Merchandising, marketing and loyalty alignment a step closer for Liquor Barons

WA liquor retail cooperative shares why it's investing in a new promotional planning tool and its steps to build a more proactive, data-driven customer engagement approach

Bringing merchandising, loyalty and marketing strategies and insights ever-closer together to improve customer service is the name of the game for West Australia’s Liquor Barons liquor retailer as it brings on a fresh promotional planning platform.

Liquor Barons is a WA-only retail co-operative with 80 liquor stores split into two brands: Liquor Barons (64 branded stores); and Bucks Off. The business has signed an agreement with Complexica for its Promotional Campaign Manager (PCM) product to help automate and streamline promotional planning and supplier portal functionality. Project scoping commences in January through to March and the intention is to go live with the platform from mid-2021.

Liquor Barons marketing manager, Richard Verney, told CMO the business has an ethos of being proactive around delivering better customer experience and service. It’s this drive that’s seen the group build out a premier liquor customer loyalty program as well as invest in its consumer marketing capabilities in the last couple of years.

The Complexica platform is replacing a laborious spreadsheet-based process and will result in digitised documentation for promotion planning, range management and supplier portal access. This, in turn, will lift Liquor Barons’ key marketing processes while saving at least one full-time employee’s time each year, Verney said. It’ll also help remove errors from the manual process, which has historically involved different people entering, printing out and re-entering data.

“We were aware we had these systems in play, but they have not been talking to each other,” he said. “We have done a lot of work on the marketing side to support our loyalty piece, connecting our email system with our transaction data, for example.

“But this strikes us as the most basic way that we are dealing with something that could be automated. It seemed like the biggest opportunity to develop a more automated approach and deliver efficiencies.”

Alongside employee time savings, Verney said having the promotional planning platform in place will allow Liquor Barons to analyse promotional effectiveness and give the business a more effective, useful tool for reporting – something that has been hindered by traditional manual processes.

Verney said it chose to work with Complexica after assessing the market to see what options were out there versus attempting to build in-house. The vendor’s previous experience with similar Australian liquor retailers, buying groups and suppliers such as ALM and Metcash brought with category knowledge vital to streamlining adoption and ensuring the resulting solution met Liquor Barons’ niche and nuanced requirements.

Building data and tech-driven marketing and loyalty capability

Liquor Barons has been on a journey over the last five years to lift its data-driven marketing engagement off the back of its loyalty program. The work saw it transition from Mailchimp to Impact Data, a Melbourne-based email marketing provider focused on the liquor category.

Alongside this, the group amalgamates its cash register data with loyalty data with company, Zen, and has worked over the last two years to move communications including email and SMS /push notifications and reporting into one repository, gaining again more ability to analyse and act on data.

Verney said within six months of the shift from batch-and-blast emailing to segment-based communications, the retailer had increased its customer base by 25,000 to 110,000 members. It’s now actively building defined customer cohorts that drive marketing and loyalty communications and analysing impact of its initiatives.  

“We have a more powerful ability to analyse data, segments, create user journeys and can send multiple emails based on customer actions,” he explained. “We’ve done this in line with relaunching our loyalty club, which was renamed Barons Locals, in September last year.”

Verney said the loyalty club remains a major emphasis for the marketing team this year.

“We view Complexica as more on the merchandising side of our function. However, I think in time, the two will come together much more closely, and we’ll be able to analyse the two levels of data,” Verney continued. “We’re now much more able to segment all our audiences, put in personas and this type of thing through our loyalty data set-up.

“That will help us when we get into some of the things Complexica will enable us to do – understanding what segments are shopping in which stores and get to a point where we’re putting the correct offer into the correct store, segmenting the stores as well as the database. There are lots of exciting journeys from here we feel we’ll be able to go on, both in terms of marketing as well as getting the right offers into the right stores.

“We view this as merchandising tech and then marketing tech, but we’re getting closer to them being 100 per cent aligned.”

The business imperative sitting across all of this is the tenet to be and support local. In this vein, Liquor Barons just executed an advertising campaign across out-of-home and digital highlighting its local owned and operated credentials to consumers using various local characters.

“That’s the other big focus this year - to concentrate on those credentials and being a local business putting back into local community,” Verney added.

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