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Retail Refresh 2019 - Switching Things Up
We released some short announcements today (24th July) to our producer partners and our retail customer base to let them know about some big changes in our retail operations in the coming months. Here's the details on why and what we're changing:

EeBria has come a long way since we started with the idea in 2013 of creating an online craft beer marketplace to allow the best UK breweries to sell and ship their bottles directly to customers at home all over the country. The response to our new way of doing things and turning distribution on its head has constantly surprised us, and our move into the wholesale space with EeBriaTrade in 2015 was a huge moment for us. We're extremely proud that we've become a real representative of the craft beer industry and working alongside breweries to build a fairer and more efficient distribution option across the country and soon abroad too.

We and the team absolutely love every minute of working in craft beer and the community that comes with that. We’re currently working with more than 600 breweries and cider makers right now (far more than 700 producers have used us to sell drinks to date!) and with the EebriaTrade.com website we’re making sure that great craft beer is available at thousands of bars, pubs, restaurants and even cinemas and museums all over the country, and most importantly for us, the breweries are getting a fair deal.

So things are exciting for the future, our trade business is booming, we’re launching into Europe and of course we’re hiring too.

But while we’ve been blown away with the success of our trade operations, we’re continuing to build our network and we're excited about the future, it has meant the retail website that we started out with (EeBria.com) has perhaps become a little bit neglected... The huge growth in our trade revenues means that retail has also simply become insignificant by comparison to that part of our business (retail is less than 5% of our sales). It’s done nothing wrong, there’s a nice business ticking along there, but we have come to the conclusion that by comparison to our other activities, it requires a relatively high time commitment from the team to give the high level of service we believe in. We’ve decided that there’s a new way for us to operate in the retail space with 6 years of experience under our belts...

What’s triggered a change?

Of course, the retail marketplace is what we built first and it has a special place in the team’s heart. But we also have noted that the retail craft beer space has changed a lot since we launched in 2013 right at the start of the craft beer explosion. There are so many other local and online bottle shops to choose from (lots of who we also sell to via our trade website of course!) and even fairly good beers in supermarkets now. We’ve also supported some amazing breweries through to the point where they can build their own shiny online webshop without needing to use our tech anymore.

The marketplace model is amazing for getting super fresh products from the brewery and on our trade site, this works swimmingly with single order kegs and full cases of bottles and cans winging their way from brewery to pub with our courier network. But with retail and the smaller order sizes its relatively more hands on. The biggest drawback is obviously the extra shipping costs for anyone wanting to buy a small number of items across a range of breweries. Mixed cases and the option to pick and pack has been the biggest ask of our customers - we’re not blind to the fact that our mixed cases always sell out rapidly!

Subscription clubs in particular are a very crowded space compared to when we launched the Discovery Club in 2014. There are all kinds of subscription clubs claiming to send out great craft beers, and also a definite trend for a race to the bottom regarding pricing, which of course has to come at the expense of quality in one way or another in the end. We only ever put amazing beers in our boxes we wanted to drink, but importantly we’ve always made sure to pay the breweries promptly and fairly. Plus we never repeated a beer in the Discovery Club 5 years! However that box of beers perhaps isn’t for everyone and trying to please everyone with a single box has started to make no sense to us. For those who truly want the cutting edge, we need a better box that costs more or has fewer beers in there. For those who want an introduction or session friendly fridge fillers, then we would want to build another box again.

So we’re changing the EeBria.com operations from September this year:
  • There is no change at all to EeBriaTrade or our Taproom
  • The marketplace model (direct from brewery) on EeBria.com will switch over at the end of August to become our Eebria online bottle shop.
  • We will no longer from that date operate producer online shops and organise the shipments from the producer to your door, items will be shipped from our Head Office and Taproom instead.
  • Our current subscription clubs will also be closing down after the August boxes are sent out.
  • Sadly we won’t be selling Wine and Spirits anymore to our retail customers as we’re going to focus on only craft beer and ciders. We’re working hard to bring all our producers from retail onto our Trade website so they can keep their distribution levels up as a result of the change

So what will we be selling instead?

Mixed Cases!

Instead of making a single subscription box that tries to appeal to everyone, we’re going to make specific mixed cases for different types of customers based on the best of what we can source at the time. With the range of thousands of beers and hundreds of ciders we sell through our trade operation we have access to an unrivalled selection for our team of experts to choose from. We'll then be able to make more of that range available to our retail customer base via the relaunched eebria.com website. We’ll also have the option for the first time to build your own box from the items we have listed in our taproom and head office stock too, and with our European expansion later this year, we’ll be able to bring special mixed cases of our favourite French beers too!

Why this change?

We have 2 people dedicated to ‘Team Retail’ at the moment - (people often think more as they’re superhumans doing the work of 10!) but we also want to be able to use their talents in other parts of the business and on some new projects too. We’ll be absorbing Team Retail into our overall team and running it alongside our Taproom rather than running it as an entirely separate operation and we’ll be able to streamline the operations by bringing all the elements in house.

Any more surprises to announce?

We work with a huge number of producers and have been looking at ways that we can help the drinks industry as a whole with technology. As a result over the next few months we will be launching a suite of new free sites and tools to help producers. The first of the set we're launching is EeBriaJobs - launching later this week to provide a free jobs board for all our trade sellers and help other people get into the industry that we love. Then we also have lots more ancillary services in our pipeline, designed to build our brewery relationships and support the industry at large as it continues to grow.

So in summary!

  • Nothing has changed (other than it getting bigger and better all the time) with regards to our EeBriaTrade wholesale platform. Our taproom is also unaffected, other than potentially getting even more good beer to take away from our fridges on a weekend if you stop by.
  • The changes announced today are limited to our retail marketplace EeBria.com. It’s not going anywhere as a website or service but it is switching to a simpler online bottleshop model. Boxes will no longer be direct from breweries but mixed cases that are hand packed by us will be shipping out from our head office. Our existing subscription clubs are closing too, to allow a switch to selling more flexible and varied mixed cases.
  • Plus, we’re adding to our offering to support the Craft Beer Community over the coming months. First up is our EeBriaJobs board for any and all industry jobs that are available at our industry partners. More announcements on our other new projects to follow over the next few months so watch this space…


If you have any questions on any of this please contact us on retailrefresh@eebria.com
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