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Key features

The online marketplace enables smaller UK brewers to buy and sell pallets of cask ale between themselves.

You get 2 financial benefits – a modest profit on pallets sold (at circa £50 each), and a second profit on incoming guest ales bought at circa £50 and sold at free-trade prices. Add in the deeper relationship with your local pubs because you are a ‘one stop shop’ and the benefits are clear.

We have split the ‘swap’ into 2 steps – a brewer ‘sells’ a pallet to the other party, then ‘buys’ one back to make the balance. Doing it this way means you don’t need to swap at the same time – there can be a delay between the steps. Both steps are recorded online in your trading history, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting. You can also download the history (with beers on each pallet) to a spreadsheet for further local analysis.

Sellers ship the pallet directly to the buyers, using their normal pallet network haulier, so we don’t add any costs by physically operating an intermediate warehouse.

A free ‘flyer’ (brochure) creation tool is included. It taps into our database to give you a quick way to produce simple A4 flyers to send out or email to your local pubs, making it easier to pre-sell guest ales before they arrive. The great feature of this tool is that you can include guest beers you are buying, complete with pump-clip artwork !

Transactions can be planned up to 52 weeks ahead of today, so creating a forward ‘schedule’ of inter-brewery trades. On the sales side, this allows you time to plan your beer production, cask filling and pallet shipment. On the buying side, you will have time to plan your local sales effort, so that as the guest beers arrive they will mostly be ‘pre-sold’ and can go straight out to customers for maximum freshness.

Forget problems with your casks getting ‘stuck’ or lost at the other end – all pallets you send using our marketplace are to be in ECasks under a special agreement we have with them.

Our charges

We make the following charges only :-

  • ECasks fill fee -- £4.50 per fill (Invoiced directly by ECasks to sender). This is a special low rate and reflects the special ‘closed nature’ of beer trades between brewers. See ‘using ECasks’ below for more detail on how this works.
  • There are no transaction fees – we make our margin from a commission paid by ECasks to us.
  • There are no membership charges.

Selling

Add your beers to ‘my beers’ – your own private library (no other brewer sees this)

Only beers you have added to ‘my beers’ can be included in any listing for sale.

  • Go to ‘my account’ tab.
  • Go to ‘My Beers’ tab
  • Click ‘create beer’ button to add a new beer of yours.
  • Note that the pump-clip artwork should be in jpeg or png format.
  • Existing beers can be reviewed and edited from the beer list.

Posting a new listing

  • Go to ‘My Account’ then click ‘sell’ button, OR go to ‘my listings’.
  • Click ‘create listing’
  • Pallet type
    Normally 18 x 9 gallon casks (standard), but you can choose ‘non-standard’ and make up a pallet of any quantity, however such a listing can only be given ‘private’ visibility to your choice of individual brewery.
  • Dispatch Week
    Select the week number during which you plan to ship the beer – this can be altered later to suit you and the buyer before the trade is confirmed.
  • Visibility
    Choose who you wish to be able to see the listing. The usual entry would be ‘open to all’, but, for instance if you only want to sell to regions far from home you can select the relevant region(s). If you only want a particular brewer to see it (maybe you have a deal arranged and just want to make it official), then select ‘private to a selected brewer’ then select them from the list, so that no one else can see it.
  • Beers
    all the beers in ‘my beers’ are shown. Add quantities to the beers as you wish to make up 18 (or less if non-standard pallet). Maximum 8 different beers per pallet.
  • Text
    add anything you want – e.g. ‘Happy to alter shipping date or beer quantities to suit’.

Communicating with potential buyers

Breweries who are interested in your listing(s) can email you by clicking the link, or by finding your contact details in the ‘brewers’ tab. You can then agree any adjustments (date, beers etc). A potential buyer can add the pallet to their ‘watch list’, then maybe finalise with you any detail changes. When happy, they can ‘reserve’ the pallet, which sends you an email.

Reservation

Once reserved, the listing is allocated a ‘trade number’ and will appear in both parties ‘my trades’ area. You can still edit the pallet, but this will send an email to warn the other party you have done this. If you accept the reservation, the trade becomes ‘confirmed’, or you can decline, which ‘un-reserves’ it. Editing is still available, but make sure you agree any changes with the buyer.

When a listing is reserved, you will get an email and you then have 72 hours to either confirm or decline the trade (in ‘my trades’). If you don’t respond in 72 hours, then the trade will automatically cancel and your listing will go back on sale.

