How to Boost Your Bottom Line: E-commerce, Own Your Online Sales

COVID changed the way consumers get their hands on your product by expanding craft beer’s online presence. Learn the value of selling online and why it’s important to keep ramping up these efforts.

Webinar

COVID changed the way consumers get their hands on your product by expanding craft beer’s online presence. And it’s not going away any time soon! E-commerce: Own Your Online Sales webinar with John Kelley from Craftpeak, Jackie O’s and DSSOLVR will dives into everything you need to know about how to leverage e-commerce for your business’ growth. Learn the value of selling online and why it’s important to keep ramping up these efforts.

Watch the Webinar here

Transcript

Andrew: Let’s dive into this! I’d like to welcome everyone to the 2nd part of a 4-part series on How To Boost Your Bottom Line presented by Craftpeak, Craft Beer Professionals, Perkinson Co, and Arryved POS. We’re excited to have you join for E-commerce, Owning Your Online Sales. And just a few reminders before we get started: if you have any questions, please drop them in the Q&A area, and heads up there may be too many questions for our team to answer during the session, but we’ll make sure someone reaches out to answer post-Webinar. We are recording this webinar—it will be sent to your email later this week, so be on the lookout! 

Now I’m excited to introduce a lot of great people for you today. John Kelley has dedicated the last years of his career supporting entrepreneurs and startup companies through consulting, mentorship, and direct involvement. John is currently the CEO of Craftpeak, a B2B digital services company based in Asheville, North Carolina that has provided cutting-edge web e-commerce solutions to over 1800 craft breweries worldwide. Prior to founding Craftpeak in 2016, John earned his degree in mechanical engineering and worked as a Technology Consultant for Accenture, a sales rep for VC firm Endforce, and as Director of Product Development and Strategy for tech company Galaxy Digital. John is an avid biker and outdoor enthusiast, and it’ll be good to see you in a couple weeks, John. 

John: Thank you, Andrew! 

Andrew: You’re welcome. Art Oestrike graduated from Ohio University before purchasing the downtown Athens bar that would become Jackie O’s. When Art’s mother died in 2005, just 6 months after purchasing the bar, Art rebranded the business to honor her memory, creating one of the Midwest’s most highly esteemed beer brands. Jackie O’s expanded its original brewhouse in 2009, added another Athens production facility in 2013, and now operates 5 locations throughout Ohio. The brewery exceeded 20% annual growth from 2013 to 2017, and has leveraged its e-commerce presence to host one of the most highly engaged member programs in the craft beer market segment. 

Prior to opening DSSOLVR with partner Vince Tersey, Mike Semenec spent 8 years working in design and at ad agencies working with clients including New Balance, Carnival Cruise Lines, Progressive Insurance, and the CDC. Mike met his co-founder while the 2 were working at a liquor store in Boston, and their shared love of craft beer led to a home brewing project that ultimately resulted in the conception of DSSOLVR. From its taproom in Asheville, DSSOLVR has garnered awards and industry-wide recognition for its digital brand presentation which I highly recommend you check out on Instagram. 

So, John, everybody? Are you ready to get this started? 

John: Let’s do it, yeah! Andrew, thanks for kicking it off, man. Happy to be here!

Andrew: I’m excited to learn from you! 

John: All right, well, let’s jump straight into it. Andrew, thanks for the introduction and looking forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks at CBC. Guys, we’ll just give you a quick overview of Craftpeak and then we’ll kind of get into the meat of the conversation around e-commerce and owning your online sales.

We’re a technology company out of Asheville, North Carolina. We are specifically focused on the regulated beverage industry. We build technology to solve problems for people, then we teach people how to use it, and help them implement it. As Andrew was saying, we work with about 170-180 beverage companies—mostly in the US, but a couple of the UK, and 1 or 2 in Australia—and really what we help them do is, you know, breweries are great at creating that in-person experience in the taproom. We want to help them extend that to all the other meaningful connection points online. So that would be things like sitting down with them and helping them figure out e-commerce, direct to consumer strategies, membership and subscription, shipping and compliance, inventory and point-of-sale integrations, marketing and professional services, and then something that we’re just starting to roll out now is essentially DtC experiences through a 3-tiered system. So those are some things that we’ll be launching here in the next couple of weeks. 

