In the June issue of National Liquor News, Raff Palermo, Head of Digital at Australian Liquor Marketers (ALM), discusses the company’s online strategy and how this supports its network of Independent Brands Australia (IBA) retailers.

National Liquor News: What is the role of e-commerce at IBA right now?

Raff Palermo: E-commerce is a top priority for the business. Over the past two years, ALM has been investing in its digital capability, ramping up scale and focusing on customer
centric execution and experience.

Continually raising our game has meant we have moved from marketplace model ShopMyLocal, to IBA bannered standalone e-commerce sites for Cellarbrations, The Bottle-O and Porters Liquor, facilitating expanding shopper missions. Pleasingly, in a short period of time we have become an integrated offering; both the physical and online retail offerings have come together in one strategy, one plan and one conversation with our retail and supplier partners.

The second important part of e-commerce is catering to the surge in on-demand deliveries, which are expanding our audiences and their new shopping preferences. We currently have partnerships with Uber Eats and DoorDash marketplaces in this quick commerce channel, servicing stores in Victoria, New South Wales and now Queensland.

Our e-commerce strategy and our future mindset is about being not just relevant in all paths to purchase but to lead the e-commerce space for our retailers.

NLN: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges for ALM in this digital space this year?

RP: It is all about the shopper and consumer experience. Technology and the fulfilment is critical to any e-commerce channel and consumer expectation since COVID has increased. Same day delivery, and partnerships with providers that can facilitate this, as well as agile solutions for regional stores. Shoppers have heightened awareness around their orders so it’s critical we keep our promises on delivery time frames.

Click and collect order fulfilment has become resurgent again, increasing by more than 20 per cent since the start of December last year. Shoppers are coming in-store for a number of reasons, including convenience and safety (not needing to browse in-store), flexibility (browsing instore), and immediacy (with rapid purchase and collection options). Selling via digital channels creates increased ‘stickiness’ of consumers for our retailers with more reasons for shoppers to interact with them.

NLN: Do you have any new initiatives you’re excited about for this year?

RP: Consumer personalisation. Consumers have an expectation on how their data is being used to make their online experiences richer. Our ability to create scale and brand visibility for our retailers across the three banners but balance it with a local and personalisation for their individual outlet will, I believe, really see us lead in this space.

NLN: How are you supporting IBA members in the online space right now?

RP: Our digital platforms are designed with IBA retailers in mind, and we will partner with retailers in all aspects. Training, onboarding, order fulfilment hardware, fraud protection and prevention, marketing, customer service and lead generation is through the line integrated. We will support our retailers in delivering an exceptional experience for their online shoppers. These things are done centrally and executed locally for the benefit of the whole network.

NLN: How do you see the liquor retail landscape evolving in the online space in the next 12 months?

RP: Online sales are reported be in the vicinity of $2.0bn, which makes up nearly 10 per cent of total liquor retail. While we won’t experience the multi-year growth that happened during lockdowns, and inflation will impact it, the growth of online will continue at a faster rate than physical retail. For me, a baseline has been set – shoppers are now comfortable buying online and will continue to do so.

This won’t mean the erosion of physical retail – we want to use online solutions to complement in-store and invest online growth back into bricks and mortar businesses. We know consumers still want to shop local and we are enabling them to do this across the full path to purchase. Replicating our physical strength online boosts convenience for consumers and coverage for our retailers.

Find this interview and the rest of the annual banner group feature in the June issue of National Liquor News.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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