With home delivery and local pickup, Molson Coors lays its direct-to-consumer foundation
Food and beverage
Multi-channel and omnichannel, Speed to launch
For more than two centuries, Molson Coors Beverage Company has been brewing drinks that unite people for all of life’s moments. But in 2020, when COVID-19 disrupted the company’s traditional sales and distribution channels, it faced a difficult situation.
With bars and restaurants closed, and retail partners operating only on limited hours, the company needed a more direct way to get its products to consumers. With Shopify Plus, Molson Coors was able to:
- Launch an online store in 10 days, enabling local delivery in Toronto
- Grow sales 188% month over month
- Build an ongoing direct relationship with consumers across the Molson Coors portfolio of brands
Molson Coors jovially refers to summer as the “Christmas of beer,” representing the largest annual sales period for its portfolio of beers including Coors Light, Molson Canadian, Miller Genuine Draft, Belgian Moon, and others.
Although the company had explored ecommerce options in the past, the strength of its existing business model and restrictions on the online sale of alcohol in Canada meant it had not been prioritized.
As the impact of COVID-19 was becoming clear, the company rallied. It saw how other large, established brands in adjacent verticals had launched online ordering, leveraging local delivery and curbside pickup to help consumers continue to buy from trusted brands in new ways.
Molson Coors was determined to launch a direct-to-consumer model in time for its busy summer period, centered around Canada Day on July 1.
The situation was changing daily. It was clear to us that accelerating our ecommerce capability had never been as pressing as it was in that very moment. We knew we had to act quickly and with agility."
Molson Coors explored various options, seeking a platform that was built on a robust and easy-to-use online shopping experience that would also offer the capability to connect offline operations, too.
The company chose Shopify Plus, and Shopify Plus Agency Partner Stream Commerce was engaged to help, working closely with the Shopify Plus launch team to quickly scope the requirements of the project—including navigating the intricacies of online alcohol sales.
Together, the decision was made to launch a branded ecommerce website, Ship and Sip, allowing consumers to order online for direct delivery from Molson’s Toronto brewery retail store.
“The Ship and Sip launch is a great example of how large organizations can mobilize quickly,” says Nadine Iacocca, a partner and chief strategy and growth officer at Stream Commerce. “We knew we weren’t going to get the experience 100% perfect immediately due to the quick-launch objective. However, Molson Coors recognized the incredible revenue opportunity that would otherwise pass them by had they waited to navigate organizational barriers common to many large organizations.”
Ship and Sip was planned to launch with a curated selection of beer products, featuring delivery available across the GTA—the company’s largest distinct customer base in Canada. Customers would make their selection, then use Shopify Payments to quickly and securely transact. The choice could be made for home delivery, or customers could pick up from Molson Coors’ brewery in Toronto. Shoppers also had the option to purchase directly at the brewery using Shopify POS to checkout.
The Ship and Sip consumer experience has allowed the Molson Coors team to engage in real-time brand experiences with consumers at their homes or at our brewery. With platforms like Shopify Plus, and day-by-day collaboration with our partner Stream Commerce, we are confident that we can achieve our launch revenue goal, as well as segue into the multi-brand direct-to-consumer space for the first time.
Molson Coors smoothly launched Ship and Sip in time for Canada Day. Leveraging its marketing experience, the company drove massive interest via social media and public relations. Molson Coors raised a flag above its iconic brewery, alongside Canada’s busiest highway, highlighting that free delivery was now available to Torontonians.
Shortly after launch, Molson Coors ran a unique promotion in tandem with the NHL and the NHL Alumni Association, where famous hockey player alumni surprised consumers with delivery of limited edition products only available via Ship and Sip’s website.
Sales numbers are proving Ship and Sip’s adoption is growing. Comparing the days surrounding a holiday weekend in August 2020 to the days surrounding a holiday weekend in September 2020, sales were up 188%, orders were up 152%, and conversion rates were up 109% month-over-month.
Recognizing that consumer shopping changes brought on by COVID-19 are not temporary, the company is now growing its available product offering online, exploring the steps needed to expand into new metropolitan areas. Stream Commerce is helping to guide these next steps, introducing new capabilities in personalization, conversion, and loyalty by tapping Shopify Plus Certified Apps.
Molson Coors has also made some optimizations based on its early learnings of reaching customers directly. It has:
- Expanded product assortment to better cater to consumer requests for wider variety
- Enhanced site visuals and content to be optimized better for mobile, given that mobile visits has accounted for the vast majority of traffic
- Continued A/B testing on different creative messaging and landing pages to better tap into consumer insight and behaviour
In the end, beyond another sales channel to complement its wholesale model, Molson Coors’ new model provides the company with its first direct relationship with customers. It can now provide samples, test new products, invite feedback, and gain insights on customer tastes and preferences like it never could before.
By building our direct-to-consumer service, we’re able to grow sales of our iconic brands. But it’s a lot more about the direct relationship that we now have with our customers and being able to adapt to their needs as we learn.