A Moment with Marcus Grant, the Creator of Shanghai9
Shanghai9 is a full range alcohol delivery service that caters to those in China who want the best sent right to their doorstep. Check them out at www.shanghai9.net to browse their impressive selection of beer, single malt whiskey, wine, and other spirits. In the meantime, Shanghai9 mastermind Marcus Grant sat down with Hops to talk about starting up a business, his ultimate goals, and what he really thinks about beer connoisseurs in China.
What inspired you to start Shanghai9?
I was disappointed in the limited availability and high prices of good beer and single malt whiskey in China. So I started looking into creating a website to offer a wide range of reasonably priced products with the added convenience of delivery.
How did Shanghai9 get its start?
The website launched in early 2010 to fill in the market for high end beer and spirits, although supermarkets like Carrefour and City Shop now carry a better range than they did then. The options are still next to nothing in your local supermarket or convenience store, though.
What has it been like doing business in China?
China provides a lot of opportunities for business, but one of the frustrating things is a lack of consistent supply of products from importers. We see Shanghai9 as selling a service, not just a product. Teaching our delivery guys the importance of delivering goods on time and friendly attitudes has been an important focus for us.
What unique beer do you offer?
We have four beers from Samuel Smith, an independent brewery in Tadcaster, England – Organic Lager, Old Brewery Pale Ale, Imperial Stout, and Oatmeal Stout. They use traditional methods of brewing and still use water from the original well, eighty-five feet underground, at the Old Brewery.
What is your best selling beer?
The better known beers are still the best sellers, like Corona and Hoegaarden. However, there are more connoisseurs out there interested in things like our Belgian Beer 9 Pack (one bottle each of Delirium Tremens, Westmalle Tripel, Chimay Blue, Tripel Karmeliet, Kasteelbier Bruin, Orval Trappist Ale, Rochefort 8, Maredsous 8 Bruin, and Bush Amber).
What is your favorite beer that you sell?
Wow, it’s hard to pick just one! I’m a big fan of Westmalle Tripel, which is brewed by the Trappist monks of Westmalle, just north of Antwerp. Delirum Tremens, which is a spiced 9% ABV Belgian pale ale, is another favorite. But on a hot Shanghai day, nothing beats an Ayinger Brau-Weisse, which is a German “white beer,” brewed in Aying, Bavaria, about twenty-five kilometers from Munich.
Who is your biggest market for delivering imported beer?
Our current focus is foreigners here in Shanghai, as they’re the most open to trying new beers and usually have a basic knowledge about them already. However, more and more Chinese are contacting us wanting to buy an imported beer they tried at a bar or restaurant. Later this year, we’re planning to launch a Chinese language version of the website, which will make good beer more accessible to the local Chinese people.
What do you think of the beer market in China?
Well, it’s certainly growing! I think Shanghai has some catching up to do compared to Beijing, but different brewers are popping up and consumers are becoming more sophisticated and educated, which is necessary to develop the market here. We plan to start doing tastings later this year, which should increase interest in some of the more unique and lesser known beers. Also, places like KaiBa, local brewers like the Boxing Cat and Shanghai Brewery, and the new beer store Cheers-In are also doing good things for the beer scene.
Article by: by Andrea Scarlatelli