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Breaking down the tech stack for breweries and wineries

Whether it’s managing staff, sourcing ingredients, creating a best-in-class product, running a taproom, or coordinating sales (just to name a few!), running a brewery or cidery is hard. It can be difficult to stay organized, track key business metrics, and keep employees informed. Many brewery and cidery owners are turning to technology and software solutions to streamline processes, so that they can spend more time making the products they love.

At Ekos, we were curious about the technology these business owners rely on to make their lives easier, so we set out to analyze nearly 1,500 breweries and cideries . In our analysis, we looked at the software that each craft business uses for accounting, point-of-sale (POS), e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), internal communication, and overall business management. While our analysis reinforced some things we already knew, it also illuminated new challenges and opportunities for craft producers who want to not just survive, but thrive.

A sneak peek at the findings

In some categories, such as accounting software, there was a clear, dominant choice. Our analysis found that 9 out of 10 breweries and cideries use Intuit® QuickBooks® to manage bookkeeping and accounting. In the report, we dive deeper into choices by industry, location, and production volume. We also found that many breweries saw value in an accounting system that could sync with their inventory management software. Benefits of integrating inventory and accounting software include:

  • Saving 15-20 hours per month on reconciliation between systems
  • Streamlining communication between departments
  • Easily viewing real-time financial data
  • Knowing the true cost of products
  • Collecting compliance data for tax reporting
  • Scaling the business with all data living in one place

In other categories, such as point-of-sale (POS) and e-commerce, there is much more diversity in vendor choices. A few partners, including Square, rose to the top in both categories, but still face competition from other partners who may offer different features, or have an expertise in a particular niche. The report provides guidance on questions to ask vendors and criteria to consider, helping business owners determine the right system for their specific needs.

Responding to COVID & other challenges

The craft beverage industry has been directly affected by COVID this year, with taproom shutdowns leading to loss of revenue. With these challenges, three realities have become abundantly clear:

  • When owners know and understand their business’s key metrics, they’re more likely to succeed. Smart business owners push to make decisions based on data, and obsess over having complete visibility into their business.
  • Technology and software play a key role across all areas of the business – from inventory tracking and production management to communication, accounting, and sales management.
  • Having multiple sales channels is imperative. For example, finding ways to sell outside the taproom has proven imperative during the COVID-19 crisis. Owners who keep up with changes in consumer behavior and adjust accordingly – even when times are good – will have the advantage.

Our new analysis helps shine a light on technology that can help business owners get a better understanding of their operation, find ways to be more efficient, and be prepared for uncertainty. We’ve seen a huge shift in the way that breweries and cideries interact with, and sell to, customers, with the rise of e-commerce, curbside pickup, and delivery options. This used to be a nice-to-have to supplement taproom sales, but has now become a key sales channel that craft producers rely on.

Download the analysis

If you’re interested in learning more about the technology that powers successful craft beverage makers, you can download the white paper, “Building a Tech Stack: An Analysis of Breweries and Cideries .” In addition to learning about the most popular software options, the report includes insights on the rise of e-commerce, a case study of a brewery during COVID-19, tips for selecting the right tech partner, and best practices for managing a craft business with technology.

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