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Nov 16, 2012

Craft beer ecommerce website offers more

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Since the launch of the South African craft beer ecommerce website and blog, The League of Beers, in August, the business has expanded to include a beer-of-the-month club debit facility and a wider selection of craft beer.

The website now offers a selection of beers from an additional 15 South African microbreweries and one US-based craft beer microbrewery, cofounder and marketing director Rob Heyns tells Engineering News.

In addition to the online electronic funds transfer facility, the beer-of-the-month club debit facility enables members to sign up to receive 12 beers each month from a variety of microbreweries in South Africa and from breweries in Ireland, Belgium, other European countries, the US and Asia.

The website features a selection of beers from more than 20 local breweries, including Darling Brew, Shongweni Brewery, Triggerfish Brewing, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company and Jack Black Beer.

South Africa-based microbreweries Three Skulls Brew Works, De Garve Brewery, Copperlake Breweries, Nottingham Road Brewing Company, Drayman’s Brewery & Distillery, as well as US-based brewery Rogue Ales are some of the 15 new breweries added to the list.

“Craft beer has grown exponentially in South Africa and the rest of the world and we are particularly passionate about craft beers in South Africa,” says Heyns.

He adds that, since the launch, the business has considerably exceeded its sales expectations, indicating a need in the market for an ecommerce beer website.

The made-to-order beer selections, which are sold in batches of 12, are delivered free anywhere in South Africa within five days.

A mixed case of 12 specially curated craft beers is also sold. The mixed-case selection changes every month to keep beer enthusiasts guessing and their palates enthralled, says Heyns.

As breweries continually create new styles of beer, a variety of styles are available through The League of Beers website, including pale ales, amber ales, wit beers (white beers), Belgium and German beer varieties, US and European Indian pale ales (IPAs), stouts, porters and lagers, among others.

Logistics
Heyns says to operate an ecommerce craft beer website requires a dedicated team of employees, an integrated website, a reliable courier service and specialised product packaging, as well as a steady supply of good-quality beer and cash flow.

When The League of Beers website was launched, it was very basic and insufficient to meet customer needs. This required the business to upgrade the website’s functionality.

This was achieved by continually updating it, improving its offering, adding functionality and striving towards growing and achieving an integrated website.

Further, using a specialist courier service instead of a general courier service is important, says Heyns.

The League of Beers uses a specialist wine courier and a large general courier as a backup service provider to deliver its products. Specialist courier services such as wine couriers are preferred, as they commonly handle specialised products.

Heyns further points out that the packaging used by The League of Beers is important, as it serves two functions – it is attractive and helps build the brand and is specially designed to hold and protect the different volumes of beer.

The packaging is designed according to the business’s need to hold the biggest and smallest sizes of South African-produced beer.

Meanwhile, Heyns says a good supply of craft beer, although important, is difficult to obtain, owing to the small production capacities of producers. Cash flow is also a challenging aspect of the business, as a stockholding is crucial to the proper functioning of the ecommerce aspect of the website.

Website and Blog
The League of Beers offers a gateway to a selection of local craft beers and to the brewers themselves.

The homepage of the website features information about the business, the brands of craft beer, the craft beer shop, a blog, a user account and a list of breweries.

Heyns says the brewery industry and beer consumers can use the blog for information, while consumers can browse around the shop before buying their favourite variant of craft beer.

“The goal of the blog is to bring the South African craft brewing industry to the customer,” he adds.

The blog posts, which are written in a personal tone, feature information about current events, the industry, posts by people in the craft beer industry and beer in general.

The most popular products on the website include mixed cases of curated beers, the lager produced by Jack Black Beer, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company’s Indian IPA and Darling Brew’s Bone Crusher (white beer).

Heyns says the business’s target customers are predominantly males; however, he has noticed a consumption trend within the female art and design community, younger people between the ages of 24 and 26, tertiary education students and wine drinkers.

The business aims to enter the aspirational and affluent markets in future.

Further, there are also plans to increase its customer base, product offering and area of supply, service and marketing to become the one-stop go-to website for craft beer brewers and consumers.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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