How do you choose the right eCommerce platform for your craft beverage company

Selling merch is a great way to reinforce your brand and promote advocacy, but selling it online seems like such a hassle. Does it really need to be?

Broc GailitSeptember 1, 2019

With 49 of the Top 50 Breweries in the United States selling their branded merch online, it seems like a no brainer that you should too.  Choosing and maintaining an eCommerce platform for your craft brewery doesn't need to be a huge pain in the ass. 

Here's a quick reference of the top platforms in use today:

eCommerce Platform Pros Cons Who's using it?

Shopify

Basic plan starts at $29/month
14 day free trial

  • Easy to get started
  • Simple interface
  • Good selection of well-designed themes
  • Hosting and SSL certificate included
  • Great customer support
  • PCI compliant right out of the box
  • Limited customization available for fully-branded experiences.
  • Low-cost entry leads to high-cost upgrades.  'Advanced' options like reports and shipping rates start at $299/month.
  • B2C focused
  • Limited developer support
  • Premium themes can cost over $150
  • Closed Platform
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Shiner Beer
  • Bell's Brewery, Inc.
  • Oskar Blues
  • SweetWater Brewing Co.
  • Minhas Craft Brewery
  • Harpoon Brewery
  • Alaskan Brewing Co.
  • Troegs Brewing Co.
  • Rhinegeist Brewery
  • Shipyard Brewing Co.
  • Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Narragansett Brewing Co.
  • Flying Dog Brewery
  • Surly Brewing Co.
  • Three Floyds Brewing Co.
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
  • Georgetown Brewing Co.
  • Uinta Brewing Co.
  • Full Sail Brewing Co.
  • Modern Times Beer
  • Lost Coast Brewery

Magento

Free self-hosted options available

  • Backed by a Fortune 500 company (Adobe)
  • Flexible and highly customizable
  • Extensive add-on capabilities
  • Open platform
  • Large developer community
  • Complete control over environments
  • Over 3,600 extensions available
  • Includes built-in B2B features
  • Robust order management
  • Advanced payment and shipping capabilities
  • Extensive promotion capabilities
  • Large feature set is perhaps overkill for many smaller companies
  • Larger learning curve to use
  • Requires a developer to install and fully customize
  • Servers need to be optimized for Magento to perform well
  • Duvel Moortgat
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co.
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Rogue Ales

WooCommerce

Free to get started on WordPress

  • Great option for WordPress users
  • Extensions are available via "Feature Store"
  • Thousands of designs available through WordPress Themes
  • Large developer community
  • Requires WordPress
  • Limited extensions
  • Adding additional extensions can get expensive quick
  • Requires WooCommerce-friendly WordPress themes
  • Self-managed hosting, security, and maintenance
  • Not ideal for large and complex catalogs
  • Tough to scale for large sites
  • Relying on WordPress theme developers can lead to buggy or insecure checkout experiences (not easy to spot)
  • Matt Brewing Co.
  • Odell Brewing Co.
  • August Schell Brewing Co
  • Ninkasi Brewing Co.
  • Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
  • Bear Republic Brewing Co.
  • Left Hand Brewing Co.
Other great choices in use: Nexternal (North Coast Brewing Co., Cigar City Brewing, Ballast Point), Avetti (Deschutes Brewery), BigCommerce (Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.), Foxy.io (Stevens Point Brewery)