But, for the point of this conversation, we’re really focused around e-commerce. And folks, I know that there has been a lot of buzz about e-commerce. You probably know it’s tough to get away from it over the past year, but I think what I’d love to do is just take a big step back and talk about what’s happening with e-commerce globally, because those are all things that have a huge impact on our market right now. 

So when we think about e-commerce globally, there’s really some significant shifts that are happening right now. I think oftentimes we have a tendency to think about our industry in regulated beverage and the changes that are happening there because they’re so dynamic, but a lot of those things are also happening because of this greater wave of e-commerce globally that’s occurring. So what’s fascinating to me is that basically right now, all of the retail dollars that are spent across the world, out of every $100 spent, $19.50 is spent online. That is a 48% increase in e-commerce in less than 2 years, and that’s expected to continue to grow into 2024. Then if you see what’s happening in the US e-commerce market, basically back in 2018 we were at about 9.9%, as of last year we were about 14.5%, and we’re expected to be close to doubling that by 2024. So huge growth, and what we’re talking about here is enormous numbers.

So that’s about $5 trillion in global e-commerce sales! I didn’t have a 4th grader around me, so I had to look it up real quick and remind myself that a trillion is 1 with twelve 0’s behind it. Any incremental change in that number is a huge number of dollars. What we’re talking about is massive shifts—this is a tectonic shift that’s occurring across the globe.

Now, what does that mean for our industry? Well, in our industry we’ve got about $256 billion in terms of US alcohol sales. That’s a fairly static number. We had a huge growth in that number last year, but that was still about a 2% growth, and I think that was the most we’ve seen in the last 20 years. So, you can figure that $256 billion is about where the alcohol beverage industry was in the US last year. In 2020, with the help of COVID, we saw a lot of advancement on the e-commerce side and growth that was probably between 400-600%, depending on the resources that you’re looking at. 

Wine is still the strongest category. They’ve been doing e-commerce basically for 20 years. The California Wine Institute is helping drive legislation to change a lot of the direct to consumer walls. Last year they reported $3.2 billion in sales for direct to consumer shipments. That comes from Sovos ShipCompliant. 

Then, spirits! Ready-to-drink cocktails were some of the fastest growing segments last year and the projected e-commerce is going to be 7% of all alcohol sales by 2024. So if we’re thinking that basically all e-commerce up until 2020 was right around $4 billion, to think that we’re going to have $12 billion of growth in the next 2.5 years, when it took wine 20 years to get to $3.6 billion, to know that we’re going to have $12 billion of growth in this category in this segment is just absolutely astounding. I couldn’t put more exclamation marks behind this because I think this is something that everybody needs to be paying attention to. This is the information that can really direct some strategies for the business and we’re not the only ones that see that there are billions of dollars literally that are being invested into the market from private equity firms from VCs, from banks that are looking to get involved in some really important ways here. The acquisition of Drizzly for $1.1 billion from Ubereats is just one of those. Across the segment we’re seeing all kinds of investment being made and last mile delivery services—things like Instacart, online grocery sales—those are all things that also carry over into our industry.

So what else is happening here that’s driving this? Well, not only do we have this huge demand for e-commerce, it’s consumers that are driving this as well. It’s the way that we’re changing our buying habits that are also contributing to these numbers. The recent statistics say that 57% of people prefer to shop online. The reason for that is as the dynamics are changing for us, we are looking for convenience, we’re looking for access, we’re looking for something that’s safe and fair in terms of buying, but we’re also looking for authenticity. We’re more discerning about the products and services that we buy. We want to know who’s making them, we want to know if they share our core common values, how they’re doing it, are they doing in a sustainable green way? It’s more important for us as consumers to have that connection, have that information. We also like our personalized shopping experiences. So many of you are probably involved in subscription programs. You know, I love this stat that I found related to this report where they say 69% of Americans admit to having multiple subscription programs. I think it’s hilarious how they kind of turn that: I don’t know if we have a bunch of closet subscription programmers out there that are just like “No, we’re really in 3 or 4 but we’re only going to admit to 2… ”

So, 2 years ago this number was closer to 27%, so we’re just seeing vast growth in terms of people’s participation in subscription programs. We’re buying online, those things are delivered regularly to our doors, every day there’s a new program that’s popping up there, and anything you need could be handled in a subscription program now. 

