Why Americans Are Starting to Buy Beer Online

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Americans can buy almost anything online. Go to Amazon.com and look at the hundreds of thousands of items (it would take years). Add to that other huge e-commerce sites and the unbelievable number of small ones. Recently, beer has joined the inventory of things people can buy with their addresses, credit card numbers and a click of a button.

ZX Ventures, a division of Anheuser-Busch, has done a great deal of the work on the subject. The big global beer company, officially known as Anheuser-Busch InBev, calls ZX its worldwide growth and innovations group. Its job is to look ahead at future consumer trends, which run from sustainable sourcing of ingredients to patterns of beer consumption both inside and outside the home. Among its newest initiatives is considering how and why people would buy beer online. Among the advantages ZX has is that its parent sells some of the most popular beers in America.

Early public data on beer e-commerce from ZX Ventures shows that very little beer is sold online, and many people do not know it is available. Only 1% of all beer is sold online, according to data it recently released. Some 28% of American consumers do not realize they can buy beer via e-commerce. However, that means that almost three-quarters of people do. ZX defines the difference between people who know about online beer shopping and those who do it as “a huge opportunity as online shopping grows.” ZX surveyed 1,000 people over the age of 21 to form its conclusions.

ZX announced that to advance online beer sales, it has several initiatives for the industry. The first is for retailers to realize and take advantage of the opportunity that already exists. Another is to examine state and federal regulations, some of which limit where beer can be sold online.

Beyond the issues of education and regulation, ZX researchers say consumers may buy beer in larger quantities when they can order it from a smartphone or PC. The reason? They will not have to carry heavy packages from stores to their homes. Another opportunity is to offer discounts, a means to sell products that is probably as old as retailing itself. E-commerce beer operations should mimic what beer retailers do already.

Online beer sales will rely on two other significant parts of the American e-commerce experience. Those ordering beer online will expect free shipping, which is a nearly universal part of online delivery. The other is that online beer sales will rise with online grocery sales because the two are already married when people do brick-and-mortar grocery shopping.

Finally, Anheuser-Busch has a reason to know a great deal about new avenues for beer sales. Its flagship brands Budweiser and Budweiser Light have lost market share. Bud was America’s top-selling beer for decades. It is no longer in the top three.

In fact, Bud makes the list of beers Americans no longer drink.

Maybe the online beer sales trend can help Bud become the King of Beers again.

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