The Hopalytics team has collated tips to help maximize the impact of craft breweries beer to-go set-ups. We talked with breweries across the US to find best-case examples of recently set-up beer to-go stations at craft brewery taprooms.
Here are things that are important for craft breweries to focus on as they continue to sell beer to consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak:
1. Plan your to-go process so that consumers are safe
It is important to understand the physical journey someone is going to take when arriving at your brewery. Your setup needs to allow for safe and easy pick-up as well as the ability to form a line with maximum social distancing.
As the spread of the virus increases, consumers are less likely to want to leave their car to pick up to-go orders. If you are able to, it is important to have the ability to place product directly in the back of consumers cars and trucks.
Today, OLCC made it easier for bars & restaurants to get approved to sell beer, wine & cider to-go, & to be able to deliver alcohol to customers at the curb or at home. There are 5,500 bars & restaurants in OR that could benefit from this fast-track process. We’ll keep you posted pic.twitter.com/ubGufc1rRf— OLCC (@OLCC) March 20, 2020
2. Be safe and clean
It goes without saying that transferring your high standards of cleanliness from taproom to beer to-go is crucial. All employees should be wearing protective gloves and changing them often.
From a consumer perspective, ensuring that they can purchase beer-to-go with no or very little person-to-person contact is important. It is also important to offer hand sanitizer for customers at point of sale and collection stations.
If you don’t have a car, we’ll ask you to stand outside and order from your phone. This is what’s best for everyone and the only way that we can ensure a contactless experience.— Off Color Brewing (@OffcolorBrewing) March 24, 2020
3. Make it clear what you need consumers to do
One of the best ways to keep consumers and employees safe is to reduce the time required for person-to-person interaction. Clear signage – not just for pick-up but for parking as well – can give consumers info that they would instead have needed to ask about.
Make it clear what you want consumers to do as soon as they enter your property. The first thing consumers should see is signage with instructions/rules on how to pick-up. They should also see a menu with exactly what to-go options are available, again to reduce the time they need to speak to anyone on-site.
Back at it with #beerdrivethru on day #7. We’re open Monday – Friday 9am-6pm along with limited hours on Saturday. Color Blind is canning on Tuesday and we’ve got a bunch of it. #quarantineandchill pic.twitter.com/5y4s09eNx5— 11 Below Brewing (@11BelowBrewing) March 23, 2020
It is easy to film a 30-second virtual tour from a consumer perspective which becomes great social media content and acts as a clear example of how to buy beer safely.
4. Offer Additional on-site tipping options
Consumers are keen to support your tipped staff – and so ensure that your point of sale and to-go sales process allows for this.
Some breweries have set-up a tip bucket at their property exit that consumers can drop cash into (without touching it). Others have added a donation card as an online ordering option that goes towards tipped staff.
Draft beer to-go orders will be available again today (Sunday) from 1pm- 5pm!— Plank Road Tap Room (@PlankRdTapRoom) March 22, 2020
Due to the current health concerns, we will only be filling our sanitized in-house growlers.
Online shop – https://t.co/cXg7aYYeLW#plankroadtaproom #craftbeer #beer #beertogo #growler #draftbeer pic.twitter.com/xZbVoMqoLl
5. Offer online ordering, over the phone, text confirmations etc
It is important to encourage pre-ordering, even if a consumer orders from their car 2 minutes before they reach the taproom. Pre-ordering drastically reduces the amount of person-to-person interaction required to complete a to-go transaction.
Alongside online ordering, consider offering phone and text options as well. To maximize sales you need to offer a number of communication mediums to include every consumer behavior. Consider putting a text/call phone number on the first sign that consumers see in case they have not yet ordered-ahead.
6. Collect email addresses and phone numbers
Over the next few weeks/months communication is going to be key in helping small businesses engage with consumers. Check to see whether your point-of-sale system collects (and validates!) email addresses and/or phone numbers.
As you process transactions, ask for email addresses and phone numbers (have a way for your employees to collect) – even if they are already collected at your point of sale. You want to have your consumers’ most up to date and primary email address that is checked most often – whereas point of sale systems often have an older saved email address attached to them.
7. Encourage social media follows
As with ensuring you have your consumers’ most up to date email address, it is important to drive your consumers to follow your social accounts so that you can maximize information flow over the next few weeks.
