Brightside Brewing Company

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What started as an idea in the back room of their bakery in 2009 led to the Friedrich family building a brewery from the ground up. But when times got tough, eCommerce software provided Brightside Brewing Company with the answer – and sales – they needed.

Carley Friedrich wearing a sweater with a 'Brightside Brewing Company' logo on it

In 2009, after being made redundant, Carley Friedrich decided to return to the fold and help out in her family’s bakery business, Charnwood Foods, in Bury, Greater Manchester.

It was during a visit to a local farmers market the same year that the inspiration for a new business venture was found.

‘We’d been running our bakery business for 20-odd years, and my parents were ready for a change,’ says Carley.

‘My dad, Neil, was thinking about different ideas they could try, different businesses they could set up between himself, my mum and my brother, and they came across a man selling microbrewery beer – and that’s where the idea for Brightside Brewing Company came from.

‘At that point, microbreweries weren’t nearly as widespread as they are now,’ Carley explains. ‘There were a handful in our area, but it really was just a handful.’

Carley’s father Neil wasted no time and got to work in a backroom of the family bakery.

Using a home brewing kit to develop a small selection of ales, Neil soon became confident enough with his beer samples to start upscaling the family’s production facility and start pitching their offerings to local pubs.

As sales began to take off, the Friedrichs decided to sell their bakery business to focus on their start-up full-time, building a state-of-the art brewery, with Carley focusing on sales and marketing.

Trouble ahead

Things continued to run smoothly for Brightside Brewing Company until the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, forcing almost all of the businesses the company sold to, to temporarily close.

‘Before then, we just focused on selling to trade and our website was pretty much an online catalogue,’ Carley says. ‘We didn’t really want to have a retail website, and we didn't need to either, because we had a really strong [trade] business and it was growing really well.’

Since adopting eCommerce, we’ve definitely seen a lot of business growth. It’s opened up a whole new side of the business

‘When Covid happened, it meant that we had to pivot really quickly to keep the business going, protect jobs, basically protect the business.’

Carley realised Brightside Brewing Company’s catalogue website was no longer fit for purpose in its current form, having understood their need to quickly start selling directly to the general public. It was decided a consumer-focused website incorporating eCommerce was vital to keep their business afloat.

Affirmative action

With little knowledge of how eCommerce websites worked, ‘chief beer seller and storyteller’ Carley reached out to a local Growth Hub and design company for help in order to get the support she needed.

She explains: ‘We had to find a way to sell our beer over the internet; giving customers the ability to shop, order and pay online. We didn't have a way of taking money from them in person on delivery due to Covid risks. That was exactly what eCommerce software offered.

‘We also had to integrate our existing back-office sales software and our new online sales, there was no other way to blend the two. There were lots of things we had to overcome very quickly.’

Adopting eCommerce software didn’t just provide Brightside Brewing Company with the ability to sell to the public. The process of creating a new sales platform enabled them to improve website customer experience at the same time, through faster page loading times and smoother navigation, as Carley explains.

‘We mainly focused on making the user journey as pleasing as possible. Using eCommerce software has allowed us to add various elements to our online shopfront, including handy little search icons, easy to navigate products and loads more, making it a lot more user-friendly.

‘We still see our website as a work in progress, knowing that eCommerce software will help us to add useful elements, as and when we need to, really easily.’

Getting to grips with the eCommerce software wasn’t as difficult as initially thought and, for Carley and her team, the benefits have already started to show.

The future’s bright

‘Since adopting eCommerce, we’ve definitely seen a lot of business growth,’ she says. ‘It’s opened up a whole new side of the business.

‘eCommerce has been a complete game changer for us, it’s given us scope to have a proper retail side of the business we never imagined we’d need.’

Recognising changes in consumer habits and how eCommerce software can help, Carley continues: ‘People are so used to being able to go online now and order what they want then have it delivered. It's become a way of life.

‘We can now have people ordering online at 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock at night and choose to have it delivered when it suits them. We couldn’t do that without eCommerce.’

There are so many benefits to having a shop online, so my advice to anybody with the right product would be to go for it

‘To grow your retail business, you can’t do it without eCommerce full stop.’

Going forward, Carley is quietly confident Brightside Brewing Company will continue to go from strength to strength, thanks to what eCommerce software has helped her family business to achieve.

‘Without adopting eCommerce software, reaching new customers outside of our area was never going to happen. It’s helped us make the decision to go national and to go bigger, expanding our business through retail and that’s a great thing.

‘There are so many benefits to having a shop online, so my advice to anybody with the right product would be to go for it - eCommerce is a gamechanger.’

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