AB InBev’s BEES Mobile Ordering Marketplace Explodes

Lisa Johnston
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More than 78 million orders were placed using BEES last year.

BEES continues to be a boon to AB InBev.

First piloted in the Dominican Republic in 2019, the B2B retail sales platform has expanded to 16 markets and is used by 2.5 million Anheuser-Busch InBev customers monthly. The platform, which is accessible via a mobile app, enables retailers and AB InBev partners to place orders, schedule deliveries, manage invoices, and earn rewards.

In addition to providing personalized product recommendations, locally relevant promotions, and exclusive deals, BEES also supplies consumer insights to help partners identify sales trends. It now covers more than 85% of the company’s active customers in Brazil.

Usage is accelerating, said Michel Doukeris, AB InBev CEO, in a call with investors, and it captured about $20 billion in gross merchandising value in 2021, up from $3 billion in 2020.

[See also: AB InBev’s New Brand Identity]

More than 78 million orders were placed using BEES in fiscal 2021 — with total monthly active users more than doubling — and the company will continue expanding it to more countries and customers.

Half of the No. 8 consumer goods company’s digital revenue stems from sales to its retailers, which Doukeris cited as evidence of BEES’s strong performance and ability to provide strong customer experiences.  

“They use BEES because it’s convenient, because empowers them to have better visibility on their business, to have better ways to put their orders in place, and control and learn things about their business,” he noted.

This in turn is also leading to greater efficiencies within AB InBev. AB InBev’s revenue grew 12.1% in the fourth quarter and 15.6% in fiscal year 2021.

“BEES is by far better technology than any other system that we had before,” said Doukeris, who’s been with the company for more than 25 years. “And that’s why the adoption is so fast, and that’s why the usage by customers and by our sales team with BEES force is so big as well.”

DTC Growth Plans

AB InBev’s omnichannel direct-to-consumer initiatives generated more than $1.5 billion in revenue across 20 countries for the year, while e-commerce net revenue grew by 62% with 66 million online transactions.

The company continues to implement marketplaces in a number of areas, and though he didn’t specify, Doukeris said a large number of its customers are already buying in marketplaces. While still in early stages, he said adoption and revenue rates are growing.

[See also: Inside AB InBev’s Test, Learn, Scale Approach to DTC]

Its Zé Delivery service now operates in about 300 cities in Brazil, and AB InBev is deploying it across 10 more countries. Zé Delivery fulfilled 61 million orders in the fourth quarter, which is double 2020.

In Europe, meanwhile, the PerfectDraft in-home beer draught beer dispenser generated more than $170 million in revenue.

And though not a marketplace, AB InBev remains bullish on the opportunities available through repurposing barley and ability to turn customer pain points into growth through technology. This includes building a new production facility for its EverGrain barley ingredients business this year.

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