Aussie online retailer Beer Cartel ‘big’ winners at BigCommerce awards

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By Published On: September 26, 20220 Comments

Leading software as a service e-commerce platform BigCommerce have announced the winners of this year’s ‘Make It Big’ awards, a series of awards aimed at spotlighting and celebrating the achievements of online retailers making use of the BigCommerce platform, with Australia’s own Beer Cartel taking home this year’s Innovation Award.

“As consumer habits continue to evolve, and increased e-commerce adoption places online shopping in the hands of more merchants, offering a standout customer experience remains an imperative more than ever,” BigCommerce CMO Lisa Eggerton said in a statement,“This year’s BigCommerce Make it Big Awards celebrate merchants who exceed shopper expectations and have made large strides in building innovative and seamless online experiences on their growth-driven journey.”

Offering a variety of craft beers via its online storefront, in addition to novelty subscription packages such as its Beer Advent Calendar, Sydney-based Beer Cartel have grown considerably since their initial founding in 2009. 

“Back when we started in 2009, Australia was a bit of a ‘vanilla’ beer landscape. There were the same boring, bland beers at every venue and bottle-o. We knew there was far more on offer than this from some of the early craft breweries in Australia, as well as from overseas brewers,” Beer Cartel co-founder and director Richard Kelsey tells Power Retail, “Our aim was to make these great beers accessible to others and show that there was a whole new world of beer waiting to be discovered.”

Indeed, Beer Cartel would showcase a whole new world to more than just consumers, embracing the opportunities of online retail well before even some of its biggest competitors. 

“Crazily, we started with an online store first operating out of multiple Kennards storage sheds. We were well ahead of the e-commerce (and craft beer) movement in Australia, with Dan Murphy’s launching their first online store in 2011,” Kelsey says, “It took a number of years for the shift towards e-commerce (and buying craft beer) to come, but from little things big things grow.”

Initially starting with its subscription offerings, Beer Cartel has grown to not only expand its selection of craft beers but additionally play host to its annual Australian Craft Beer Survey, viewed as a way to assist the ongoing growth of Australia’s craft beer industry. That underlying love and appreciation for all things beer continues to lie at the core of Beer Cartel’s mission statement.

The subscription model still prioritised by Beer Cartel offers perhaps the best insight into the innovation at the heart of the business, with the original idea’s inception in 2009 then still a very novel and unique one as offered by online retail – then itself novel and largely unrealised by Australian retailers. 

“The Beer Subscription was our base offering when we first started in 2009. We wanted to share great beer with others and knowing very few people had a concept of what good beer was, we wanted to make it easy for them,” says Kelsey, “Providing a selection of different craft beers delivered to their door every month was our solution. It has been a central base for the whole business and while it has evolved over the years, it is still a core component of what we’re about.”

“Being tech based and starting from a world in 2009 where tech was pretty limited, we’ve always had a pretty strong innovation focus.”

In recognising the Aussie start-up for this year’s Innovation Award at the BigCommerce ‘Making It Big’ event, judges for the awards said of Beer Cartel, “Beer Cartel has created a slick, fast, compelling customer experience, using the best of BigCommerce’s out-of-the-box capabilities that enable shoppers to find what they want easily, including filtering on product listings. In particular, though, the use of the BigCommerce APIs to expand the technical ecosystem, plus the inclusion of partners such as Lightspeed, make for a solid and scalable long-term solution.”

The value of the recognition is not lost on Beer Cartel or co-founder Richard Kelsey, with the latter recognising the steep competition the craft beer retailer had to overcome to receive the achievement.

“To be recognised for this is great,” Kelsey says, “And even more so when it is a global award from one of the world’s leading Open SaaS ecommerce platforms where every business that operates on it is innovative in some shape or form.”

Overall, Kelsey points to parallels between the craft beer industries and online retail industries as allowing for Beer Cartel to stand out so strongly, benefiting from existing at the intersection of two industries experiencing healthy growth and reaping the rewards of innovations central to success within them.

“The parallels between craft beer and online retail are very strong. You’ve got two industries that are in their infancy which serve a small but steadily growing market. Both are hugely innovative, one in the flavours and products it develops, and the other in how people transact. Add to this, you have customers eager to embrace the new. You can see why we are so excited about selling craft beer online!”

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