Unsold listings

A listing expires if it isn’t sold by the end of the ‘shipping’ week.

Buying

Searching for a suitable purchase

  • Go to ‘My Account’ then click ‘buy’ button, OR go to ‘Browse to Buy’.
  • All live listings are displayed (in date order), or you can filter by Brewery, Region etc.
  • You can also view the listings on a map (click ‘map view’)
  • When you find a listing you are interested in, click to add it to your ‘watch list’. If you wish, you can contact the seller to ask for some adjustments via an email link directly in the listing which gives the seller the correct reference.
  • When you are happy, click to ‘reserve’ the pallet – the listing goes into the ‘reserved’ tab in both parties ‘my trades’ area, and an email is automatically sent to the seller giving them 72 hours to confirm or decline.
  • If confirmed, the listing goes into the ‘confirmed’ tab in ‘my trades’.
  • If the seller makes any changes prior to confirming or declining, you will be notified by email.
  • If the seller declines, you will be advised by email. This could be for a number of reasons, such as the seller has recently sold to another brewery in your area and is keen not to give you a problem with local oversupply. You can contact the brewer direct if you wish to find the reason for decline.
  • If the brewer fails to respond in 72 hours, then the trade automatically cancels and the listing goes back on sale.

Completing the trade (‘my trades’ tab)

  • Trades (buying or selling) are located in either the ‘reserved’, ‘confirmed’ , ‘despatched’ or ‘completed’ tabs, according to their status.
  • When the pallet is ready to be prepared for shipping, the seller can print a delivery note via a button in the trade detail, so the brewery staff know what’s to go on the pallet and who it’s for.
  • When it’s gone, the seller just clicks ‘Confirm despatch’ in the ‘my trades’ area.
  • The buyer then clicks ‘confirm receipt’, and the trade appears in both parties ‘completed trades’ archive.

Arranging a ‘swap’

Easy

  • Contact the brewer you wish to trade with, either –
    • By finding their contact details in the ‘breweries’ tab.
    • OR – via link in current listings if they have a pallet for sale
  • Negotiate your beer and date requirements between yourselves
  • Make / edit any listings to reflect your needs, and make each listing ‘private’ – then click the relevant brewer, so only the other party can see it. Buy each other’s listings as normal.

Shelf life

Fulls should be despatched with a minimum of 5 weeks shelf life remaining, or you may get complaints / bad feedback from other brewers.

Breweries

The contact details and information they uploaded into their ‘profile’ can be seen for all registered breweries in our marketplace.

Invoicing for the beer

All invoicing is done direct from the seller to the buyer at whatever rate they agree (usually £50 per cask)

Ullage

There is an online ullage process for you to log and handle any ullage you have received or sent

  • Buyer has ullage complaint from pub -- recovers cask and credits pub if happy it’s genuine.
  • Buyer raises ‘ullage request’ online (in ‘my account’). Note – note the original trade ID number, as this is needed to complete the request.
  • Add as many details as relevant, and upload photo of label if possible. Click ‘submit’.
  • Email automatically sent to brewer who sold you the pallet.
  • Request is listed in both parties ‘my account’ / ‘ullage requests’ page.
  • The brewer who sold you the pallet can click to ‘accept’.

The ullage request then changes status to ‘accepted’. The seller can then issue a credit note to the buyer or agree a short shipment on a future pallet to compensate. Details to be held locally by both parties.

The supplying brewer has the right to arrange collection of the actual cask(s) for analysis and official destruction / duty reclaim, so the buyer shouldn’t tip the beer without emailing the supplier to ask first.

Your profile

In the ‘my account’ tab, you have space to enter some details about your brewery (e.g. awards won, quality standards held, philosophy) and you can upload a picture (jpeg), all of which are visible to the other users via the ‘breweries’ tab.

Clubbing together with other local brewers to list a mixed pallet.

Easy

  • One brewer will need to act as the ‘lead’ and make the listing, handle the invoicing and paying the other brewer(s) as appropriate.
  • Add each brewer’s beers to ‘my beers’, noting the brewery name as part of the beer name.
  • Create the listing as normal, and add each brewer’s beers – max 8 different beers on the pallet.
  • ECasks – all the ECasks will be invoiced and transacted through the lead brewers account, so best all use ‘refills’, as fresh ECasks from a brewer who isn’t the ‘lead’ won’t be recognised as such.

