Taking your love for a good beer and turning it into a full-fledged business is an exciting idea. If you’ve been experimenting with homemade brews that your friends and family love, it can be an opportunity to grow your expertise and make money.
The US retail beer market generated more than $22 billion and the total US beer market is about $94 billion. The industry is expected to grow by about 4.7% annually with craft beer growing by 14% or more year-over-year (YoY).
Maybe you’re already selling food online and want to expand your product offerings. Just as selling baked goods online and selling cookies online go with coffee, different foods go with different liquor, wine, and beer. Sandwiches, smoked foods, pizza, and salty foods pair well with beer.
As you’re researching, you’ll notice requirements to sell wine online and selling liquor online differ from dry food. Here’s what you need to know to run a legal and fun online beer business.
Sell Beer Bottles Online
Having an online beer business is different from selling beer in person (this is also true of selling coffee online). Since customers shop for beer differently on the Internet, you’ll need to present your products in an appealing and convenient way.
There are different objectives to accomplish before your online business is sales- and marketing-ready. Here are those steps:
Get Your Website Set Up
Your website is the largest and most important tool for attracting customers and driving sales. If you’re starting an eCommerce business for the first time, setting up your own website may feel daunting. With the right background knowledge, you can simplify the work involved here.
It’s important to think about the future when building your website. You’ll want to select eCommerce software that’s easy to understand but also easy to modify. Websites constantly need updating so it’s worth investing in a tool that will give you the professional and modern edge you need.
You can create a website with the frontend and backend connected, or you can use a headless eCommerce solution for greater customizability. Headless eCommerce refers to any website platform where the backend is disconnected from the frontend. This allows you to further dictate the design of your site and have greater control over technical details.
If you want to establish recurring revenue more easily, create a subscription website. Your customers can easily select the products they want shipped on a regular basis while you achieve predictable sales. Make sure your site is equipped with reliable eCommerce payment software to provide fast and secure payments.
Also, take the time to think about the experience you want your audience to have. Do you want your site to look modern and minimalist? Perhaps you prefer an elegant and traditional look? No matter what you go with, make sure it matches the tastes of your customers.
BlueCart’s eCommerce platform is optimized for digital marketing objectives, like eCommerce marketing automation and eCommerce SEO. Learn more about how BlueCart can help grow your business by scheduling a demo today.
Develop Attention-Grabbing Branding
In a niche like beer that has over 7,000 breweries in the US alone, it’s going to take some ingenuity for your products to stand out. Many beer brands embody quirky and zany characteristics to be memorable in a crowded market.
Consider the vibe you want your beer to be associated with. Is it fun and lighthearted? Are you going for a darker, more underground style? The visual presentation of your beer should be aligned with its flavor and personality.
When it comes to branding, make sure to use the same graphics, colors, and fonts on your website as you do the product itself. If your eCommerce packaging is a smash hit but your website doesn’t match visually, customers may think they searched for the wrong brand.
Find a Supplier
If you aren’t selling your own beer online, that is 100% okay. Just make sure that you acquire the proper permits and documentation, such as a wholesale license. In this case, you’ll need to find a supplier of beer so you can have products in stock. There are thousands of wholesale beer suppliers in the US, so it’s important to know how to find vendors.
When selecting a supplier, keep the following principles in mind:
- Do they list great wholesale items to sell?
- Is their customer service prompt and professional?
- Do they provide discounts, bulk shipping and ordering, and other incentives to keep working with them?
- Is their geographic position close to the location of my business? (Optional, but highly recommended)
All of these questions are good benchmarks of how responsive any supplier will be. If they send you information quickly and show a readiness to start working together, this is the exact type of business you want to partner with.
Using a separate supplier also makes dropshipping possible. Dropshipping is an eCommerce business model where a supplier ships products to a buyer, without the seller handling the product or maintaining inventory.
Spend Time on Your Packaging
While beer drinkers span a variety of demographics, a large percentage of beer drinkers love the artwork associated with bottles and boxes. This shouldn’t be the only thing you think about, but a strong case can be made for passive eCommerce marketing simply by having phenomenal visuals.
If you have the funds and interest in doing so, hire a professional artist to create original work for your brand. People inherently respond to visual things, and sometimes buyers will pick up your beer just because they love the art on it.
It’s important to use this principle wisely, though. Your first priority should always be to develop phenomenal beer and sell it to your target audience. A great product will often sell itself, and your packaging is the icing on the cake.
Focus on Direct to Consumer Options
eCommerce is successful in large part because it allows companies to send products directly to customers. No longer do people need to spend time shopping in a mall when they can order online and get products delivered in a few days.
