When AmazonFresh halted beer and wine delivery in April, the news was likely not overly sobering for major Beer brands. L2’s Insight Report on beer e-tailers finds that most online platforms offer sparse merchandising opportunities, limiting their ability to drive sales.

Even finding beer on most e-tailer sites poses a challenge for consumers, as the category is often buried. The L2 study finds that on all four major e-tailers, reaching the Beer category requires at least three clicks. Only FreshDirect lets customers discover brands through its “Like That? You’ll Love This” recommendation feature.

Beer e-tailers

Peapod, Safeway, and Walmart Grocery all sort products alphabetically, further limiting brand reach. FreshDirect initially sorts products by popularity, then reverts back to alphabetical sorting on the third page. As a result, the study shows that top brands are difficult to find on FreshDirect, while Brooklyn Brewery (a craft beer not ranked in L2’s Beer Index) claims one-fifth of first-page results in the “Beer” category. The brand boasts 19 unique SKUs, thus increasing shelf ownership. In contrast, the average brand has only 2.8 offerings on the e-tailer.

Enterprise Ownership of First-Page “Beer” Category Page on FreshDirect.com

However, some innovative Beer brands have found ways to work around the lack of merchandising opportunities. While FreshDirect does not offer opportunities for brands to pay to boost visibility, such as sponsored listings, the e-tailer does feature editorial sections such as “Local Favorites” page and “Weekly Deals” circulars. Brooklyn Brewery is featured regularly in these sections, ensuring its products maintain visibility.

Similarly, Goose Island (a craft beer that achieved Gifted status in L2’s Beer Index) found success on Peapod by paying to be featured in the e-tailer’s “Sponsored Recipes” section. Goose Island features five recipes on the platform, all of them integrating Goose Island IPA as a key ingredient. Consumers can add the IPA directly to their shopping list and purchase it without leaving the site. By investing in these areas, brands are able to build a presence on e-tailers without directly advertising.

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