Multiple fulfillment options. So not only is everything delivered to your door, but we as consumers are looking for easier ways to access, more convenient ways to access. So shipping: the ability to pick up from a location. Delivery. All of these things are important components in this omni-channel model where we’re looking to connect with customers. 

Something else that’s really interesting is the Nielsen data that came out at the beginning of this year. It showed for the first time ever the segment of food and beverage online was now the largest, overtaking health and beauty for the first time. And what the analysts are saying is that there’s really no looking back from there. So it’s about 44% of all the dollars that are spent online are now being spent on food and beverage and that segment’s expected to continue growing.

Okay, so you guys can see I’m not an artist. Mike, who’s a brilliant artist, is—I’m probably scaring you with this—but I was trying to think of a way to show these waves building on top of one another. So what I’m talking about here is, the stuff that’s going on in global e-commerce is having a huge impact on everything that’s happening in terms of the way we purchase things as humans, connect with brands, consumer demands are shifting, we want more access, we want more authenticity, we want more convenience around this. What’s happening in craft beverage with that? We’re at $4 billion in terms of online sales, going to somewhere near $17 billion over the next 2.5 years. These are huge tectonic shifts that are occurring that really are having a huge impact on our industry. 

So what is the opportunity for a beverage company or brewery? Well the first thing to remember…  So I think we’re all familiar with the adage that maybe came from Microsoft or IBM, I can’t remember what it was, but way back in the day where they said it’s basically 5-7x more expensive to go out and get new customers than keep your existing customers. Well I couldn’t find that exact quote from back in the day when I looked for it—it actually brought up an Office quote from the TV show—but this is one from Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company. (By the way, these are also the folks that invented the net promoter score. So for you keeping track out there looking for fun tips, that’s where these guys come from.) What they were able to kind of prove in their research is that it’s 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing customer. And while this is common sense to a certain extent, I think that we have a tendency to also think about this in terms of other markets. Oh, that makes sense for software companies, or that makes sense for this or that. No, that makes sense for every company. It’s always much more expensive to develop a relationship with a brand new customer than it is to retain an existing customer, and that becomes really important. 

In fact, it doesn’t take all that much to increase profits. In fact, if you just increase retention by 5%, which is also one of the deliverables from this report, you’re able to increase profits between 25-95%. Now, that’s because it’s so expensive! There’s so much impact load that goes into acquiring new customers, that once you get them it’s much more economical to keep those customers. So I just want to leave you with that thought for a second and we’re going to talk about all the ways that we leverage technology to engage customers and around the programs that could be meaningful for you and your customers that happen to be online. 

How do we go about doing this? Well there’s a lot of different ways to do this, but it’s really about creating those meaningful connections with your customers that extend the brand experience online. The way that we typically work with organizations in the beverage industry is to understand what their goals are. I’ve listed a couple of the techniques at the bottom here, but essentially, it’s not like if you just do all of these, you’re going to have some magic bullet. Unfortunately I can’t tell you that, but for each brand I guarantee that one or a combination of these work very effectively to help you create that engagement.

So just to walk through these a little bit: Membership clubs are a great example of where you’re creating more engagement with your customers. As we turn it over to Art and Mike here in a little bit, Art’s going to share some stories from his membership program, The Imperial Scouts, and how important that is both to their business and to the consumer relationship. So we think membership clubs are a great way to recognize and reward your top supporters. It gives them an opportunity to have a deeper, more meaningful connection with your brand, and for those people that are most passionate about your brand, it gives them the rewards that they care about. Maybe that’s first rider refusal on beer releases, special access to events, or things that are meaningful that really build the engagement, build the love for the brand, and when you do that with your most passionate supporters, they’re going to bring other folks to the table. So we love membership programs because they’re a great way to recognize and reward.

It’s also great from a business perspective, because oftentimes membership programs require a yearly fee to be a part of the membership program. The brewery has that cash up front which is a great way to fund the program and make sure it’s an amazing experience, and then you’re providing rewards to your members and you’re also selling beer at full margin, too. So it can be a great way to both recognize and reward, and it can also be a great way to support high margin cash flow opportunities for the business. 