Selling beer online already implies DTC marketing, but you can provide more convenience for those who want it. Giving your customers choices like one-day shipping, cancelling a subscription at any time, and free returns will demonstrate how much you care.
Consider Selling Wholesale
Brewing your own beer has more upsides than merely selling to your customers online. You can also make a profit through wholesale sales and a wholesale marketing strategy.
Becoming a wholesaler is incredible because you can list your products for sale in a wholesale directory. This can lead to thousands more people finding your beer as distributors and retailers pick it up. Learn all the wholesale strategies you need in our wholesale management guide.
How to Sell Beer Online Legally
As you can imagine, there are multiple prerequisites for selling beer online legally. You need documents for various purposes, including an eCommerce business license. You also need licenses for product shipping, selling alcohol online, and manufacturing alcohol (the latter only if applicable).
Here are the legal requirements for selling beer online:
- A manufacturer’s license. If you brew your own beer, this license will allow you to sell it to the public. Many states allow home-based brewing for private consumption, but you’ll need the government’s approval for making money off of your beer. If you sell beer that wasn’t produced by you, you can skip this step.
- An alcohol dealer’s registration (ADR). An ADR shows the government you’re a lawful dealer of alcoholic beverages. It’s a type of permit that protects your business and profits from frivolous lawsuits and demonstrates that you aren’t selling to unlicensed businesses.
- A retail license. This license permits the commercial sale of your beer. If you plan to sell beer online, in restaurants, at stores, through catering and events, or any other public environment, you’ll need a retail license. Know that even if you’ve acquired licenses or permits to sell alcohol at local events in the past, a retail license may or may not still apply.
- A shipping license. Obtaining a shipping license is necessary if you want to sell beer online legally. The government is aware that some people use the Internet to purchase goods illegally, hence this requirement. A shipping license dictates the geographic area in which you’re allowed to send 21+ products. If you plan to sell goods nationwide, you’ll need a shipping license for each state that your customers live in.
Each state has different regulations, and some states impose laws that others do not. It’s best to research the laws in your own state to understand all of the commercial requirements for your business. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or are unsure what step to take, consulting a business lawyer can help.
Where to Sell Beer Online
Now that you have your legal and business basics in place, it’s time to sell your goods online. There’s no right or wrong online marketplace for online beer sales, but it helps to know popular routes you can take.
Here is where to sell beer online:
- Your own eCommerce store
- 2ndKitchen 2Go
Why Be Salty When You Can Be Malty?
Selling beer online requires successfully managing multiple moving parts. This includes similar products, such as if you sell whiskey online. Your beer needs to be kick-butt, complete with eye-catching packaging, fast shipping, and great customer service. You’ll be able to increase eCommerce sales as you leverage a comprehensive eCommerce marketing strategy.
Focus on what makes your beer unique and your business will attract customers in no time. Get even more info on how to sell products online with our comprehensive guide.
Frequently Asked Questions About Selling Beer Online
If you’re ready to start an online beer business, there’s never been a better time. eCommerce beer sales have been growing by 8.4% since 2016 and this has only accelerated over time. Review these frequently asked questions to get a better feel for your upcoming business venture:
Can you sell beer on eBay?
No, you can’t sell beer on eBay. The well-known auction site only allows pre-approved sellers to sell wine. This is the only permissible alcoholic beverage in their selling policies.
eBay doesn’t offer the sale of most alcoholic beverages because the industry as a whole is highly regulated. Ancillary products, such as beer-making kits, wine accessories, and distilling products are still allowed for sale.
Can you resell alcohol online?
You cannot resell alcohol online because it’s illegal in every state and at the federal level. The primary reasons for this are to prevent unlawful dealerships and to reduce the amount of black market competition licensed business owners must face.
If you work with a licensed auction house or broker, reselling is permitted. Make sure you have all appropriate licensure before reselling your beverages to businesses or consumers. If you aren’t sure which laws apply in your state, contact your state’s revenue or tax office.
Can I give away free beer?
You can give away free beer as long as you’re only providing it to adults and you’re a licensed manufacturer or dealer. You can’t give away beer for free if you’re asking for a donation in return, you’re not licensed, or you’re offering it to any minors.
Beer can also be given away to employees of a brewery for education and training, or to restaurants and bars for promotional purposes. As long as the manufacturer or distributor of a beer is doing this lawfully, there are no restrictions to this.
Disclaimer: This information does not function or serve as a replacement to legal reference materials. It is intended for educational or informational purposes for personal use only. Conduct your own research or consult with a lawyer to make sure your business is in full compliance with every federal, state, and local law.