Beer Nuts Expands Digital Presence with Help from Local Business Owner

Photo: (BNCVB)

Photo: (BNCVB)

By 2025, the e-commerce market will balloon to nearly $88 billion in sales, more than 8X the size of the current e-commerce market. Multi-million dollar snack food manufacturer Beer Nuts is enlisting Kristin Rae, a local business owner, to help establish a strong presence on e-commerce giant Amazon.

Established in 1937, Beer Nuts specializes in the manufacturing of American snack foods with its headquarters in Bloomington. Kristin Rae is an Illinois State University graduate in the fashion merchandising program. She started her business, Inspire International, in 2013, also in Bloomington.

Created in completely different eras, Beer Nuts is hoping to leverage Rae’s digital expertise to bring their e-commerce sales to the next level. Rae’s Inspire International sells its products exclusively on the Amazon Marketplace, while Beer Nuts has been focused on brick-and-mortar retail sales.

“I became connected with Beer Nuts sometime last summer,” Rae said. “I did a project for Amazon and Beer Nuts was one of the attendants at the event. We kind of started talking about what their Amazon situation was. Amazon is new for some brands. I think a lot of brands thought they typically had to compete against Amazon instead of competing on Amazon.”

Beer Nuts aims to expand its digital presence to capture the market share of consumers who shop online. The United States Department of Commerce reported that e-commerce sales grew 16% in 2017 to $453 billion. By 2021, Statista projects e-commerce to capture 15.5% of all global retail sales.

Amazon continues to dominate the e-commerce economy, capturing 70.2% of all e-commerce growth in 2017. The company grabbed 43.5% of all U.S. e-commerce sales in 2017 and Amazon continues to capture more market share. By 2021, 50% of all e-commerce will take place on Amazon.

“If e-commerce is happening, who is going to be leading that, I think is the question,” Rae said.

In addition to selling its products, including the Traveler and Runaway Robe, Inspire International provides consulting for business advocacy, Rae said. Rae is helping Beer Nuts raise its presence on Amazon and retail more of its products both domestically and abroad.

Beer Nuts products have been offered on Amazon for only a brief period and the Amazon Marketplace has seen an uptick in the volume of purchases for food, Rae said. Beer Nuts is aiming to corner this market, increase its inventory on Amazon, and provide a unique product to consumers.

Read More: Bloomington Entrepreneur Kristin Rae Reaches Global Marketplace through Amazon

In order to attract these new first-time Beer Nuts buyers, the company needs to focus on the correct geographic locations and optimize its listings and keywords, Rae said. This is especially important because the algorithm on Amazon tries narrow the number of searches for consumers to reach the products they desire.

According to Bloomberg, 49% of all searches for specific products start on Amazon, rather than specific retailers or Google.

“People sometimes miss keywords,” Rae said. “It’s about staying relevant and using the correct keywords. Beer Nuts has many different food products and yet, someone who is looking for an unsalted raw peanut may not like this specific peanut and that is something you can attach to a pay-per-click (PPC).”

Amazon’s PPC is a kind of advertising based on keywords. A seller can bid on a certain amount of keywords for which they would like to appear.  The seller with the highest bid will appear in the first position in Amazon’s search results and the second-highest will be placed in the second position. The seller will only pay when their ad is clicked.

This mechanism can help Beer Nuts customers quickly find the right products. As an additional benefit, when the consumers find the product quicker they are more apt to purchase the product, increasing the click-to-buy ratio Beer Nuts, Rae said. As a result, the listing for this product will jump to the top of the page when people search the item.

The Amazon Marketplace algorithm is a complex engine running on several different factors including buyer reviews, click-to-buy ratio, PPC, keywords, company history and product velocity such as Amazon Prime.  

In the end, Rae says the Amazon Marketplace boils down to internet marketing, digital marketing and customer service all rolled into one. People search for specific products, but they also want a good seller.

“It’s working with what they have and they have a great brand,” Rae said. “They have been around since the 40’s, so the sustained power of the brand shows people like the product. With retail changing to a more e-commerce marketplace, you are going to find the loyal fans who will continue to buy from you.”

Beer Nuts will continue its combined strategy of selling products at the gift shop, in brick-and-mortar stores and on the digital marketplace. As consumer habits have changed, one local business owner is helping position another local company for a prosperous future.