sales will come from Heineken USA’s new e-commerce site, draftforhome.com, and will initially be limited to New York consumers before expanding to the rest of the United States.
“These kegs, which keep beer cool for up to three weeks, are not only filled with beer, but also with two new product lines for the company: cold brew coffee and kombucha,” the report said.
Online sales of kegs would prevent consumers from going to a liquor store and using the services of an intermediary – a step forward for direct-to-consumer e-commerce. But this isn’t Heineken’s first foray into selling beer online. Last year, the company launched “a Heineken-only store at now.heineken.comThe report said. According to this site, deliveries take place in “about an hour”, although online service is not available in all areas. A consumer must be at least 21 years old to pick up beer delivered.
Heineken had also launched a site for Dos Equis beer – Heineken owns a variety of brands – but halted that effort after launching, in April, another e-commerce site that includes Dos Equis as well as “Tecate, Strongbow, Red Stripe. , Amstel Light, Newcastle and Affligem, ”according to Digiday.
Heineken not only wants to sell where consumers are increasingly buying, but the digital channel also helps to accelerate the pace of commerce. “With traditional retail, it takes a long time to get beer from overseas, and you have strict shelves. What you post is what you get, ”Jenna Behrer, senior director of innovation at Heineken USA, said in the Digiday report. directly to the consumer service means Heineken can be quick to market, she said.
Heineken is improving its e-commerce game at a time of significant growth in online alcohol sales. These revenues grew by nearly 33% in 2017, with an average monthly growth rate of 3%, according to Slice intelligence. Much of the credit for this growth goes to the liquor delivery service. drizzle, whose own income grew by around 62% last year, according to the Unit report.
Online alcohol sales in the United States reached $ 1.7 billion in 2017, according to Rabobank. Delivery services such as Postmates and Instacart also provide consumers with digital options for purchasing beer, wine, and spirits.
Yet even with growth and potential, online alcohol sales are relatively lagging behind other forms of e-commerce. “Consumers want food and beverage providers who can anticipate their needs and personalize their experiences, but they’re not getting that from businesses today,” wrote Sean Dunn, chief digital officer at Astound Commerce and former employee. cellar and distillery, in a recent column for Food Diving.
A big hurdle remains in the Prohibition-era regulations that still govern alcohol sales in many states. “For example, only five states today allow the direct shipment of spirits to consumers,” Dunn wrote. “Plus, each state regulates alcohol differently, which adds additional logistical challenges.” The country has come a long way since the days of “Smokey and the Bandit” – that 1977 Burt Reynolds chase film centered on a delivery of Coors beer to Georgia, an illegal trade act at the time – but these laws still have a major influence.
Beyond that, shipping alcohol presents other challenges related to temperature control and the fragile nature of bottles – not to mention the last mile task of verifying that the consumer is old enough to take delivery of the product, Dunn wrote. These factors appear to provide job security for physical intermediaries involved in the sale of alcohol, making it difficult for breweries and other businesses to offer direct services to consumers.
Heineken, for its part, hopes to increase its appeal for e-commerce by enlisting the help of experienced digital operators. According to Digiday, “Heineken is also in talks with other ecommerce sites like Amazon to see what other options might look like in the future, so the company can scale its offerings. Heineken primarily uses Facebook ads to promote sites in key markets, but some event promotions are also planned. “