In 2011, one of the world’s leading energy drink manufacturers wanted to boost its understanding of everything from the sales of its beverages to the in-store environments in which its products were sold – right down to the temperature of the coolers in the stores. Going to an even deeper level, the company also wanted enhanced tracking on retailer performance in its incentive programs.
This drink giant had already attempted to collect information from distributors internally, but realized that the various disparate data sources sometimes resulted in inaccuracies within its sales measurement system. Additionally, the manufacturer had developed or acquired many self-owned distribution sites that operated very differently from the independent distributors that sold its product.
There was only one way to quench its thirst for such detailed knowledge -- the manufacturer turned to the Information Management Solutions (IMS) division at MSA.
The depth and breadth of information needed required that we develop a data-reporting format that was very detailed, yet simple enough to encourage distributor compliance and participation in the program. Our IMS team worked closely with the distribution operating-system vendors to speed software development and allow for a quick start to distributor reporting/participation. For the few distributors that were unable to provide data based on the reporting structure, we developed a web-based reporting portal. This allowed for an even higher level of distributor reporting compliance than would have been achieved under the usual reporting methods.
Critical to the success of this program was our understanding of the four-tier distribution system for this beverage. In many cases, the drink manufacturer shipped to a master distributor that sold the product to secondary distributors, who, in turn, sold the product to retail outlets or provided it to bars/restaurants for on-premise consumption. Since the beverage is often used as a mixer with alcoholic spirits, tracking on-premise consumption is very important.
Our system measures the entire distribution channel for this client. The system records manufacturer shipments to distributors; all distributor shipments, including those from distributor to distributor (transshipments); and distributor to retail. Also captured are measures of the distributors’ cash-and-carry sales and inventory levels. Through the integration of TDLInx® data, the specific retail attributes, including both on- and off-premise outlets, are integrated for a full understanding of the retail location.
As if this were not enough, our system provides this data at the most granular (transaction) level and reports the information on a daily basis. The information is collected from nearly all U.S. distributors, which report their data to us by midnight of each day. We process and cleanse the data for afternoon delivery to the client, via a feed. Additionally, we also provide a web-based reporting/analytical tool for easy access to this information.
The afternoon delivery of this daily data feeds our client’s new global operating system, and, due to our efforts, the United States has become the first country to feed this information accurately and with the depth of measurements requested by this world-wide corporation. Our system will set the standard for the collection of data across all other countries.