Quebec grocer gets in on beer delivery service

Bière sans limite delivers some 30 brands of beer to greater Quebec City homes

A partnership between independent grocer Marché Pie-XII and web-based business, Bière sans limite ( launched mid-March, offering same-day delivery of some 30 brands of beer to homes across greater Quebec City.

"Customer response has been very good so far," said startup co-founder Jimmy St-Pierre. He notably built the company's website and app, which is available for both Android and iPhones. "We have been getting orders every day, and the numbers of calls is increasing."

According to St-Pierre, most calls come from people who live on the upper floors of apartment buildings, who don't have cars or who have mobility issues.

All transactions are completed through the website. The delivery fee is $3 for a 12 pack of beer, and $4 for a case of 24 and are made between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week. The store gets free publicity and a cut on beer sales. Delivery drivers swing by the store to fill orders with beer from the store's back room.

The company recommends that customers tip the delivery driver (including St-Pierre and partner Jean-François Rioux) with empty beer bottles or cans. "A case or two of empties adds up pretty quickly to be a nice tip," said St-Pierre.

He said that he and Rioux decided to launch the business based on the results of a web survey they commissioned earlier this year to gauge the potential of a beer delivery service in the Quebec City region.

He said that of the 200 people surveyed, 86% stated that they drank beer "at least occasionally." More tellingly, one-third reported that they would be willing to pay to have suds delivered to their homes.

"We realized there was an opportunity," said St-Pierre. "All we needed was a retail partner with an alcohol license who could supply the beer."

Maxime Bélanger is general manager of Marché Pie-XII, a butcher shop and grocery store that his grandfather founded in 1954 in the blue-collar neighbourhood of Beauport in Quebec City's east end.

"They approached me with their concept, and right away I thought it was a great idea," Bélanger told Canadian Grocer. "Online sales are becoming huge, and (St-Pierre and Rioux) take care of all of the costs and administration, so it doesn't cost me anything."

He said the online service also ties in well with his store's "aggressive pricing" on beer.

"The prices are a bit cheaper on the website, because of the delivery charge," said Bélanger. "But what's interesting is that the website is generating traffic in my store from people who are coming in to buy beer and save on delivery. So it's a win-win for me."

He added that his new partners are already talking about expanding the service to include beer-connected food items.

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