How to successfully pivot into e-commerce within weeks

While coronavirus has hit the retail industry hard, in the past month, it’s been inspiring to see the businesses that have quickly pivoted their focus onto e-commerce initiatives.

Within just a few weeks, Independent Brands Australia (IBA) and Marketplacer created online platform ShopMyLocal from scratch, incorporating six brands, including Cellarbrations, The Bottle-O, Thirsty Camel, IGA Liquor, Porters Liquor, and Big Bargain. As reflected in its name, the site aims to encourage Australians to support and buy from their local bottle shop. 

IBA is part of the Metcash Group, Australia’s leading wholesale distribution and marketing company with sales of over $14 billion in FY19. IBA has the second largest network of liquor retail outlets in Australia with approximately 2,700 stores.

According to the IBA, less than three per cent of IBA’s retailers previously had an online selling presence and were looking for ways to engage with consumers now shopping online from home.

“We know that shoppers have differing shopping missions, with more than 12 per cent of shoppers having purchased liquor online in 2019. Connecting shoppers with their local liquor store in an online capacity is our single-minded focus,” said Raff Palermo, Head of Digital Commerce and Loyalty at IBA. 

“ShopMyLocal complements current members’ offline businesses. By adding click-and-collect and home delivery, we are providing additional convenient options for our local shoppers.”

The IBA and Marketplacer teams took an accelerated approach to going live and thought creatively to launch the site three months ahead of schedule. One of the challenges involved finding ways to factor in pricing and stock levels Australia-wide, given each member and region within the IBA community can be different. 

“IBA also realised that in this current quarantine environment, shoppers who may never have been digitally-minded were being forced down that path,” explained Chris Skelton, chief customer officer at Marketplacer. “The mentality is what a shopper learns now, they will keep with them when the quarantine is lifted, so offering a fantastic experience that rivals and exceeds other retailers’ capabilities can net you a lifetime customer if executed correctly.”

Since the launch of the site, over 150 stores Australia-wide have come onto the ShopMyLocal platform with the ability to scale up quickly, as hundreds more come on board in the next couple of months. 

According to Skelton, since the pandemic, many physical retailers have needed to quickly get online, establish their distribution channels and adapt their delivery methods to support customers. Many previously had a centralised e-commerce site that ran separately to their store networks, but now, they’ve scaled all their stores onto the one platform to provide better options for customers staying at home.

 “We have seen that a marketplace platform is a fast and cost-effective solution to help retailers integrate their stores (or third party sellers) into their e-commerce offering and provide click-and-collect or home delivery options to their customers,” said Skelton. “It has also allowed them to extend their product range to customers beyond what they can offer in their physical stores.”

Marketplacer is a global technology platform enabling customers to create all types of online marketplaces. It’s portfolio now comprises over 60 online marketplaces representing 11,000 businesses across 11 countries, servicing over 50-million annual users and was recently named in the Australian Financial Review’s list of Fast 100 companies. To find out more information about Marketplacer, click here.

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