AB InBev increases ecommerce activity

Australian acquisition follows similar purchases in Colombia and UK

ZX Ventures, the disruption arm of AB InBev, has bought Australian drinks retailer BoozeBud for an undisclosed sum. An announcement today on the website of Australian subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries emphasised the improvement in customer experience which is the driving force behind the move: a push to make online beer shopping easier and more attractive.

AB InBev has invested in a number of projects around the world which focus on the “last mile” of food and beverage delivery. In 2016 it bought UK retailer Beer Hawk, followed by Master of Malt earlier this year, while ZX Ventures also holds a stake in Colombian food and drinks ecommerce site Rappi. The “Bud Light Button” app, which has been trialled in the US and a number of Latin American countries, promises near-instant delivery of the titular beer.

In a 2015 interview, AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito set out the goals of this strategy:

People, homes and venues are now connected all the time. This allows us to dream about using real time data to fill our fridges before we even realize that they are running low on Budweiser.

As well as retailers, the company has partial ownership of beer data firms RateBeer and WeissBeerger. For the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Budweiser television advertisement featured beer being delivered to stadium spectators by drone. Recent activities suggest that this may be more of an ambition than a fantasy.

The company has been on something of a buying spree in Australia of late, acquiring previously independent breweries 4 Pines and Pirate Life. Via Carlton & United it already controls almost 50% of the Australian beer market.