One tip to maximize social engagement is to encourage consumers to document their to-go experience to share online, and make sure they know to tag your brewery in their posts. If you are actively re-sharing anyone who posts about their experience, this will encourage others to produce content as well.
There are craft breweries still open in the Twin Cities selling beer to-go! 👏🙌🍻 Check this helpful list!!https://t.co/FHOMSRRmtG— REEEEED™ (@itsREEDyo) March 19, 2020
8. Constantly communicate
Another key thing to focus on as you offer beer to-go is your communication plan. You should plan daily social media posts; and get into a routine and be consistent about style and information that each one details.
Online behaviors have changed overnight with social distancing, and consumers are seeing and engaging with a lot more social posts. You should also prioritize being able to answer questions online and engage with consumers as their share content on your brewery
To save time, you can use free social media tools such as Hootsuite to create one post that can be shared across social platforms. At a minimum, this is an easy way to share to Instagram,. Facebook and Twitter and you can schedule posts ahead of time.
You should also use your existing email lists and newly collected email addresses to send regular email communication about any changes in your hours, to-go process or offerings.
9. Tap-into local, regional and nationwide campaigns
There are many organized online campaigns that are helping to co-ordinate and drive local craft breweries beer to-go sales.
Some of these campaigns are time-sensitive and can help to drive to-go sales in the run up to their execution. For example the #NationwideCheers campaign organized by Community Beer Company runs each Friday at 5pm and can help to drive Thursday and Friday sales.
In an effort to keep the momentum going we are turning the #NationwideCheers into a weekly “happy hour” event to continually support our local craft beer industry.— Community Beer Co. (@CommunityBeerCo) March 23, 2020
Head over to https://t.co/nzlGFFb5Iy to learn how you can get involved! pic.twitter.com/epuuCT1ReW
Other online local campaigns include virtual happy hours and toasts. It is also very easy to coordinate virtual “Cheers” amongst the people who have purchased your beer to-go, and this encourages them to return. Consider systems like Zoom to host online gatherings and update your regular consumers.
10. Get on every 3rd party to-go list
There are a number of local, regional and national lists of breweries selling beer-to-go forming online – and it is important that your brewery be listed on each relevant list.
Also look at your local community websites and social media pages for lists forming of all small businesses offering to-go options in your town/city.
CraftBeer.com put together a nationwide list of to-go beer options by brewery.
Hopalytics compiled a national list of breweries selling gift cards online.
11. Offer gift-cards online
As you can see with the Hopalytics list above, many breweries offer online gift cards. Gift cards are an option for consumers to support you without coming to the taproom to pick up beer. There is a growing online campaign for small business supporters to buy gift cards as a safe way of supporting their local brewery as well as having something to look forward to once the virus restrictions are over.
Ensure that you add Gift Cards to online ordering menus and to your online store.
12. Manage your can/crowler supply-chain
Over the next few weeks your suppliers will be under increased pressure with both increased demand from breweries and interruptions in their own supply-chains. Make sure you are in constant contact with your suppliers to identify supply-chain issues ahead of time.
When it comes to to-go cans and crowlers, you should worry less about can aesthetic and more about can quantity and availability. Consumers buying to-go beer are more concerned with safety and cleanliness than can artwork!
13. Lean on your partners
Once you have your to-go process finalized and are ready to communicate, use your distribution, restaurant or retail partners to help promote your to-go set-up. If your wholesales partners are in a position to sell your beer to-go then make sure you are promoting them as well – every stakeholder has a vested interest in seeing your to-go campaign succeed.
Food and beer packaged to go! Call in your order (425)582-8474 pic.twitter.com/ULE1oIf1g1— Salish Sea Brewing (@SalishBrewing) March 22, 2020
14. Encourage consumers to come back
Every consumer who visits your beer-to-go set-up is a potential return-visitor: they are identifying themselves as someone who wants to support your brewery and is willing to drive to pick-up to-go beer. It is important that you work to ensure that these consumers return week after week. You should collect their contact information to be able to communicate about your next beer release. If you are able to, consider throwing in a $5 gift card for orders over $50.
In terms of content, it is also important to tell the story of your brewery and the people behind it. At a time when consumers are keen to support small businesses, it will help to have the story behind your brewery readily available online.
15. Use all of the information available to you
Additional resources for craft breweries beer-to-go set-up:
Brewers Association resource hub – https://www.brewersassociation.org/resource-hub/covid-19/
CDC Situation Summary – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html
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