Today’s digital world is fast-tracking the use of advanced technology to drive efficiency in nearly every industry –and alcohol beverage is no different.
In fact, it’s clear that advanced and innovative technology has become more of a requirement rather than a nice-to-have for many businesses, including the alcohol supply chain.
The industry is huge. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals the average spending on alcohol across all households in the U.S. is 1 percent of one's yearly income. In 2020 alone, the U.S. e-commerce sales approached $5.6 billion, up from roughly $3 billion the previous year thanks to a surge in online sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with such rosy figures, alcohol businesses typically operate on very high margins. This means you need to take advantage of innovative technologies to keep costs down and stay ahead of the competition.
Three Technology Trends in the Alcohol Industry
Technology built for businesses in the alcohol industry can provide insights and efficiencies that can help you maximize your revenue. Whether you have already tapped into tech, are considering it, or are looking to learn, here’s what you need to know about today's industry technology trends and how they can impact your alcohol business.
1. Electronic Payments
Wouldn’t it be nice to have your payment transactions automated? Manual payment processes take up time, money, and run risks against theft and noncompliance. Now, you can pay online and leverage Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for all of your B2B alcohol payments, ensuring a smooth and seamless process.
Currently, several businesses in the alcohol supply chain are leveraging an EFT network for their B2B payment processes. EFT payments offer the following benefits:
- Saves time: EFTs are faster than conventional payment methods. And can save as much as 15 minutes per delivery as opposed to writing and signing physical checks.
- More compliant: Staying compliant with federal, state and local regulations is a must in the alcohol industry. EFT payments are not only faster, but their automated systems also help you stay compliant with alcohol payment terms without manual work.
- More secure: All EFT transactions are processed through secure, foolproof systems that minimize the risk of theft.
A Guide to Simpler, Smarter Alcohol Payments
Download our ebook and learn how you can simplify your payment processes and stay compliant with an automated B2B payment solution.
2. New Data & Insights
If you have been in the alcohol business for a while, you know too well the value of data –of your brand, your sales and your customers. Thanks to innovative technologies, you can now take advantage of this data to understand your consumers and see how you stack up in the industry.
As a retailer, or bar or restaurant owner, you can create more tailored experiences, and as a supplier or distributor, you can craft better sales stories.
Here are a few ways alcohol businesses are currently utilizing data available to them:
Tracking customer acquisition and retention
For your business to grow, you must keep existing customers, even as you add new ones. You can use your point of sale (POS) data to provide any valuable insights. Track the exact number of customers you gained or lost throughout a given period and the percentage of sales gained or lost from new, existing, or lost customers.
Tracking brand loyalty
Brand loyalty is an integral part of a successful business. And those with a solid customer base are in a greater position to weather uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customer data helps companies understand their brand reach and customer loyalty, and see places for improvement. With the right data and insights, you can see how your brand is selling and performing against the competition. Get data and see trends by location, type, and more.
Understanding purchase cycles
Whether you’re a retailer, bar or restaurant owner, or a supplier or distributor, knowing your customers’ purchasing trends is crucial when developing a sales, marketing and promotional strategy for a given alcohol product.
Available data on customer purchase cycles provides insight into customer behavior. With such tracking information, you can provide timely stock, promotions, and marketing.
3. Online Ordering
According to Sana Commerce’s recently published B2B Buyer research report, “suppliers, wholesalers and manufacturers are not meeting their customers’ growing demand for buying online.” In fact, while 30% of professional buyers would prefer to buy at least 90% of their products online, only 19% are doing so.
This demand for e-commerce was also evident in previous research, which found that among the B2B businesses who don’t currently have an online store, as many as 75% have had customers explicitly ask for it.
Online ordering is a benefit, not a substitution, to your supplier relationships and 24/7 platform. Key benefits provide:
- An ordering process that's available and convenient
- More efficient order and invoice management
- Easily track historical orders
- The ability to use past orders as a template to reorder
- Seamless integration of order processing into other systems –like invoices, inventory and authorized product lists
- Simplify ordering from tens or hundreds of distributors
This information from your customers’ online orders should be able to show you trends so you can make necessary decisions when buying inventory, scheduling promos, etc.
You can streamline your B2B payments and pay your vendors online with Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) (see trend #1 above).
How iControl Can Help You
Between dealing with countless transactions, tracking inventory, handling vendors, suppliers, distributors, and customers, and staying compliant with alcohol regulations, there’s a lot to manage in the alcohol supply chain.
Luckily, with the right technology and processes, you can ensure a streamlined flow of data from inventory and production through to sales and accounting –saving you upwards of 20 hours a month on your data and payment reconciliation process.
Automating your manual processes leads to higher efficiency, excellent employee productivity, and an improved bottom line for your alcohol business.
In today’s digital age, those who are integrating automation and new technologies into their operations are getting ahead quicker. If you are looking for a reliable partner to help automate your operations or are looking to learn more about how you can use these technology trends to improve your business, contact us today.