With one in five Australians buying more booze than usual during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent study, and consumers continually turning to online shopping while in isolation, Metcash couldn’t have picked a better time to launch an e-commerce site for its independent alcohol brands.
Independent Brands Australia (IBA) is the second-largest network of liquor retail outlets in the country with national brands, including Cellarbrations, The Bottle-O and IGA Liquor under its wing. On April 6, IBA launched Shop MyLocal in partnership with Marketplacer, after less than three months in development.
The site sells wine, champagne, beer and spirits for next day delivery from the nearest store to the customer. And with pubs closed and customers confined to their homes, speedy alcohol delivery is in high demand.
“The timing was coincidental,” Raff Palermo, head of digital commerce and loyalty at IBA, told Inside FMCG of launching amid the intense COVID-19 period.
“We always planned to launch in April 2020 but at a much smaller scale and with a smaller geographical coverage. In essence, we were looking to “pilot” the platform with a select number of stores in NSW for 3 months and then broaden out the reach from there.
“COVID-19 meant that our launch approach had to be revised. We decided to open up to all the IBA Retailers who expressed an interest with home delivery being the primary method of order fulfilment.”
Prior to this site launch, less than three per cent of IBA retailers had an online selling presence and Palermo and his team were looking at new ways to engage with ‘connected shoppers’ who are buying liquor online.
“Our marketplace approach, has given our IBA members the opportunity to become part of a single destination for its shoppers.”
As of Friday May 1, there are 179 stores live and trading on ShopMyLocal, with more being added each day, offering both Click & Collect and Local Home Delivery fulfillment options.
“Fortunately, a large percentage of our retailers have years of experience with home deliveries and we thought it made sense for the system to engage with shoppers in the same way. Our Click & Collect promise is that shoppers are able to pick up within the hour.”
Palermo said the response from customers so far has been encouraging.
“Being live for only three weeks, the consumer response is where we expect it to be. Site visitation and browsing is encouraging and orders are now starting to flow through now that more stores have joined the platform. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see this increase as we add online promotions and commence our marketing awareness drive from May 6.”
Palermo is hopeful that the site will help IBA forge better connections with its consumer base.
“IBA’s e-commerce strategy and our future mindset is about being relevant in all paths to purchase and creating meaningful relationships. We see ourselves and the platform facilitating connections between shoppers and their favourite beverage brands from their favourite local store,” he said.