The world of online retail is more exciting and complex than ever, and has moved on from the traditional e-commerce on which it was built. 

In a recent presentation from IRI’s ‘On The Pulse’ series, Channel Insights Manager, Dan Bone, explored a number of themes that are influencing and developing the future of e-retail. One of which was e-commerce ecosystems, exploring how retailers can tap into wider customer bases and leverage digital assets in new ways. As part of this theme, Bone discussed the opportunity around the marketplace model.

“The idea of an e-commerce ecosystem is also underpinned by enhancing scale, it’s about providing interconnected reasons for the customer to allocate a higher share of wallet to the banner,” Bone said.

“When it comes to e-commerce, we need to be thinking of ways to extend value and loyalty.”

Marketplaces can give retailers more touchpoints with consumers, creating more reach and adding to seamless omnichannel experiences that foster further customer loyalty. If brands and retailers can deliver on customer expectations from multiple angles, the customers will want to actively seek these brands and retailers out for future purchases. 

When talking about marketplaces, the platforms that will most likely come to mind for many are Amazon and eBay, being two of the biggest marketplace sites in the world. The most common operation in the liquor space is for suppliers to sell directly through these large multi-category marketplaces to consumers, or for the suppliers to leverage a retailer-hosted marketplace, like that of Endeavour Group. 

Of course, these larger examples aren’t something that would be easy for smaller or specialty retailers to tap into. But across all sectors of retail, there are countless marketplaces operating in a variety of ways and this includes liquor. 

Shlomo Di Veroli, Co-founder of startup liquor marketplace CellarsMarket which launched late last year, said marketplace systems can be a key part of any retailer’s omnichannel offering and give their online sales and traffic an edge compared to simple e-commerce stores. 

“It’s another avenue for them, and that should really be part of the strategy for any sort of retailer. They’ve got the bricks and mortar stores, the social media presence, but they should also have an omnichannel presence [beyond this],” Di Veroli said. 

“Having your own website is important, but at the same time, selling on marketplaces is too. Each one brings traffic and you’ll get sales from it. Everyone is in business to make an income, and to make an income online, you’ve got to have exposure and traffic.”

CellarsMarket is one of the platforms that operate differently to the larger and supplier oriented marketplaces. It allows retailers to sign up as sellers on the site, alongside the suppliers themselves (like producers, wholesalers, distributors and importers). Retailers have control over their own prices and shipping costs to different areas, meaning they can stay competitive both on and outside the platform while also being able to set conditions on their prices that work for their business model. 

Di Veroli said this was designed with smaller, specialty and niche retailers and producers in mind. 

“We have one seller who specialises in kosher wine, another specialises in Japanese whisky, another in high end rums Cognacs and other spirits, and one that specialises in Tasmanian products, and those are the sort of retailers we want to attract,” Di Veroli said. 

By having so many unique specialities under one marketplace, there is the chance to draw more customers at scale. While these customers are looking for specific things on the marketplace, they can browse the range of other products and retailers on the platform, which increases exposure for all retailers that form the marketplace. With marketing and SEO handled by the host marketplace, there is little retailers need to do to receive this exposure, compared to their own avenues of e-commerce. 

“There are quite a few sellers [on CellarsMarket] that fall into that category of having their own bricks and mortar store, and having their own website and presence, but not having that much traffic coming via that site they have built,” Di Veroli said. 

CellarsMarket has been able to integrate its systems with the online ordering capability behind these types of sites, through building an app that works with popular shopping carts like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento and Woo Commerce. It’s not about creating a whole new time-intensive tool for retailers, but a new avenue that taps into existing systems.

The tools that will make the most impact on the bottom line of liquor retailers are ones that can seamlessly work in the background to deliver sales, and this is why multiple easy touchpoints online is key.

Currently, Di Veroli said there are around 50-60 sellers on CellarsMarket and more than 19,000 product listings, both of which numbers are growing all the time. The business is also has big plans for new areas of growth, focusing more on SEO and Google indexing, affiliate schemes, content creation via a blog, and even international expansion one day. 

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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