Cost-conscious consumers take advantage of instant access to pricing and item availability on their smartphones, often choosing the best bang for their buck over brand loyalty. To win and retain customers, companies are launching significantly more promotions and incentive programs. So how do you measure and analyze the effectiveness of these promotions?

Tweet: 5 ways your BI platform should optimize your distributed sales channel

Distributed sales channels, such as those in the beverage alcohol industry, are more challenging than direct-to-consumer sales models because of the limited visibility suppliers have downstream. As sales models become more complex, the number of data sources that need to be integrated and analyzed exponentially increases. With the right business intelligence (BI) platform, you can overcome these hurdles. Here are five ways your BI platform should help you optimize your distributed sales channel.

Business intelligence platform optimizes distributed sales channel

1. Understand inventory and sales levels throughout every stage of the distributed sales channel

Due to the “three tier system”, product inventory meanders through the distributed sales channel and the supplier can lose visibility. Your BI solution needs robust data integration capabilities to meld data from diverse sources such as your own business systems, transactional data from distributors, and third-party data vendors.

Bottom line: Integration with the right systems gives you 360-degree visibility into your sales channel, enabling you to create sales volume forecasts, production schedules, and promotion plans.

2. Gain visibility into promotions and incentive programs

Without the right BI tool, it’s impossible to track the effectiveness of your promotions throughout all stages of the sales channel. Your BI tool should be able to analyze and track all goals, promotions, and special incentive programs, enabling you to make evidence-based decisions on where to invest future promotional dollars.

Bottom line: Sales reps should be able to identify new accounts and existing account sales opportunities based on current and historic program data.

3. Manage mergers and acquisitions

Like many industries, beverage alcohol has seen massive consolidation at both the supplier and the distributor level. Brand transitions and mergers can pose a huge challenge to your BI solution. If not handled properly, they can result in the loss of important historical data such as shipment volume and timing, sales to accounts/channels, and lost profitability and damaged brand reputation.

Bottom line: Your BI solution must be powerful and flexible enough to manage the nuances in the data.

4. Empower your sales team

A BI platform should provide your sales managers and reps with standard reports on brand performance, account and chain volume and trend, inventories and more. Sales reps also need quick, easy access to assets such as sales presentations, merchandising, and promotional collateral.

Bottom line: A BI solution should be flexible enough to handle all the needs of your sales team.

5. Predict the impact of changes in go-to-market strategy

Marketing and sales team members need real-time insight into business performance to be able to perform “what-if” analysis and to model potential changes to the go-to-market strategy — on case sales, for a particular brand, by channel and by customer. Marketing campaigns, promotional events, pricing, and product launches can be designed to maximize the impact and profitability of new product introductions.

Bottom line: The right BI solution must have powerful ad hoc query capabilities so you can dive into the data and run through various scenarios in face-to-face meetings with stakeholders at all levels of the sales channel.

As industry consolidation continues, brand proliferation increases, and profit margins narrow, competitive advantage will increasingly shift to organizations that have access to timely, actionable intelligence and an integrated view of their business. Learn more about how successful beverage alcohol companies are navigating these market realities.

Editor’s note: This blog post was initially written in January 2013. We have since updated it to ensure accuracy and timeliness.

Alison Nicoli

Alison Nicoli

Ally is a marketing communications manager at Dimensional Insight. She has a bachelor's degree in business management with a concentration in marketing from Merrimack College in North Andover, MA.
Alison Nicoli
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