Feedback

When a ‘buy’ trade is completed, the buyer can leave feedback on the selling brewery (out of 5) - for service level such as ease of communication and presentation of pallet. Also 32 characters of text allowed.

Feedback you have left is NOT shared with the brewer concerned, and is logged in your ‘feedback’ tab for your future reference.

Anonymous feedback log on a brewer can be seen in the ‘breweries’ tab.

Average feedback score for a brewer is displayed in the ‘i’ bubble next to their name in each of their listings.

Cancelling a trade

Either the buyer or the seller can cancel a trade via a button in the ‘my trades’ area.

  • The buyer can cancel up to 1 week before the shipping week. Any later wouldn’t be fair on theseller, as by then the pallet would most likely be in the process of cask filling and pallet preparation.
  • The seller can cancel anytime. This allows for extreme possibilities such as plant breakdown or beer problems at the last minute.

Emails are sent automatically in both cases, but please also contact directly to explain why and minimise disappointment.

Create brochure (pub flyer)

The brochure creation tool is a simple way of producing an A4 single sheet brochure to send out to your local pubs, making it easier to pre-sell guest ales before they arrive.

  • Simply upload your brewery logo and add the contact details of your salesperson (remembered until you change it)
  • Pick a date range the beers will be available to the pubs for (say a fortnight)
  • Add up to 8 beers (the list available will include your own beers from ‘my beers’ and incoming guest ales on confirmed trades you are buying or have just received.
    • Leaving the price box blank for a beer creates ‘call for price’ on the brochure.
  • Add any comments at the bottom – such as ‘first come first served on guest ales’
  • ‘Create brochure’ button
  • You can preview and print off and give out, or download to pdf which you can save and email out to the pubs.

Once created, a brochure is fixed, but can still be accessed.
To create a brochure with 2 pages, just create 2 brochures.

Hints for successful trading

Do

  • Try trading with new users.
  • Trade widely across regions.
  • Recommend the ‘beerswaps’ platform to other brewers.

Don’t

  • Sell to different brewers in the same region without leaving a suitable time gap. This prevents local anguish with different brewers selling your beer against each other.
  • Sell to a region in which you trade directly or where you have a regular supply agreement with a local wholesaler.

Using ECasks

Both the seller and the buyer must

  • Be current ECasks registered customers, and not be ‘on stop’ with them.
  • Agree to follow the sensible principles as to ‘fair use’ as specified by ECasks

Log sheets

Seller should log serial numbers of casks on the special sheet as the pallet is made up.

Collecting empties from the pubs

The brewery receiving the beer should collect the empties from the pub, ready to refill, log and use again.

Reusing ECasks after recovery of empties from the pubs

Use the 'serial number log sheet' to notify us of ECasks palletised ready to send out on another trade.

Getting more ‘fresh’ ECasks in

Order in the normal way from ECasks. It is cheaper for you to use as many ‘refills’ as possible rather than fresh ECasks, as that way you avoid the delivery charges.

The price is just £4.50 per use (invoiced directly by ECask to the seller only) This is a special low rate and reflects the special ‘closed nature’ of beer trades between brewers

Process

  • You confirm sale of pallet to another brewery in Beerswaps online marketplace.
  • Collect up 18 ECasks – either
    • Ones you delivered to the pubs as incoming guest beers through Beerswaps.
    • OR ones you already have directly delivered from ECasks.
  • Fill the ECasks – TIP - print ‘delivery notes’ for each pallet in your forward schedule (button in the ‘my trades’ area) so your brewery staff know what is going out and can fill the correct number of ECasks.
  • Complete the ‘serial number log sheet’ for each outgoing pallet and send to Beerswaps.
  • Palletise and send to the receiving brewer, as normal, using your regular pallet network haulier.

Beerswaps will:
Allocate the serial numbers to your ECasks account, and categorise a) or b)
ECasks will:
Invoice / Credit direct to you
a) Refill Invoice £4.50
Fresh ECask already on site as delivered by ECasks on a recent order (within last 4 weeks) Credit £1.50
Beerswaps will then:
  • Transfer qty 18 to ‘beerswaps’ in the ECask portal (When you have confirmed despatch in the online marketplace).

Questions about using ECasks

Can I use my own casks ?

No – the buyer will be very disappointed, as they were expecting ECasks and you will have to recover your empties from them at significant expense.

I have a few of the buyers own casks in my yard – can I fill them and use them as part of the pallet ?

