There is a hive of activity at AB InBev that has retailers, investors and the industry buzzing. It’s BEES, an e-commerce platform that’s transforming the traditional sales model by putting customers at its heart and using technology to turn customer issues into growth opportunities.
At its simplest, BEES is an app where small and medium-sized retailers can browse products, place orders, earn rewards, arrange deliveries, manage invoices, and access business insights all from one place. “BEES solves real problems for small and medium retailers,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Chief B2B Officer at AB InBev. “Every product feature we have has been created with customers at the heart of our decision. BEES has them feeling empowered to not only grow their businesses but thrive.”
BEES was launched at the end of 2019 in the Dominican Republic and became a lifeline for many retailers during COVID-19. Today BEES is one of the largest business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce platforms in the world with 1.5 million active users each month.
More than one million orders are placed each week by retailers in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and the latest additions, China, South Africa, and the US. Our Brazilian brewer, Ambev, reports that BEES is used by 550,000 retailers, about 65% of its customer base. “BEES is leading the way in digital transformation for our clients,” says Jean Jereissati, CEO of Ambev. “With BEES, our clients’ lives become much easier, they can make an order in three clicks, any day, any time.”
The rapid rise in popularity is a credit to the app’s convenience, personalization and unique capabilities. BEES users can place orders at any time and learn what’s selling best in their area. The platform also offers customized ordering recommendations that help optimize customers’ inventory and product selections. Users can also take advantage of flexible delivery, learn about new promotions to increase sales, and even earn rewards on their purchases.
Customers will also be able to order from a marketplace stocked with AB InBev’s products, as well as items like soft drinks, liquor, wine, snacks, personal care and pantry items from different suppliers. BEES is a means for retailers to fully embrace the advantages of digital tech in their businesses, often being their first step away from paper-based recordkeeping and manual inventory management.
"I am not an expert in technology, but it is easy for me to place orders and do everything," says Leonardo Pablo Spaccavento, owner of a retail store in Buenos Aires, Argentina and BEES user.
Another benefit is the change in how sales teams interact with retailers. Transactional conversations about product and deliveries are being replaced by more frequent discussions on customer behavior and data-driven decision-making based on insights gained from BEES. Sales teams are also learning new skills to become experts in the platform and improve their retailers’ performance.
“It’s our business to help retailers better understand their business,” says Ricardo. “BEES has brought AB InBev closer to our customers because our sales teams have evolved into business development advisors who can help retailers see what’s possible for their future.”
Later this year BEES will grow again with a suite of software offerings to create an even more seamless experience for retailers and partners.