Coca-Cola is partnering in the United States with Amazon Echo and other smart speakers to attach its beverages to voice-activated orders. “We’re thinking about it as the next platform not only to get on shopping lists but also to build our brands with new and engaging experiences” “It’s all about convenience, making your life easier and getting away from the 90 minutes a week you have to spend in the store,” John Carroll (currently leading Coca-Cola eCommerce business in North America)
The company also is finding ways to drive beverage purchases through restaurant mobile ordering apps.
These are just two of the movements by the veberages company in the framework o a whole e-commerce strategy including as well: popping in the digital shelf; capitalizing on food delivery; profiting from click and collect; and direct delivery from the bottler to the consumer.
“eCommerce is not a channel,” Carroll said. “It’s how people are buying, receiving and experiencing our products. Winning in this ‘route to me’ environment means following the consumer, and pushing ourselves to think very differently. It’s an either-disrupt-or-be-disrupted scenario we see as more of an opportunity than a challenge.”
Kantar Retail estimates that eCommerce today accounts for just 2% of grocery sales in the USA but that number is expected to climb to 8% by 2025. According to iSHOP data, 23% of U.S. shoppers are doing it online each month for groceries.
Coke’s eCommerce strategy entails working with retail and restaurant customers to find ways to increase beverages sales through more buying occasions. It also includes building eCommerce capabilities across the company and its network of bottling partners – from digital marketing to supply chain – in order to grow in today’s technology-driven “omni-shopping” landscape.
An start up I+D approach
The company’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) unit and its innovation partners is a key piece in the journey to driving sales in the digital market.
“We want to leverage eCommerce as an incubation tool,” Carroll said. “We’re determining how eCommerce can build brands online before taking them to the next level. And we can hyper-target our marketing with precision communications.”
Popping up on the digital shelf
The company is applying years of experience in creative point of sale marketing and the same creative rigor online by using high-resolution photos, inspirational copies and targeted marketing to drive clicks.
Capitalizing on food delivery
“We estimate that as little as 10% of all delivery service orders include one of our products, so the opportunity is huge,” Carroll explained. He nsays as well that the company is doing delivery pilots in markets like Philadelphia and Charlotte. “We’re trying to deliver a better to-go food experience for consumers and drive our profits for our customers.”
The project with goPuff, an on-demand convenience store delivery startup catering to college campuses, is very similar to that of delivery service orders in the restaurant field.
The click and collect opportunity, key for Coca-Cola
Shoppers buy online and pick up their grocery orders in stores or at lockers. The click and collect service offers an opportunity to increase sells for Coca-Cola.Tacking on last-minute beverage orders is a key priority, recognizes the company.
Direct sale and delivery from the bottler to consumer
In more than their 100 years history Coca-Cola has never done it but now there’s a pilot project called eFulfillment, where shoppers can order multi-packs of specialty products like TaB, Fresca and Coca-Cola from Mexico and have them shipped directly to their doorstep. Local bottlers pick, pack and ship the orders.
Mobile, mobile and more mobile
Besides the push in sales through the restaurant ordering apps Coca-Cola considers that developing a mobile commerce ecosystem is key, specially in emerging markets.
The tech driver which is most disruptive to The Coca-Cola Company is that of mobile payments: both in eCommerce (future consumption) and in cashless (immediate consumption) transactions.
Javier Polit (chief information officer for The Coca-Cola Company’s Bottling Investments Group) underscores that according to McKinsey, more than 1Bn (1.000 million)people in emerging and developing markets have cell phones but do not have access to, nor can afford to have, bank accounts.
“This year the world will enjoy 2Bn servings of Coca-Cola products daily and consumers will spend $2Bn using mobile payments on their mobile devices daily. We will soon welcome 2 billion additional entrants to the middle class which will exponentially increase mobile transactions. This evolution has dramatic implications for both consumers and businesses”, adds Polit.
He says that Coca-Cola has developed cashless payments business models in several of their markets. Sometimes there have been barriers as banks try to protect their transaction base. But government regulations that were lagging are now favoring mobile payments. “We should embrace this change and see this as an opportunity to continue to shape and influence the market”, Polit concluded.
In the USA and other developed Coca-Cola markets mobile payments are accepted in the vending machines of the veberages multinational.
Image over the headline.- Amazon Echo and other smart voice assistants and Coca-Cola products. © The Coca-Cola Company.
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