YES – the buyer will be very happy to get these back. Just make a note on the ECask log sheet that X qty were in buyers own and not in ECasks – you won’t be charged for these.

What if I don’t get all the casks back from the pubs from an incoming guest pallet?

Just as you would if you received other brewer’s casks on an incoming swap, you should do your best to recover any ECasks that you have delivered directly to your pub customers on a Beerswap. If you end up unable to collect them all because some have been uplifted by, say a wholesaler, then you are permitted to make up the shortfall by uplifting a FEW other ECask empties. You are NOT permitted to uplift in bulk, and it must only be to make up casks for your next Beerswap. Please note - you are not charged until you send us the serial numbers for a future delivery, so if thers collect the empties instead of you, if you have done everything that you can to collect, we accept that risk and liability on your behalf.

Do I need to keep recovered empties separate from ‘fresh’ ECasks received in from ECasks ?

YES - because if you mistakenly send them out to a wholesaler, the incoming scan process used at the ECasks depot will log a possible misuse and you may be charged an unauthorised fill fee – something we all want to avoid.

Can I use the serial number log sheet to fill and send recovered empties on a normal wholesale order ?

YES - just send the numbers to ECasks and ask them to add to your account. They will invoice you the full standard fee in the normal way (no delivery charge, of course).

How will Beerswaps know which category the casks fall into for charging ?

As we input the serial numbers to the ECask tracking system, it will tell us the last account they were on. If a number is on your account and it was within the last 4 weeks, then it must be a fresh one you got direct from ECasks. If it wasn’t on your account, then it must be a ‘refill’. This unique information ensures that you are charged the correct fee or given the correct credit.

Will I pay twice for ECasks ?

NO – If you send ‘fresh’ ECasks out on a beerswaps pallet, you get a credit of £1.50. Refills are charged at £4.50.

Where do I get the blank log sheets from ?

You can download from your ‘home’ screen online in our marketplace, or we can email it to you.

How do I fill in the serial numbers ?

Handwritten is fine. Refer to the ‘visual aid’ for help on where to find the serial number and what format it is in.

What about mistakes with logging a serial number ?

All invalid numbers or sheets not sent in are charged as refills, so it’s in your interests to be as accurate as possible.

What if we forget to do the ECask log sheets ?

Repeated failure to send in log sheets invalidates our agreement with ECasks, so we would then have to suspend your account with us and cancel all your forthcoming trades.

Who will update the ECasks ‘portal’ ?

BEERSWAPS As you confirm despatch of a pallet in the ‘online marketplace’, we will do this for you as part of our ‘Beerswaps’ service to you. So, we offer a genuine ‘fill and forget’ service to make your life easier! You will still need to do the portal updates for normal despatches to wholesale, as that is nothing to do with us.

Sending a pallet

Use your choice of pallet network haulier and send direct to the buying brewery. Make sure that the pallet is built up and banded securely. It will weigh about 960Kg, with the pallet. Best to use a EURO style pallet and build 3 layers of 6 casks, with plastic locators between and on top. Band securely in both directions, then shrink-wrap for protection. Stick 2 large address labels (on adjacent sides).

List of major pallet network operators and links.

United Pallet Network (UPN) http://www.u-p-n.co.uk/upn-enquiry-form
Palletways http://www.palletways.com/contact-us/palletways-group/
The Pallet Network (TPN) http://thepalletnetworkltd.co.uk/
Palletforce http://www.palletforce.com/
Palletline https://www.palletline.co.uk/
Pallet Track http://www.pallet-track.co.uk/
Fortec http://www.fortec-distribution.com/contact-us/
Pallex http://www.pallex.co.uk/the-pall-ex-group/
XPO (Norbert Dentressangle) http://uk.xpo.com/Transport/Domestic-Pallet-Distribution-Network?gclid=CJLj9cPOuMoCFSHmwgod1P0JFw

Account Suspension

We reserve the right to suspend the account of any brewer who :-

  • Is in serious financial arrears with Beerswaps.
  • Is in serious financial arrears with ECasks and they ask us to suspend the brewers account
  • Engages in activities likely to damage the integrity of our online marketplace – se section 1 of our ‘terms and conditions’ – available from the bottom of the marketplace homepage.

Suspension of an account is solely at our discretion, and we undertake to make such decisions only in the best interests of the whole marketplace and it’s trading brewers.

We may re-instate an account if we are satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect us and the future integrity of the marketplace for all the other brewers.