Retail Marketing, Leaders Level Up Your Retail Strategies – Interview with Richard Kelsey of Beer Cartel

March 19, 2019   By: Esther Cole

We had an enlightening interview with Richard Kelsey, Director of Beer Cartel and one of the Top 50 People in Australian eCommerce. He shares his insights on sharing your passion in business, taking customers on a journey, and hacking your retail marketing. You’ll learn tons of practical retail strategies here to amplify your game in business. Let’s give it up for Richard!

RLC: We are stoked to know about how Beer Cartel offers quality beers in such creative branding. We believe there so much passion behind the brand, and people have come to love that. What are the strategies you would like to share which make for a likeable business and a brand that many people love? 

Richard: When we first started Beer Cartel (back in 2009) it was because we wanted to share our passion for amazing craft beer with other people and show them that there is so much more to the world of beer than the very limited range that was available in every bottleshop and pub. We wanted to open people’s eyes and share with them the magic of craft beer.

Because we’ve had this passion for sharing ever since starting out, it has really driven our strategy which is very much focused around beer exploration and beer education. Our aim is to take people on a journey into craft beer – the craft beers people start out drinking are very different from the ones they’re drinking in 5 years time. We have a big focus on educating drinkers about craft beer to facilitate this journey and exploration.

It’s a lot of fun and overall that strategy drives all of our comms, from our blog, through to our social media and wider website. It shows we don’t just want to make a sale, but also help people learn along the way. I strongly believe this concept resonates with craft beer drinkers and makes them have a much stronger affinity with us.

RLC: How were you able to scale up Beer Cartel and make it so successful today?  

Richard: It’s been a gradual process but we’ve had some big wins over the last few years which have really accelerated our growth. One was the Australian Craft Beer Survey which we run each year. This has helped add 30,000 to our database over the last 3 years, while also showcasing ourselves as an authority in craft beer, getting significant media attention, and driving sales.

The other is our Beer Advent Calendar which we release for the run into Christmas each year. This is just like your traditional advent calendar where you open a door each day in December and count down the days to Christmas – except we do this with beer, providing a different craft beer to enjoy each day as you count down to Christmas. We’ve only been doing this for three years but it has quickly become a significant part of our business.

RLC: What can you advise retailers in terms of eCommerce strategies and sustaining a business for the long haul? 

Richard: Retail in Australia (and overseas) is always a challenge, and probably now more so than at any other time. We’re constantly seeing bricks and mortar stores close and I think there is probably a reasonably high hit rate on online stores as well – but often they’re too small to notice.

I think there are definite strategies to give you the strongest chance of success for the long haul:

– You need to be building and nurturing a database from the start. Advertising can only get you so far, you need customers where each sale has a low cost of conversion. Similarly, if you are only trying to get a customer to buy from you once it means you are always going to look for new customers.

– Don’t play the price game. There is always a behemoth that is going to be able to do things much cheaper than you. Don’t get sucked into price matching or discounting, instead focus on creating value for consumers that they can really buy into.

– Keep things simple – the more complicated your business is, the harder it is to grow both from a customer perspective and thinking about staffing.

– Focus on systems and processes. This is one thing I wished we had done from day one. It really helps to drive efficiencies as well as the ability to easily delegate tasks.

RLC: In terms of retail leadership, what are your thoughts in making a winning team and leading a successful business?  

Richard: From a leadership perspective, I strongly believe it is about empowering staff, both with the ability to make decisions and do tasks. I also believe in providing the framework so that those decisions or tasks can be achieved with minimal effort. A leader is only as strong as the people around him. If we can nurture those around us, it provides more time to focus on strategy and the big picture which in turn drives growth.


About Richard Kelsey

richard kelsey

Richard is the Director of Beer Cartel, Australia’s #1 Retailer of Craft Beer. They provide access to over 1000 of the world’s best craft beers through their eCommerce site and Sydney store. He’s also the Director of Brewquets, a beer gifting business designed to help make it much easier to get a great gift for the hard to buy for male in your life.


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