Subscription programs are similar but can be a little bit different. Subscription programs, as we’ve mentioned, with all other consumer goods—and it doesn’t just have to be consumer goods. Netflix is an awesome example of a subscription program. My business partner was telling me of one last week: “Yeah, I get my toilet paper delivered every month. It’s a program called Tushy.” I was like that’s the most adorable subscription program name I’ve ever heard! So subscription programs in wine and beer are very similar, but these have been around a while in wine. What we see in beer is our brands leveraging our technology where they might do a mix pack where they want to pick out their favorite 12-pack online. They make it from a collection of different beers that are available, and then once they pick it out, they send this every month, and it then becomes a recurring transaction where they’re paying $35 every month to have this pack delivered to them. 

We have some other subscription programs for other breweries where they wanted to do more of an Amazon Prime model, where you pay $99 a year, and then additional subscription advantages on top of that. So this has been really fun, this is an evolving opportunity for a lot of beverage companies and it’s really fun to see the interesting and creative ideas that are coming out of this. But subscription programs are definitely on the rise and one of the coolest things about recurring income—and this is what all technology companies have recognized over the last 20 years—is that repeatable income then allows you to be more predictive in terms of the income stream that’s coming in. And if you can count on that income, now you can get more strategic with the money that’s going to be generated from that program next month. So therefore, you can plan ahead with some of the strategic initiatives. Obviously, the more that’s planned out, or the more you feel secure about that revenue, the farther you can plan. 

Virtual beer releases are the next one. So this would be converting from a real world beer release where maybe the line’s wrapped around the building on a Saturday morning, and transferring from that real world program to an online one. This would be where you decide that once your beer makes it through a QA process, we’re gonna go ahead and release that, pre-sell it online, and it doesn’t even have to be in package yet. You can go ahead and prioritize your highest margin sales channels first, make sure that you’re taking care of your memberships, make sure that you’re taking care of the public, and then you can prioritize your other channels at that point—wholesale and down the line. So that would be virtual beer releases! Some of those can get very competitive which requires special technology, but this is something that our brands do on a regular basis. 

And then the last one here is direct to consumership. So right now in the US, there are 9 states where it’s completely legal to set up a direct to consumer relationship. There’s about 14 total, but it depends on if your state is one of those that also provides direct to consumer opportunities for others. So it’s kind of a reciprocity rule there, but it’s a great way to open a new audience or get your beer connected with consumers in that state. And it’s essentially getting set up as a direct to consumer retailer in that state, and then getting established with a common carrier. UPS is the one that is doing it the most right now—you’ve got to get an alcohol specific license, and then you’ll have to also make sure that you’re keeping up with the reporting and the compliance with each state that you’re kind of dealing with. And Art will be able to talk about that one a little bit as well. 

Those are all direct to consumer programs, so when we’re talking online sales we’re really talking about consumer sales from a brewery directly to their customers, and the benefits are once again creating that great brand and hospitality experience in-person, and now being able to extend that online to all the meaningful connection points with your customers. You’re able to support all of your sales channels, not just the ones that you had in the taproom. One of the distinguishing factors here of direct to consumer is that you are able to control the experience, you decide the experience and connection points that you want your brands to have with your customers, and you’re also able to then own the customer relationship. So, if you’re selling through a marketplace or something else, that is definitely e-commerce, but that’s a little bit different than direct to consumer, and you don’t have control of the experience or the customer relationship in those scenarios and you’re typically giving up some margins to do that. So driving high margin sales is definitely one of the benefits.

And then all of this data that you’re capturing! The consumer data, the transaction data—those are all key insights to run the business. So all of these are major benefits of direct to consumer sales. 

Okay, I know I hustled through that and we only have 40 minutes here today. I would love to expound on any of those topics—we’re very passionate about it, love the opportunity of e-commerce, and cannot believe in our lifetimes we’re seeing that shift unfold in front of our eyes. I grew up before the internet, maybe some of you did as well, but to see our buying habits and what we did as kids completely change, I think it’s really cool. But, instead of hearing it from me, what I’d love to do now is introduce Art from Jackie O’s. 

