Some of the Beer Cartel team, including founders Richard Kelsey, second from left,
and Geoff Huens, fourth from left.

We’ve all probably guessed online sales of craft beer have been through the roof for much of this year as people took their hobby home and ordered online – often for the first time. But now the proof is in, with Australia’s biggest online retailer specialising in craft beer – Beer Cartel – reporting extraordinary sales figures month after month since the pandemic changed people’s buying habits almost overnight.

As we await their 2020 Australian Craft Beer Survey results to be reported, Beer Cartel have told Beer & Brewer that in several months this year they have witnessed 100 per cent growth while they have doubled the size of their staff to cope with demand. (We’ll bring you the results of Beer Cartel’s survey next week.)

“This year has been absolutely massive for us. We have a target growth rate of 25 per cent each year, but this year we’ve had months where we’ve grown by over 100 per cent,” co-founder Richard Kelsey said.

“We’ve doubled the staff we employ, including picking up a lot of people that had their jobs stopped because of COVID. And then we really shifted how we pick and pack orders. We are now picking hundreds of parcels each day with ease, all while making sure that people are getting exactly what they’re ordering as quickly as possible.”

Richard said it had been an exciting ride as they “crammed two to three year’s growth” into this year to date.

“The great thing is we were still able to keep up with orders and get them picked, packed and sent within the same timelines we always have (anything ordered through Beer Cartel before 8am is picked and sent that day).

“Which is an amazing result and a reflection of the great team we have. There has definitely been a bit of pressure, and while we would much prefer COVID never existed, it has been a year we’ll never forget.”

In the quickly changing landscape, reconfigured by COVID, Beer Cartel felt their ability to evolve and cope with the massive increase in demand, by refining their processes, was key to their success.

“We’ve also created new products such as our Isolation Beer Packs which were a real hit, plus increased our stock levels to keep up with the big increase in demand,” Richard said.

“Alongside these there has been a huge increase in our beer subscriptions, plus we’ve created strong partnerships with some of our most popular breweries such as Mountain Culture to ensure we have the beers everyone loves and wants.

“We are pretty active on social media and have actually increased this over the last little while. We have our own Facebook group – Beer Cartel Craft Beer Collective – which now has over 6,000 members where we do things like craft beer trivia and just share anything and everything that is craft beer related.

“We are hugely passionate about the craft beer industry and do things like our craft beer survey which is our way of giving back to the industry and has tens of thousands of people take part each year.

“Alongside that I would say we have the best mix of craft beer available online in Australia which means people can access what they are most interested in. And that coupled with getting orders quickly to customers in great condition means the experience people have with us is a great one. For us, online is the main part of our business, whereas for others it’s a secondary thought. We are hugely focused on making this the absolute best experience for customers it can be.”

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