Food & Beverage

Success on Tap: How Beer Hawk Conquered the Craft Beer Market

Since Beer Hawk launched on Magento in 2012, they have achieve astronomical eCommerce growth and successfully rode the wave of popularity for craft beer.
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+57.8% Year-on-year Revenue
+29.4% Website Conversion Rate
+9.11% Average Order Value

The British beer brand needed a serious technology upgrade.

In 2012, British entrepreneurs Mark Roberts and Chris France abandoned their careers in marketing to pursue their passion for craft and speciality beer. They dreamed of offering UK craft beer fans the unique opportunity to enjoy the very best beers from around the World, in the comfort of their own homes. Their fledgling online brand, Beer Hawk, quickly grew from strength to strength, stocking over 1,000 beers online. In February of 2016, following staggering year-on-year revenue increases of up to 110 percent, Beer Hawk was acquired by ZX Ventures – a subsidiary of the brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev.

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Beer Hawk’s loyal customers are passionate about discovering their next favourite beer, while others want to purchase beer for birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day, and Christmas. Key corporate partnerships with brands including Amazon, Moonpig.com, and Not On the High Street, now make up a third of the company’s revenue. In the past year alone the website has seen over 150,000 transactions across both B2C and B2B. Beer Hawk’s Magento 1 Open Source store was starting to feel the pressure. A side effect of the store’s massive growth was its three million lines of code. “It had slowed the business down,” said Mark Roberts. Beer Hawk needed an eCommerce solution to increase stability, reduce technical debt, and enable agile marketing.

When we met with Magento and Pinpoint it was obvious that they fit very closely with our values and how we work...they became an extension of our team.

Mark Roberts
Founder of Beer Hawk

The beer industry moves fast.

Since December of 2017, Beer Hawk has worked in close partnership with the Solution Partner, Pinpoint. Together, they decided to upgrade to Magento Commerce 2, with Roberts setting an aggressive deadline of three months. The latest version of the platform would deliver a simpler digital operation, and allow the Beer Hawk marketing team to work more effectively. “One of the great advantages with Magento is that you can evolve and change your marketing quickly,” said Roberts. “We like to move fast.”

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Optimized store views and categories help customers to find the perfect brew by beer type (gluten free, IPA, lager), by country of origin, and even by brewery. On the back end, life is simpler too, with less complex code and no technical debt. The Magento Customer Service Manager recommended to Beer Hawk a personalization from Nosto, allowing the brand to analyze hundreds of thousands of data points across the store in real-time, and deliver one-to-one marketing campaigns. This resulted in a nine percent rise in Average Order Value (AOV). Beer lovers who utilize the site’s Klevu search functionality convert at 3x higher rates than those who don’t.

Meanwhile, at Beer Hawk’s physical store in London’s South Bank, there is further evidence of the success of experiential retail. Twelve taps pour the world’s top beers, while customers enjoy brews from a ‘Perfect Draft’ machine. They can even Click & Collect – order their beer online and pick up in the physical location, increasing foot traffic to the store.

Customer feedback in the bar is critical for Beer Hawk, said Roberts, because it helps connect the online and offline experience, earning the company more lifetime customers. “We love talking to people about beer – we want to educate and inspire people to find their next favourite beer,” he said. Customer loyalty is key, and Beer Hawk is at work on a loyalty scheme to allow customers to collect and spend beer tokens, online and in the store.

A toast to experience-driven commerce.

The Beer Hawk upgrade to Magento Commerce 2 was a great success, and was completed just three days after the company’s ambitious three month deadline. The results were as welcome as a cold beer on a hot summer’s day: B2C revenue shot up 58 percent year-on-year, while the average page load time dropped by a staggering 39 percent, making the Beer Hawk site faster than ever. The success of the online store is dovetailing nicely with the opening of an experiential physical store in London’s South Bank, in June of 2018. The store is so popular that the company is now on the hunt for more omnichannel premises.

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Roberts said: “The industry at large is starting to see more pure eCommerce retailers think about omnichannel...and the benefits that having a physical presence can bring in terms of experience. If a customer can connect with a brand in a physical way, it creates a stronger emotional connection.” Roberts, who has personally taken Beer Hawk customers to Oktoberfest in the name of experiential commerce, says that websites can feel “very transactional.” But he’s working with Pinpoint on Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) to explore new ways of delivering experiences to customers. There’s even a Beer Hawk subscription service, where a skilled beer buyer curates 12 beers for the customer based on their tasting preferences. And we can all raise a glass to that.