Art’s gonna give you a little introduction of Jackie O’s based out of Athens, Ohio. They do a lot of business in Ohio, they’ve got a great membership program, launched DtC, and then we’ll also bring in Mike at the end from DSSOLVR. I would love for you guys to hear directly from breweries, and feel free to hit us up with questions. They are great resources— Mike and Art—to answer questions on how they’ve employed these solutions for their brewery. So, Art, without any further ado, brother. Turning it over to you, man. 

Art: Hey thanks, John! Appreciate it. And I want to say thanks to everybody for hosting this and for all of you who showed up to be here.

Jackie O’s started in late 2005, so we’re going to be 16 years old sometime later this year, which is kind of crazy. John kind of touched on growth and where that’s gone over those past 16 years, but it really started as that brewpub experience. The experience where John was talking about you bring everybody in, you host them in your seats, feed them, and wine and dine them! So we’ve established that long ago in this tiny little town that houses the other Ohio University. We’re a very small town in Appalachia, we’re 3 hours from Pittsburgh, 3 hours from Cincinnati, and 3 hours from Cleveland. So equidistant to the middle of nowhere, actually! 

We’ve grown, like John said, into a production brewery. In January of 2013, you could find Jackie O’s in 2 brick and mortar buildings. Today, you can find us in over 4,000 in the state of Ohio. Throughout those years, we cultivated a pretty amazing fanbase by creating world-class beer of all different kinds, and played with the membership program way back when, but we weren’t really equipped to handle it at that point in time. 

We’ve been working all year on spreading our wings and flying to a much bigger population in Columbus—they’re the Ohio University Bobcats. There’s a statistic that there are more Bobcats alumni living in greater Columbus than there are people in Athens County! So we’re really looking forward to putting this facility in downtown Columbus, opening sometime in 2022. John, let’s go ahead to the next slide… We won’t be forgetting about where we’re coming from, either. We’re from Athens, our world headquarters will continue to be in Athens, and we’re really proud of that. Excited about spreading to a bigger city for once. 

Over the years, starting in ‘09 maybe late ‘08, we’ve done these beer releases. And during these beer releases, we had people wrapped around the corner, wrapped around the block a couple times, and a couple of the lines had 600-700 people in them! Those events are fantastic, but they’re also quite a lot of work with not that much face time with our best customers. I’d see a lot of these customers in that line, and every 3rd month or so I’d see them in those lines, and get to talk to each of them for 30 seconds or a minute, as would most everybody on our team on those days. Well, with starting the Imperial Scouts program—I’m wearing a nice branded hat from the Imperial Scouts right now, if you can’t tell, underneath this bridge that I drove under last night—and we started the Imperial Scouts program with a little over 200 people in late 2019. Much like anything is with business—your product is a very important thing, how you support what you do in the community is a very important thing, your customer service is very important—but there’s also a bit of luck that goes with that. So I’m really thankful that we started the Imperial Scouts when we did, because 3 or 4 months after it started, we had our relationship with UPS, we knew how to do direct to consumer shipping already, we had all the compliance and all that stuff in order. So as the pandemic hit and everyone was staying home and they weren’t driving 3 hours from the metropolises around us, we were able to ship directly to them. We really didn’t miss a beat there, and it was a really amazing thing to happen and a bit of luck that happened in that process to be able to launch right into that when we initially said we’re not going to jump into direct to consumer shipping just for the Imperial Scouts. But of course life changes and circumstances change. 

Our program with the Imperial Scouts was put together as a system where every 6 months the Scouts need to come to Athens and empty their lockers. We built these lockers on pallets, and the lockers can be moved from our warehouse into town to our locations to make it real easy on bigger weekends. But we created a system where the Scouts can buy all releases—they get first crack at all product releases. So something passes QC and we offer it to the Scouts via online purchasing—both the exclusive ones for them, and for all other products they get first crack at it. If they choose to purchase, those products go into their lockers. They can come and pick up their lockers whenever they want. They set up a time, they choose for example: “I want to go to the Public House and I’ll be there at 2:30 on Tuesday.” So we’ll set them up with reservations and really get one-on-one time with them for the first time ever. So in a weird fortuitous way, we’ve been able to give our best customers a better experience when they come down here as a result of this program. Which, like John mentioned, prioritizing highest margins and things like that really play into that, and then gives the consumer that authentic experience that was hard to come by when there were 300 people running through our walls overnight.

