November 2, 2016, 1:18 PM

A brewery looks to keep e-commerce buzzing with a new e-retail site

Oskar Blues Brewery will switch to a new e-commerce platform in 2017 to help the company stand out in an increasingly competitive craft beer market.

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Oskar Blues Brewery reported over 30% growth in total sales last year and hopes to stay ahead of an expanding industry with a new e-commerce platform launching in early 2017.

“We have what we consider to be an antiquated WordPress site,” says Dave Taylor, national programs merchandise and point of sale manager for Oskar Blues. “We have 600-700 SKUs but our site doesn’t connect to our backend system or our shipping software.” The disconnect has led to more manual work for the Oskar Blues staff according to Taylor. Oskar Blues is best known for its flagship beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, and stakes its claim as the first craft brewery to put their beer in cans.

Taylor says about 90% of total sales are B2B and 99% of orders are processed online. The company has 210 distributors. The other 10% of sales are direct to consumers, who can buy merchandise and signs on OskarBlues.com. The website has a portal for distributors where they can see inventory, pricing and items available only to them. While Taylor declined to provide the specifics he says Oskar Blues yearly sales are in the hundreds of thousands.

Early in 2016 Oskar Blues saw just how outdated its website was when it purchased Cigar City Brewing, a Tampa, Fla.-based craft beer maker, which was using the Brewers’ Edge e-commerce platform from HighJump Software Inc. After seeing the HighJump platform in action, Taylor and the Oskar Blues team decided to switch over to Brewers’ Edge to improve their workflow. “We’ll use HighJump for warehouse management and e-commerce for right now but we’ll certainly consider expanding from there,” he says. “Our biggest priority was to address the immediate need and show our customers that we are actively pursuing better technology.” Taylor didn’t provide the cost for implementing the HighJump software but said the brewery hopes to have the Brewers’ Edge platform in place by the first quarter of 2017.

Being able to show its business customers that Oskar Blues is working to improve its technology is something Taylor says is important to Oskar Blues. The craft brewing industry has exploded in the past few years and Taylor estimates that nearly 100 breweries have entered the market within the last year. He projects company’s sales growth in 2016 to be down from last year’s 30% rate, citing both the growing competition and the unsustainable pace of what he considers a remarkable 2015.

Last year, Oskar Blues began selling online to distributors in more than a dozen additional states. The company now has distributors in all 50 states as well as internationally.

 

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a twice-weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web— Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Tim Brusveen on Twitter @TimBrusveen.

 

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