If you run a craft brewery, it's a great idea to set up a brewery online store. This is a great way to meet customer demands and sell beer online.
The COVID-19 pandemic left many breweries are unable to meet their sales targets. All of their usual ways of selling were affected by:
- Supplying craft beers to pubs and restaurants.
- Face-to-face sales directly from their brewery shop.
- Stores and shops they supply craft beers to.
For some microbreweries, selling online became the only way to stay in business and maintain their bottom line. Even with the world opening up again, it is now clear that online sales are essential for success.
The good news is that you can set up an e-commerce website to sell beer online. This is also a great way to reduce costs and overheads as you cut out the middleman and sell directly to the public. And the best part is that it's surprisingly easy to set up!
In this article, we’ll show you how to set up a brewery online store using the free WordPress and WooCommerce platforms. You can then choose between two excellent brewery plugins to list your beer in a quick one-page order form: WooCommerce Product Table and WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering.
Setting up WordPress and WooCommerce
We recommend using WordPress and WooCommerce to power your brewery online store. This is because they're easy to set up yourself, and you can sell beer online in a few simple steps. Plus, most of the software you’ll need is open-source and free to use.
This means you won’t have to pay a commission like you would if you were to sell on a hosted e-commerce platform. Finally, selling beer online through your own brewery online store means that you have full control over the look and feel of your store and payouts.
If you don’t already have a WordPress site with WooCommerce installed on it, we recommend checking out these helpful articles:
Once you’ve set up your basic WooCommerce-powered online store, come back here and follow the instructions to sell beer online.
Which is the best brewery plugin for selling beer online?
Once you've installed WordPress and WooCommerce, you need to choose a brewery plugin to list the beers on your public-facing website. Beer sells best in a one-page order form layout, where customers can select the beers they want and quickly add them to their cart.
You can do this by installing either the WooCommerce Product Table or WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugins. They both convert the free WooCommerce plugin into a purpose-built food and drink ordering system.
Choose whichever plugin has the appearance and features you need, and then skip ahead to the setup instructions.
WooCommerce Product Table - Best for listing large numbers of beers
WooCommerce Product Table makes it quick and easy to find specific fine beers. Customers can use the filter dropdowns, column sorting and keyword search to find exactly what they're looking for. As a result, we recommend this beer ordering plugin if you have a large alcoholic drinks catalog.
Each drink is listed on its own row in a one-page order form (or multiple pages if you want pages for ale, lager, wine, golden apple mead, dark beeretc.). You can choose which columns of information to display. Customers can choose quantities and options, select multiple beers, and quickly add them to the cart.
WooCommerce Product Table is great for selling beer online for several reasons:
- Structured layout It offers a neat and organized layout for listing various beers.
- List beers on one page.Unlike the default WooCommerce shop page, you can use WooCommerce Product Table to list all of your beers on one page with small images. This way, each beer won’t take up lots of space like the standard e-commerce layout that’s better suited for selling more visual products (like clothes).
- Quick order form WooCommerce Product Table gives you a quick order form layout. Think of it this way: customers buying beer online will nearly always want to buy multiple beers at once. So, it’s much better to give them the option to select the required quantity of each type of beer and quickly add them all to their shopping cart. This way, they don’t have to visit a separate page to add each beer to their cart.
- Customizable The WooCommerce Product Table plugin also gives you the option to choose which information to include in the list of beers. For example, you can choose to display information about the glass bottle size, strength, type of ale, and so on.
Setup instructions →
WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering - Best for a clean, simple layout
If you have a few dozen beers or less, then you might prefer the clean and minimalist design of the WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin. It creates a simple list of your beers and other drink products.
There are lots of reasons why WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering is perfect for selling beer online:
- Quick 5-minute setupWhen you install the plugin, it does everything for you and automatically creates a one-page order form page listing your beers. This is divided into category so that customers can easily find what they need.
- Flexible optionsYou can choose whether to include information such as the image and product description, and how many columns to list your beers in.
- Sell variations and quantity optionsYou can add options as variations (e.g. if a particular beer is available individually or as a crate), which the customer can select from a lightbox popup.
Setup instructions →
How to set up a brewery online store using WooCommerce Product Table
By now you should already have a WooCommerce store set up. Here’s what you need to do next to set up a brewery online store:
Step #1: Get the WooCommerce Product Table plugin
Get the WooCommerce Product Table plugin and install it on your WordPress site. You’ll receive the plugin files and license key in an email.
Log in to your WordPress admin panel and head over to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Product tables. Enter the license key you received in the License key field to activate it.
Click the Save changes button at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
Step #2: Configure the plugin’s settings
The next step is to configure the WooCommerce Product Table plugin settings for your brewery online store. Here’s what you need to do:
Since you’re setting up a brewery online store, we recommend replacing the standard WooCommerce layouts in your theme with the product table.
For this, all you have to do is tick the checkboxes next to the Shop page and the Product category archives option.
