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CASE STUDY Belgian beer making monks Saint-Sixtus Abbey turn to mobile payments for pioneering click and collect service

Here for the beer: Saint-Sixtus Abbey is winning at ecommerce (Image: Saint-Sixtus Abbey/Ingenico)

Here for the beer: Saint-Sixtus Abbey is winning at ecommerce (Image: Saint-Sixtus Abbey/Ingenico)

Saint-Sixtus Abbey, brewers of the Trappist Westvleteren, has moved increasingly to selling direct to consumers and has, during the pandemic, trialled new payment tools and click and collect with great success. Here is how they did it.

The monks of the Saint-Sixtus Abbey began brewing beer alongside their monastic activities in 1839, to become more self-supportive. All beers carry the label of “Authentic Trappist Product”, which means it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the control of the community of monks. The production is limited and is the only source of income to cover their annual costs, sponsorships of charitable initiatives, and social projects.

Interest in Trappist Westvleteren remained modest until 2005, when a user-driven ranking website for craft beer enthusiasts named it as the best beer in the world. It has since been awarded the title four more times and was named as one of the top beers in the world for taste, putting it on the map for international beer lovers.

However, due to a combination of this growing demand and its limited stock, the Abbey faced a number of issues with customers stockpiling products and selling them on for much higher prices.

To put an end to bulk buying and reselling, in 2019, the Abbey began working with Ingenico to create an online payment solution which could better control incoming orders and offer international beer lovers the opportunity to buy the beer.

Ingenico worked with the Abbey to establish a novel click and collect system with the ability to accept international payments over a very limited sales period. The payment solution is simple and secure, with an intuitive interface which can scale and keep customer data secure.

It provides a fluid experience, with intuitive and mobile-first payment pages, a stable platform with no downtime, and a sophisticated fraud detection module which sets sales limits and blocks transactions as necessary. This has thwarted a number of fraud attempts against the monastery and greatly reduced black market reselling of the beer.

Jos Vermeulen, Adviser to the Project Steering Group, explains: “For our payment system, we were looking for an international partner who also had a solid fraud detection module. The ordering process is twice a month and it’s open for a period of about two and a half hours. We don’t ship at all, and that’s what’s so amazing. We sell the beer online, but people must come and collect it.

At the start we were concerned about the capability of the website to withstand the number of visitors. But the first payments that we received went through without any problems.”

Benoit Boudier, Managing Director, SMB Online Europe at Ingenico, adds: “We are extremely proud to be partnering with Westvleteren Abbey. It had a bespoke need as a growing business with its own peak sales times – the payments service the Abbey provides to its customers is integral to the growth and security of the business. 

“So, we stepped in to provide a robust payments solution that supported the business’s growth while ensuring availability during times of greater demand. We’re delighted to have enabled it to continue to serve its customers via a click and collect system, while providing the fraud protection it needs.” 

Ingenico works closely with businesses of all sizes to offer payments solutions and international payment capabilities that provide the opportunity to grow based on unique goals and needs.

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