By buying BoozeBud, Australia’s leading online liquor marketplace and delivery platform, AB InBev sends shockwaves through the Australian retail and beverage market. As it became known today ZX Ventures, the global disruptive growth and innovation group within AB InBev, acquired the 6-year old company at an undisclosed sum.
BoozeBud has about 400 suppliers in Australia and around the world including, Mexico, Scotland, France, Japan, and the US and offers a nationwide distribution across Australia. In Sydney and soon also in Brisbane and Melbourne the company even offers same day delivery.
BoozeBud, was founded in 2012 by Andy Williamson, Alex Gale, and Mark Woollcott, who worked before in finance and dealt with a range of online market leaders. The founders saw a shift in consumer behavior from „from brand to style“ and the need to offer them „hundreds of smaller craft breweries and distillers to sample.“
„There’s thousands of local breweries, wineries and distilleries that you’ll never see in a bottle shop simply because they’re too small to market and distribute their products Australia-wide,“, says Williamson. “An online marketplace that’s underpinned by a national logistics network can aggregate thousands of producers [and] can solve these issues which is literally physically impossible for a bottle shop to do.”
Besides the physical delivery of products, an online marketplace can also give consumers more information about the products. In the words of Williamson, „BoozeBud connects consumers directly with their favorite brands through its producer profile pages and tasting notes, which allow them to explore the story behind the product and the producer’s background.“
It is not the first time that AB InBev buys into an online business. In April this year, ZX Ventures bought UK-based spirits company Atom Group including its online spirits retailer Master of Malt. (inside.beer, 24.4.2018) Already as early as 2016, ZX Ventures acquired America’s leading home brewing supplier Northern Brewer and its sister company Midwest Supplies, which also offer a huge variety of products online. (inside.beer, 19.10.2016)
According to AB InBev, BoozeBud will continue to operate independently from the mother company. “The management independence, this autonomy of certain decisions was important from day one in our conversations,“ says Williamson. “From our perspective nothing changes. We’ve always been about a business that represents every supplier and this should be a good thing for suppliers. The resources and the capital that we now have will allow us to build a much bigger business and that is going to allow every supplier to put more of their products in the hands of more people around the country.”
First reactions by retailers and other suppliers point in another direction. Retailers expressed their concerns about whether BoozeBud will offer AB InBev product at prices which can not be matched by the traditional trade. Most of the suppliers are also shocked that the biggest brewer in Australia is now dominating also the emerging online business. Most of them will adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude and will decide in the future upon a possible delisting of their products.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is more relaxed about the deal. Asked by Australian news platform The Shout, ACCC confirmed that it will not be investigating the transaction.