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Galatea: B2C experience as key to success in wholesale e-commerce

Stockholm in the 1990s. A group of friends share a passion for selling good drinks, but the Swedish market for alcoholic beverages is state-regulated, limiting the choice of high-quality beers, wines and spirits. Driven by the vision to change this, the friends became start-up entrepreneurs and started their own import business in 1997. Successfully so.

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Growing from start-up to successful wholesaler and brewery owner

Today Galatea is Sweden's largest importer of beer from all over the world and Scandinavia's leading wholesaler of alcoholic beverages, including top international brands from over 20 countries. "We research and travel to countries around the world to discover exciting new taste experiences. We go to the source, create friendships, make deals - and then we bring home the very best drinks we can find," explains Ulf Sedlacek, Sales Director at Galatea.

Already in the early founding years, the entrepreneurs wanted to enter the beverage production business themselves. "That's why we invested in some exciting brands like Three Towns Independent Brewers, Arboga Beer and Hannas Cider." This was followed by acquisitions in the booming craft beer and spirits markets and finally, in 2020, the takeover of the wine retailer Domaine Wines. The latter turned Galatea into a full-range wine supplier for the horeca sector and the state-owned company "Systembolaget".

Special strategies for a special market

In fact, the "Systembolagets" are the reason why Galatea is a pure B2B provider - because Sweden is one of the few countries in the world with a state monopoly on alcoholic beverages in retail. This means that the Swedish market is subject to its own laws and that sales to end consumers are only allowed indirectly. The principle is simple: Galatea is one of the monopolist's main suppliers. The more products from the Galatea range sold in the “Systembolaget” stores, the higher the order quantities and thus the sales on the Galatea side. Sounds logical - and explains why it is so important that Galatea, as a B2B company, also keeps an eye on the end customers.

Inspiring content for a perfect B2C customer experience

This is made possible by a new Intershop Commerce-based online presence that addresses B2C and B2B customers alike, while taking into account the specific needs of each customer group. At Galatea.se, consumers find inspiration in the form of extensive information about their favorite drinks (including tips on which flavors and dishes they are best combined with). They are navigated through the extensive product range and, if they intend to buy, are directed with a click to the "Systembolaget" online store where they can order the desired drink. "Köp på Systemet" is what they call it in Swedish.

Ordering made easy for B2B customers

B2B customers also want to be inspired, but even more important to them are convenience, speed and smooth processes. Whereas until recently Galatea handled orders exclusively by phone, e-mail and yes, occasionally by fax, since September 2020 all products can also be ordered online. "For our B2B customers, we have implemented by far the most modern e-commerce platform in the industry. It offers them a range of intelligent, digital functionalities making their daily jobs much easier," says Ulf Sedlacek.

The digital revolution

When it comes to e-commerce, Galatea benefits from the experience, expertise and innovative strength of its parent company Martin & Servera. The company has revolutionized the B2B market for food, beverages and catering supplies in recent years and is committed to creating a personalized, B2C-like shopping experience. After the launch of a new e-commerce platform in 2018, it quickly became clear that Martin & Servera's subsidiaries should also be able to benefit from modern, digital sales processes. The fact that this could be realized so quickly and cost-effectively for Galatea is due to the modern, scalable architecture of the Intershop Commerce Platform. Although the two stores have different brand identities and therefore a different look and feel, the underlying processes and functions are identical. This is hardly surprising, since both stores are managed centrally, thus efficiently, via the same Intershop Commerce Platform.

To find out more about the advantages of this approach and which digitalization strategies have led to project success, read our detailed case study.