Use the Columns option to specify which columns you’d like to show in the front-end table layout. Here’s a complete list of product table columns you can choose from. At the bare minimum, we recommend displaying
You might have created product attributes when adding craft beers to WooCommerce as products. This is an easy way to store extra information about each beer (such as the strength (i.e. ABV), type (e.g. IPA, double IPA, pale ale, seltzer), bottle size, or additional attributes (like bestsellers or limited edition beers).
WooCommerce Product Table makes it easy to display them as attribute columns in the table. To do this, use
att:<attribute name>. For example, if you wanted to display the beer strength, you’d add
image,name,short-description,att:strength,price,buy to the Columns option.
Add to cart column
As we mentioned earlier, customers will likely want to purchase multiple beers at once from your brewery online store. We recommend setting the Add to cart button option to either Checkbox only or Button and checkbox using the dropdown menu.
In addition, you’ll want to tick the checkbox next to the Quantities option to show quantity selectors in the add to cart column. This way, customers can add multiple units of a specific beer to their cart at once.
If you sell variable products then you should set the Variations option to Dropdown lists in add to cart column. This way, customers can quickly select different options for each craft beer. For example, they can choose to purchase an individual bottle, growler, a 6-pack, box, keg, or crate. Or, you can have different types of barrels such as dark oak barrels or small barrels and big barrels. This is especially useful for brewery online stores that would like to sell to wholesale customers, as well.
WooCommerce Product Table lets you add attribute filters to your front-end table layout. This makes it easy for customers to quickly find the types of beers they’d like to purchase.
For example, you can create attributes for IPA, craft beer, homebrew, lager, pilsner, wheatbeer, and so on and let customers select beers based on alcoholic strength (i.e. alcohol levels or high-proof liquor).
Set the Product filters option to Custom using the dropdown menu and add the attribute filters you’d like to the Custom filters option. For example, add
att:strength if you’d like to display the Strength attribute as a filter.
Your brewery online store might look something like this:
How to use WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering to sell beer online
If you'd rather list your beers in a clean and simple order form, then WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering is perfect for you.
- Get WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering and install it on your WordPress site.
- Find the plugin settings page at WooCommerce → Settings → Restaurant.
- Choose how you want your brewery order form to work. This includes choosing what information to display and the number of columns.
- Go to the Pages section of the WordPress admin, find the new page called 'Restaurant Ordering' and rename it to something more appropriate like 'Order Beer Online'.
- Now view the page. You will see your beers and other drinks listed in a professional-looking one-page order form, structured by category:
Add age verification and shipping options
Since most countries across the world restrict the sale of beer based on age, you’ll want to set up age verification on your brewery online store. Check out our separate tutorial on how to add a WordPress age validation pop-up to your store or prevent under-age people from accessing it.
In addition, you might also want to set up postage costs for cool beer since it’s heavy. You can do this using the flat rate options built into WooCommerce.
You can also use the Table Rate Shipping plugin if you want to charge different postage based on weight.
It’s also worth mentioning that WooCommerce offers a local pickup shipping option which is suitable for local brewery online stores that can offer curbside pickup options. This way, customers don’t have to pay postage.
Bonus: Sell merchandise for your brewery
You can also use the WooCommerce Product Table and WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugins to sell merchandise for your brewery. This is a great way to establish your brand and supplement your income without doing hard work.
Some popular merch ideas for breweries include branded stickers, gift cards, t-shirts, and hoodies. You can also sell glassware like a branded pint glass or beer mugs.
You can follow the same techniques to sell merch through your brewery online store. We recommend creating a separate category (with sub-categories, if necessary) for the merch. This way, you can display it on separate pages on your brewery online store.
Add a wholesale area to sell to pubs and restaurants
Many breweries will benefit from a wholesale area that they can use to sell beer kegs, boxes, and crates to pubs, shops, restaurants, and other stores that they supply beer to.
These stores can then place their orders online and be charged the correct wholesale price rather than the regular price. The key benefit of selling beer wholesale online is that it saves a lot of time as compared to taking orders manually over the phone. Check out our tutorial on how to create a WooCommerce wholesale store.
Case study: How Beer Drive Thru uses WooCommerce Product Table to sell beers online
The Beer Drive Thru brewery store needed a way to sell beers to customers in an efficient way. Initially, they were looking for a simple way to set up a single page solution or one-page shop. This would allow Beer Drive Thru customers to choose their beers and place their orders, all from one page.
Using the WooCommerce Product Table plugin, they were able to start selling beers online and keep their business operations running during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Stylish and functional
Customers can visit the brewery online store to select the beers they'd like to purchase, set the quantity, and place their order in advance. Then, they can drive into the car park area at the brewery store for contactless pickup (similar to curbside pickup). This is perfect for selling beers during the lockdown.
Beer Drive Thru also offers nationwide delivery options. Using the WooCommerce Product Table plugin, the brewery set up two different order forms with different available options and prices for their beers.
Set up your own brewery online store
A brewery online store is a great way to avoid operational restrictions and reach a wider audience. And the easiest way to sell beer online is by using the WooCommerce Product Table or WooCommerce Restaurant Ordering plugin to showcase the beers you sell and let customers place orders online.
Ready to start selling beer online? Get the plugin today!