John: That was one of the things that was almost a little bit counterintuitive to me when we were talking about this. I think one of the fears that some of the breweries that we’ve talked with over the years have is that their culture is about that in-person release experience, it’s about line culture, it’s the opportunity to have that tailgate experience. And I think that was really enlightening to hear that from you the other day. The problem was there were just too many people, and even though I wanted to spend time with everybody, I could only give everybody 30 seconds. But now that we’re cellaring beer for them, we’re scheduling their pickup, and we’re distributing that, now it’s an opportunity to be able to really present the brand and have that connection in a more meaningful way, and be able to invest the time in each of those relationships.

Art: Yeah, that’s right John. Again, like you said, it’s counterintuitive. You didn’t see that coming, but life changes, things happen. I mean, this whole comment that F&B is the biggest thing in online sales, those are crazy statistics! 7% or 12% by 2024 of alcohol is going to be sold online. Either number, it doesn’t matter, that’s crazy! You want to embrace these things or you’re going to get left behind. The lines are awesome—I love that, I’ll miss that forever, I hope it comes back, but I don’t think that this is ever gonna go away. And now when we do have lines for non-Scout members, you’re getting to meet a whole new group of people in a different way. And a chunk of them end up being Scouts in the end! So that’s all moving in a good direction I think. 

John: Well alright, thanks for that, man. Mike, let’s transition to you buddy. Mike, with his business partner Vince Tersey, started DSSOLVR in Asheville—something that they’ve been dreaming about for years and finally got the opportunity to do it. So, Mike, let me turn it over to you here! 

Mike: So I met my co-founder Vince Tersey back around 2012. We both at that time worked out of a liquor store out of one of the bigger neighborhoods in the Boston area, just servicing pretty much all the fraternities and sororities in that area with so many Bud Light products. There was an intense amount of Bud Light kegs going out. But, it gave us a great opportunity to dive into that location’s craft beer selection, and at that time, Boston was seeing a boom of craft breweries. Night Shift popped up, Trillium, and much, much more. I’m sure you all are aware of some of the bigger brands that emerged out of the Boston area recently. 

But it was awesome. We started home brewing and then started progressing with the dream and then around that time my business partner Vince got his first job within the industry—Night Shift Brewing kind of progressed his career. After Night Shift came Lord Hobo, and then he made his way down to Asheville where we have our location now, and started working for Burial. He helped them open up there and expand their production site, and then after leaving there helped open up a little local craft beer bar, which is now not little anymore. They’ve grown to 3 locations, called The Whale, and after doing that, it was just the perfect timing for Vince and I to meet back up and start our dream here in Asheville. 

While he was doing all his brewery stuff, I was spending my time working on the creative side for multiple different agencies out of the Boston area, and then finally made my way to Providence, Rhode Island. I worked out there for a while at a smaller boutique agency, and developed my skills that have really paid off for us here and helped us while launching the brand for DSSOLVR. A lot of social media work I did along the way primed us for being able to capture a lot of our events in the initial startup and then launch of the brand. I was able to do a lot of video photography, and then the overall organization of that graphic work to present it in a nice and unique manner, especially on our Instagram account. If you have a moment a little later on, please check that out! It’s DSSOLVR on Instagram. We put a lot of time and effort into that, and it’s really helped pay off for the brand. We’ve been recognized through that mostly, and that’s like our gateway to a lot of our customers and our audiences. They’ll find our social media presence or our website first, and that’s our lead into getting them into the taproom.

Unfortunately, we had spent so many years starting up and then finally launched in December of 2019. So we had a good 3 months of unregulated, unrestricted service before the pandemic hit, and we were forced to close the taproom. Then we completely lost our direct in-face contact with our customers, which gave us a good hard look on things. We were planting seeds along the way: We had our website, we had a more robust audience on our social media platforms. So, what can we do now? And what we did was turn to the good folks at Craftpeak and had them turn on our direct to consumer web shop there, and really started pushing heavily into that. 

