Shanken News Daily — December 17, 2020
Wine and spirits distribution giant Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) and partner LibDib have unveiled an ambitious new effort to harness data analytics across their footprint, with the goal of driving accelerated growth for their own business and those of their suppliers and customers. The initiative includes the opening of a new joint data and analytics lab that’s developing algorithms intended to offer enhanced insights to suppliers, sales teams, and customers as a wave of digital transformation continues to gain speed across the drinks business.
“Our primary mission is to position ourselves and our partners—whether suppliers or customers—to grow disproportionately to the rest of the industry,” says RNDC president and CEO Tom Cole. “RNDC and LibDib have prioritized innovation and value-added technology at every opportunity and today’s announcement takes wholesale digital commerce to the next level.”
“Along with our digital transformation have come all these data points that we’ve never had before,” explains Tracy Ariail, RNDC’s senior vice president of e-commerce and digital. “It’s all about how we connect these data points and ensure that we’re pulling in the insights to challenge what we’re currently doing and address everyday ways of doing business. The market is changing fast, and the traditional means of collecting and distributing data won’t allow our partners to respond fast enough.”
The new joint analytics lab will devise algorithms to not only measure performance but also take into account how sales reps and customers interact, examine what drives decision-making, and make sure reps are targeting the right accounts with the right products at the right time. LibDib’s Richard Brashears is overseeing the lab as vice president of data and analytics. “We can provide a hyper-personalized experience for each buyer,” he tells SND. “Using data is a great way to tailor the experience in terms of introducing new products, and making sure they’re aware of different offerings at different times of the year.” On the supplier side, the analytics lab will help focus and drive supplier messaging through the marketplace, Ariail adds.
The launch of the analytics lab comes as the company’s eRNDC digital commerce platform continues to roll out across the U.S. It’s currently active in 12 RNDC markets, with the remainder expected to come online in the first half of next year. LibDib’s presence has now expanded to include California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, and Wisconsin. “We’re looking to leverage hyper-personalization and targeting for the distribution channel with advanced algorithms, and the value of this partnership is giving Rich and his team the opportunity to define and build that structure,” says Ariail.
Meanwhile, with all eyes currently on how the holiday season will shake out for the drinks business, Cole noted that he’s seen some slowing recently, even in previously top-performing categories like 3-liter boxed wines. “There hasn’t been a stimulus package in a number of months,” he notes. “The House and Senate are struggling to get that done and have promised not to recess until they do. They’re saying the right things, and that’s a positive sign. But people are changing their behavior. We’re not seeing the pantry loading. This will be a telltale week for how December will go, because it’s the week retailers start stocking for the holidays, but to this point we’ve seen a significant slowdown.”