Coca-Cola-CIO Brings Digitalization to the Beverage Trade

The beverage trade is highly fragmented and “non-digital” – a perfect target for disruption, platforms and new technologies. Christian Rasche, CIO of Coca-Cola European Partners, wants to be digital first.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), as the concessionaire of The Coca-Cola Company in Germany, sells their beverages to the intermediate trade, who in turn sells them to retailers and over 300,000 restaurants and thousands of suppliers. This trade is a highly fragmented, non-transparent market in which almost everything has been analogue until now and which is being mixed up with digital delivery services such as Rewe Online and Durstexpress. The latter use digital channels and data analyzes to activate their customers very precisely, communicate the right product to them and thus sell more.

With its 7,500 employees, Germany’s largest beverage company fills more than 80 non-alcoholic beverages at 16 production locations. Market leadership that can only be maintained if your own value chain is digitized as a whole. It was clear to CIO Christian Rasche and his team that “we have to approach this transformation step by step and fill the ‘gaps’ with data-driven and functioning platforms before we come to the end-to-end digital solution.”

One of these gaps is to be filled by Kollex, a digital mediation platform between beverage retailers and restaurateurs. The special thing about their development is that CCEP founded a startup with Krombacher, Bitburger and Rotkäppchen-Mumm. The largely analog orders are to be digitized and all parties involved are to be supplied with relevant data.

“The Innovation Award goes to Christian Rasche for his pioneering strategy for the vertical digitization of the value chain in the beverage industry. The CIO treads new, courageous ways of working with partners, acts as a business enabler and proves that IT organizations can be key drivers of innovation . ”

Via a second platform (POGO = Platform for Outlet Growth Optimization), CCEP evaluates publicly available information about products, locations and target groups so that sales can give retailers better recommendations for their range planning. Which drinks are in demand also depends on the location. A bakery in the hardware store has a different demand to serve than the branch next to the yoga studio.

The purchasing behavior of end customers can be analyzed with another digital product. “Spotlight” evaluates the sales data from POS systems, which makes it easier to explain fluctuations in demand. In the corona crisis in particular, it was possible to react faster to consumption, which changes almost daily.

Analysis and real-time data are becoming more and more important, says Rasche. With POGO the sales consultant knows which company he is dealing with, with Spotlight he gets reliable information on actual consumer behavior. The IT boss is satisfied with what has been achieved and can rely on the full support of his Group CIO Peter Brickley in London.

“My team has internalized the Be-Digital-First-Mindset deeply,” he notes and names the central components of his recipe for success: “We always act as a startup – learn fast, fail fast – in a two-speed IT and in cooperation with strong partners. ” You can also quickly find inspiration outside your own industry. He encourages his employees to be unconventional and risk-taking and to ignore silos. It is important that everyone knows: nothing has to be perfect!

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