We started up our direct to consumer program within the state of North Carolina, and it has been really, really beneficial to us. Not only are we now selling merchandise and other pieces of branded material, but now we can sell our actual beer right to anyone interested in-state. We’re looking to open up more of those states John mentioned earlier in the presentation, and it’s coming in 2022. What John was saying: 7% of all sales are now from e-commerce and we’re seeing just about 10% of our sales coming from our website. People love that opportunity to get into your brand and pick that stuff up.

John: Yeah Mike, I’ll transfer slides here, but before we do, I’m glad you mentioned Instagram. If Mike is right, I know we’ve mentioned a couple times, if you have not checked out DSSOLVR’s Instagram please do it. It is a 3-year collage of thumbnails that is so methodically thought-out where all of these things fit together. It is absolutely so cool! And I gotta say for those of you who haven’t been to DSSOLVR in Asheville yet, Mike has also done the displays for the beer there and they’re so cool. Often we’ll get other breweries walking in, and they’ll be like “John, we want that!” I’m like “I don’t know how to do that, only Mike knows how to do that.” So I had to give you some props there, Mike! But yeah, let me get the next slide going for you, buddy.

Mike: Yeah and like I was saying, the website was, for a time period there through shutdown, it was more than an extension of our taproom—it was essentially our taproom. And one of our only experiences to offer! But, with that, it helped us out so much with being able to tell our brand story, but then get people into our sales funnel and push them down into encouraging them to either purchase a piece of our brand, or if they lived within state or, for a period of time, if they lived locally we were able to get you our product. For quite some time, I was hand delivering it myself! So I would show up at your door all masked up and gloved up for some time there, and that was huge too. A lot of those people that I was able to deliver to at that time are still coming to the taproom now, and I made some friendships along the way. 

That was a big plus when we were moving into a time where all of our draft was gone and all of our opportunity to welcome people into the beautiful taproom we had just built was missing. And I feel like being able to get in there and lay some groundwork really has helped us. Now we’re in a time where we can welcome people into the taproom, and still have this presence online and our webshop available for people to find us first before they make their way into Asheville. Asheville has a super dense tourist population that comes through every season, so having people able to discover us online first is just huge for the brand. Especially with how densely populated we are with other breweries, being able to stand out amongst a good selection of breweries out here, it just really helps out and encourages people to come into the taproom.

And if they’ve been here—and a lot of times we find this a lot with our orders—they’ve come into the taproom, and they see a shirt or they see a 4-pack that they wish they got, and they have a little bit of that regret not picking it up. So they pop over the website after, and then get their selection and see a bunch of the other things we have to offer—it’s just been exceptional for the business as we grow out of this pandemic stretch.

Then more recently, I can speak to these stock integrations we’ve been able to put in place with Arryved and with  Craftpeak’s help. Now our merchandise stock and beer selection is all merchandised through the POS that Arryved offers, and the website that Craftpeak has put in for us. So there was a time where we would oversell quite a bit and would create just smaller challenges along our busy week where we’re dealing with having to either refund, or swap out an item, or promise to restock soon, and deal with that at a later time. Now it’s really relieved us from those problems—we don’t run out! Which sounds like an easy thing, but having Arryved and Craftpeak put this in place just made our lives that much easier. Looking forward to more of the awesome tools and platforms that they develop and integrate together. So far it’s been amazing working with these two teams.

John: Thanks Mike, I appreciate you sharing some of the challenges and often I think that’s the number one thing we’ve heard from breweries, is that as they get started in e-commerce and they’re trying to manage both their point of sale inventory and e-commerce inventory, those things could be tough to sync. So yeah, that was one of the fun projects that we got to work on with Arryved to help address that issue. But I know we’re running a little long on time here, so Andrew, let me check in with you, buddy. And we’d love to see if we had any questions that we could address with Mike while we’ve got him here. 

Andrew: Absolutely, John. Thank you all for all the fantastic information. It’s been truly fascinating to watch the growth of everything e-commerce related, especially over the past 18 months. So I’m glad all of you have seen so much success in doing so. And we’ve got a comment! This one’s for you, Art: What are some of the unintended consequences of going to live releases versus virtual releases?