When the Coronavirus struck, Australia’s second largest network of liquor retailer outlets Independent Brands Australia (IBA), wasted no time in fast tracking the launch of a new online marketplace platform that would enable its retailers to connect with shoppers online.
Shop MyLocal was launched in partnership with Marketplacer and the design took into account feedback received from IBA retailers who had asked for a platform that could be managed globally while also allowing them to cater to their local areas.
Since launching Shop MyLocal, Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM) CEO, Chris Baddock, says the broader leadership team is already thinking about how the business can continue to evolve post COVID-19.
“Myself, the group leadership team in Metcash and the leadership team in ALM are already lending an ear to what do we do post COVID-19; what do we bring to the fore; how do we ensure that e-commerce is not just a flash in the pan and that we make it even better.
“We need to understand that if the consumer is going to change their habits, that we’re ready to do that. We think value is going to be an important proposition for consumers moving forward, so the way that we buy, and the penetration of private label and the way that our BDMs service the marketplace is going to be critical.”
Baddock told National Liquor News that consumer habits have changed across the board. In brick and mortar retail there has been a shift away from premiumisation and a greater interest in everyday value products, whereas online the mix has been a bit different and much more dominated by wine and spirits. But with no real certainty around how consumer behaviour might continue to shift it was important for the online marketplace to be easily adaptable and agile.
“It would have been easy for us to go and buy a platform that delivered out of our warehouse or used our retailers as a logistics network, but to be brutally honest that’s a dime a dozen. I wanted to try and deliver something that was uniquely independent.
“The independents said that they wanted the opportunity to opt in or opt out; they wanted the opportunity to be able to do click and collect or delivery, or both; they wanted to be able to have their own range and unique independence for their local area.
“But we also understand that setting up an online platform has plenty of idiosyncrasies including cyber crime, the cost of standing up the platform and maintaining it, the cost of customer service, the cost of returns and just the credit card charges that are more in an online platform than they are in brick and mortar because of fraud. So, they wanted to be able to be uniquely independent but also have a platform that can be managed and updated globally.”
Baddock explains that several different platforms were considered. Some were going to cost fortunes while others would have championed ALM’s 14 warehouses across Australia as opposed to championing their independent retailer network. They had to find a hybrid, and that’s what they found in Marketplacer.
The website has been designed to be highly agile and Baddock told National Liquor News that since launching three weeks ago, it has already 60 enhancements.
Some of ALM’s on-premise team were redeployed to this project to help with churning through data and enhancements and to help get more retailers set up. And already 189 retailers across the country are up and running.
“Digital is irritative in that you have the ability to change your shopfront every day because your shopfront is your website. I use the analogy that a smartphone operator, be it android or Apple, they launch a new operating system and within 24 hours they’ll put an update in because they’ve learnt through having the mass users that things need to be changed,” says Baddock.
“When it comes to online you can understand so much about the customer quickly, so it would be a shame if you didn’t use that. Therefore, you adapt to the consumer very quickly, and therefore you need a website that can be updated and is agile. And we think we have found one that can do that.