The Craft Of Choosing The Best Merchant Account For Your Brewery
The ability to accept payments in a range of formats can open the doors to new markets. However, often brewing companies need more than just a convenient way to accept payments: they also need to be able to manage multiple clients, simplify the invoicing and accounting processes and handle inventory effectively.
Fortunately, there are many tools available that can help breweries to do all of this, but first let’s take at some of the growth areas in the U.S. brewing sector.
Brewing: A Booming Industry
The alcohol and brewing industry in the United States is going strong. The distilled spirits sector is on the rise; in 2015, sales grew by 4.1 percent, while volumes increased by 2.3 percent. In total, retail sales totaled more than $70 billion, and the increase in micro-distilleries has also been noted.
Moreover, one of the major growth areas in the United States has been the craft brewing sector. Recent figures show the number of craft breweries has topped 5,000, and the majority of these are independent enterprises.
However, while the expansion of the craft brewery sector is largely regarded as a good thing, it also means more competition for brewers and in such a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult to get noticed among other brands. This means brewery need to diversify by considering selling on a broad range of platforms to reach a variety of markets and offering a variety of sales platforms and payment options.
Detailed below are some of the most common sales avenues, and their possible payment options:
Selling to Wholesalers
The usual route to market is via wholesalers or distributors, in accordance with the 3-tier wholesale distribution system, which is in place in many states. However, self-distribution is possible depending on what state you are in. For instance, Rhinegeist.com are distributing and selling their own beer rather than going through a wholesaler, as are MadTree Brewing.
Possible payment options for wholesale businesses include: POS systems, B2B payment processing, mobile payments, EMV terminals.
Setting Up an Independent Business
The rapid increase in breweries means there is less shelf space and greater competition; this trend means selling to wholesalers and getting products into drinking establishments is far more challenging now than it used to be. However, depending on the state you live in, you might be able to sell directly to consumers, provided you are in compliance with the appropriate laws.
As reported on Quartz, some breweries have chosen to sell their products direct to their local neighborhoods by setting up branded locations, while others have taken a completely unique approach and are allowing the customers to brew the beers that are served. In addition, the Quartz article explains how local brewers have come together to host a festival to promote their products and build interest in their brand.
Possible payment options for independent brewing businesses include: EMV terminal, Point of Sales systems, mobile payments.
The Internet has opened a whole new world for sellers, and the alcohol industry hasn’t been any different; online alcohol sales were expected to exceed $614 million in 2016. This increase is likely to continue over the next five years as consumers start turning to their smartphones and tablets to buy alcohol, rather than shopping at a traditional bricks and mortar stores, so there is an obvious demand for online purchasing, and the considerable increase in craft breweries is creating a greater industry in the sector.
While brewers can face legal restrictions on selling direct to consumers, that doesn’t mean ecommerce isn’t for you: your business can still benefit from having and online presence and you can use your website to create an additional line of income.
By using ecommerce to your advantage, you can create a shop front promote your brand by selling related merchandise like t-shirts, baseball caps, sweaters, coasters stickers, barware, gift packs, and buttons. The merchandise you can create can also be sold at festivals etc., to further build your brand.
In addition, a website can serve as a platform to drive interest in your brand from wholesalers/distributors and build up a following from e-mail marketing and newsletters. It is a means of getting your story out into the public domain.
Payment Options for websites: an ecommerce solution that also allows you to effectively market to your customers, track merchandise inventory and sales, and spot sales trends
Mobile Payment Options
Smaller brewers can find themselves limited to accepting cash or checks as payment, and they risk losing out by not taking credit card payments. However, as a small startup brewery or a craft brewery business, being able to accept mobile payments will make it easier for wholesalers to purchase. In addition:
- If you are selling independently at festivals you can catch consumers who make impulse buys, but might not have any cash on them.
- A further benefit of mobile apps is they can also be utilized in your marketing efforts.
- Offering mobile payments can be a more affordable way to start accepting transactions if you are just starting out and don’t want to invest in a traditional terminal.
However, mobile payments aren’t just for small business or startup companies: they can also serve as a backup system should anything go wrong with your regular terminal.
Possible options for mobile sales include: mobile swiper, portable POS systems.
The brewing industry in the United States is thriving and the craft brewing sector is stronger than ever. However, while this is good news for the industry, brewers face tougher competition, which means they need to look at ways that will help promote their brand, and find alternative means of selling their products, if state laws allow.
Fortunately, there are payment options, such as POS systems that can make the day to day running of a brewing business easier. However, selecting a merchant account that best fits your specific business needs can be a complex process, which is why you should always speak to a payment processor and ask plenty of questions before making your final choice.