AB InBev’s BEES Retail Partner Platform Fueling Digital Transformation

Lisa Johnston
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AB InBev’s BEES platform enables retailers and partners to place orders, schedule deliveries, manage invoices and earn rewards from a mobile app. Editorial credit: monticello /
AB InBev’s BEES platform enables retailers and partners to place orders, schedule deliveries, manage invoices and earn rewards from a mobile app. Editorial credit: monticello /

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s BEES B2B sales platform is powering its digital transformation, with the platform accounting for 80-90% of revenue in some markets and unlocking business-driving insights along the way.

First piloted in the Dominican Republic in 2019 as a test-and-learn for an eventual global expansion, BEES is now live in 13 countries, including the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, China, Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador.

The platform, accessible via a mobile app, provides retailers and AB InBev partners with the ability to place orders, schedule deliveries, manage invoices and earn rewards, as well as access insights and receive personalized product recommendations. It’s also designed to help partners identify sales trends while retailers receive access to exclusive details and locally relevant promotions.

[See also: AB InBev’s Barley Leftovers Unlocking Innovation]

BEES recorded 20 million orders during the third quarter for more than $5.5 billion in gross merchandising value — up 20% from Q2. In addition to reaching 2.1 million monthly active users, it’s demonstrated an accelerated growth trajectory in the past 12 months, AB InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said during an earnings call.

It now makes up more than 90% of revenue in the Dominican Republic and is driving accelerated performance across such metrics as higher net revenue per order (up 33% year over year for the quarter), higher delivery frequency per retailer (up 10%), and more unique SKUs purchased per retailer (up 57%).

“We have seen exciting results since we digitally transformed the market with the platform, unlocking incremental growth for our own business and our customers,” said Doukeris. “The digitization of our relative market enabled us to fully execute our commercial strategy.”

Beyond the Dominican Republic, BEES comprises 70% of the company’s revenue in Mexico, 80% in South Africa and Peru, 85% in Colombia and Brazil, and 90% in Ecuador.

AB InBev, the No. 7 consumer goods company on the CGT Top 100 ranking, reported $14.27 billion in revenue for the third quarter, up 7.9% from the prior year. Though not broken out for the quarter, its direct-to-consumer business has generated more than $1 billion in revenue year-to-date and was described by Doukeris as growing rapidly.

E-commerce, unsurprisingly, was the biggest contributor to the owned DTC business, growing 93% year to date.

“[DTC] is perhaps one of the most important components of our current strategy,” said Doukeris. “We've been seeing meaningful developments in the direct-to-consumer. COVID, as everybody talked about, accelerated a lot of consumer behaviors in this front.”

As part of this, it’s building out its Ze Delivery service in Brazil to now cover more than 50% of the Brazilian population. It’s also expanding the courier platform to 10 new countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.  

[See also: How AB InBev’s Zé Delivery Hit 27 Million Orders in 2020]

In Europe, sales of its Perfect Draft in-home beer draught beer dispenser grew 80% year to date to exceed $100 million in revenue.

“The main mission on our direct-to-consumer is, on one hand, best-in-class consumer-centric experiences, but also gather more data, understand better occasions, and making sure that we are there when consumers need us,” said Doukeris.

Doukeris, who took the helm in July, noted that the digitization of its route-to-market and route-to-consumer — and the subsequent data provided — will help improve the company’s execution capabilities, and thus overall strategy execution by freeing up employee time to focus on higher-value priorities.

In facing today’s cost of goods headwinds, AB InBev will also leverage the insight to better inform its forecasting so it can more effectively adjust its supply chain, as well as better utilize and maximize its revenue management strategy.

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