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Sales & Digital: E-Commerce for All

When COVID-19 shuttered taprooms and bars, the cofounders of a Maryland brewery whipped up a direct-to-consumer beer-sales platform, called Biermi, in record time. Then they gave it away for free.

Kate Bernot Aug 26, 2020 - 13 min read

Sales & Digital: E-Commerce for All Primary Image

Maryland recorded its first known case of COVID-19 on March 5. Reading the news reports coming from Europe and Asia, the team at Derwood, Maryland’s True Respite Brewing knew that massive economic disruptions lay ahead. So, the brewery’s cofounders—Bailey and Brendan O’Leary and Brian O’Connor—put their heads together to brainstorm potential solutions. As a brewery that depended on its taproom for half its revenue, True Respite knew it had to find a way to keep those direct-to-consumer sales flowing.

On March 13, the brewery began offering its beers for curbside pickup, repurposing its Square Web store to handle orders. But O’Connor, with a background in software engineering, believed that he could build a better platform that enabled online ordering, created pick sheets, optimized home-delivery routes, automated customer communication, and facilitated online payments. The next day at 9 a.m., he started coding—and he didn’t stop. His wife delivered food to his desk while he sat in front of a screen for 19 straight hours.

By the afternoon of March 16—when Governor Larry Hogan ordered Maryland bars, restaurants, and breweries to close—the platform that O’Connor had been building was live. He named it Biermi.

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