How to Choose the Right E-commerce Solution
Every emerging alcohol brand wants to scale faster and grow its distribution. But, the current state of commerce makes it absurdly difficult for spirits brands to sell online.
Selling alcohol direct-to-consumer is frustrating for two core reasons: complex regulatory compliance laws and the lack of first-party customer data. As a result, emerging brands are often left with antiquated e-comm tools which fail to address both frustrations.
Existing market tools fail to deliver one key outcome: scale. Through our lens at Accelpay, we’ve seen companies spend enormous amounts of capital and energy attempting to find a platform that is designed to grow alongside them.
To save you time, we dove deep to pinpoint the two criteria your e-comm solution should deliver.
Phase I: Prioritize Three-Tier Compliance
Your commerce platform should deliver on regulatory compliance.
Regulations vary state-by-state;nearly every spirits brand owner is constantly worried that their distribution will get blocked after opening in a new market.
As you’re evaluating potential tools, it’s critical you flesh out the exact details and evolving documentation that a platform enforces around this three-tier compliance structure. As is often the case in non-compliance, licenses can be revoked and distribution is throttled.
Given our vantage point in the alcohol ecosystem, we believe that a distributed network approach through which brands distribute through multiple warehouses will soon be the enforced model for spirits brands to stay compliant with regulatory agencies.
When a brand demonstrates favoritism through a single warehouse or point of distribution, smaller shops lose business. In the coming years, based on our on-the-ground coverage and access, we believe that compliance bodies will crack down on this behavior.
As a result, we strongly recommend getting ahead of the regulatory curve and finding an e-comm platform which operates across a distributed system model, as opposed to an outdated fulfillment network that leans into, in some cases, monopolistic tendencies.
Phase II: Secure First-Party Customer Data
After ensuring three-tier compliance, the second criteria your chosen e-com tool should offer is end-to-end metric access and analytics around your first-party customer data.
DTC industry heavyweights like Glossier, Allbirds, and Warby Parker owned their customer data from landing to purchase journeys. As a result of this access, brands were able to test and discover high-value customer cohorts and growth channels, and, in turn, dominate them.
It’s nearly impossible to develop effective digital marketing strategies without accessing first-party information about purchasing tendencies and analyzing behavioral analytics.But outdated e-com platforms that alcohol brands are forced to use in order to sell online fail to deliver on this criteria. The large majority of offered solutions are simply workarounds, pushing your website traffic to third-party marketplaces which yield zero access to first-party data.
As a result, brands are effectively spending ad dollars to drive their customers to a black box of information. Sure, your brand might gain short-term revenue, but you’ll lose access to incredibly valuable data that collectively forms the foundation of a scalable paid marketing strategy.
These indispensable data sets can improve on-site conversion, acquisition performance, and retention metrics across nearly every vertical. So instead of relying on a tool that bounces your sales off-site, we recommend choosing a digital e-com platform that gives you full control over first-party data.
In turn, you’ll not only deepen your understanding and relationship with your core customer, but you’ll also retain a solid growth strategy built on top of clear, concise data.
Ramp Towards National Distribution
Once you’ve found an enterprise-grade tool that satisfies these criteria, it’s time to scale your distribution into national markets and ensure you can meet customers where they live.
Stopgap or short-term solutions exist in droves, but these platforms won’t give you the foundation to scale into operational maturity as your core business hits scale.
At Accelpay, we handle the complexity of alcohol fulfillment and payments by leveraging our unique tech-enabled distributed network. We intentionally designed our platform alongside brand owners to directly address these compliance and data issues.
To learn more about how we partner with category-defining brands, get started here.