Online beer retailers raise cash to cope with increasing demand

11 August, 2017

Two online beer retailers have revealed ambitious expansion plans as they seek to cope with increasing demand.

Honest Brew, which launched in 2014, is investing £1.5 million to grow its online platform and open its first physical store in east London. 

This is the most recent round of fundraising, which has brought the total raised since start-up to £2.4 million. 

Founder Andrew Reeve told DRN: “One of the hardest things for us has been keeping up with the market. Before we raised this money we had been a team of 10 for the past year, and we have so much coming at us every day that we have to say no to. But now we can look at doing some of the interesting things we have always wanted to do, as well as investing in operations and things like making the shopping experience better via mobile.”

While online will remain the key focus, Reeve said of the planned bricks-and-mortar store: “It won’t just be a space
to buy beer, it will also be a place where people can learn and
try beer. 

“We tested the water with a pop-up in Old Street and the feedback was really amazing. We want a space where our customers can try new beers and where brewers can showcase new products. 

“The great thing about being an online retailer is that we have a huge amount of logistics and warehouse space already in place, so it’s easy to supply a mix of bottled beers for a physical store. 

“We haven’t got plans to roll out a chain of bottle shops. We don’t want to be in that space. This is more about us saying what Honest Brew is about.”

Rival online retailer Beer Bods has already raised more than half of the £250,000 crowdfunding it is hoping for before the end of August. 

Managing director Matt Lane set up the company five years ago with the aim of holding beer tastings on the internet, and now #beerbodstime trends on Twitter every Thursday at 9pm.

It has more than 4,000 active subscribers and another 14,000 members who purchase mixed cases from its website on a less frequent basis. In the past two years the company has launched a raft of products via its subscription service, including Beer Bods Live, which is a series of events at beer venues across the UK.   

Lane told DRN: “We plan to use the investment to grow our subscriber numbers, so a portion of it will go on marketing. We also want to do some new things, so we have been trialling a B2B service called Beer Bods Intelligence. Basically because of the unique way all our customers drink the same beer at the same time, we collect this data as a by-product and we can supply this to businesses, which is a new route for us. 

“The main challenge has been the increasing competition. When we started out in 2012 we were the only online craft beer subscription service, but there are now about 20, while supermarket ranges have also become more competitive. 

“We benefit from having added-value elements, such as the weekly online beer tasting sessions. We joke that we started out the long, hard and stupid way as it’s not easy to organise online tastings but because of that no-one can easily copy us. 

“Our beers cost more than those in supermarkets, so it’s important for us to make sure we deliver these added-value elements to our subscribers.”

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