Consumers hoping to locate their favorite craft beers have a new tool courtesy of World Class Beer (WCB), an association of craft and specialty beer minded distributors.
WCB last week announced the release of its “Craft Beer Locator” app, which is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices and boasts location information for 100,000 on- and off-premise locations across 27 states.
By tapping the vast network of WCB’s beer distributors and accessing data from their sales histories, the free app provides consumers a constantly updated database of available products. It also provides detailed style information and images of over 7,500 beer brands currently sold throughout the WCB network.
The association’s web developer, Bob Mack, explained why a network of beer distributors would embark on a project costing upwards of $100,000.
“As a distributor, our best opportunity with the consumer is to be transparent,” he said. “Historically, beer distributors have not communicated directly at consumers. But at the end of the day, for us as a distributor to be a viable business, we need to give consumers the beers that they want to buy. The app gives us the chance to do that.”
It’s not the first time a distributor network has used technology as a means of interacting directly with consumers. In 2009, L. Knife & Son Companies — which owns and operates 18 wholesalers in 13 states — released its own app, BeerCloud, through the online social media interface GreatBrewers.com.
However, Craft Beer Locator lacks a comprehensive database of all craft beers available to consumers. Because the app only pulls data from breweries that WCB wholesalers represent, only about 800 of the country’s 2,336 breweries are included, said Mack. That’s why WCB is hoping that the app will evolve into something more complete and would even consider partnerships with L. Knife & Son or popular consumer-oriented beer sites like beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com.
“We think our greatest benefit, as distributors, is to share information with consumers,” Mack said. “A common interface is probably a few years away but philosophically we are not opposed to collaboration.”
For now, Mack said WCB wholesale partners will begin distributing business cards and signs to retailers in an effort to help promote the app’s release. The banners will feature a QR code that will take consumers directly to the iTunes App Store when scanned. He also said WCB plans to invest an additional $20,000 to develop an Android app, scheduled to be released later this year.