Southern Glazer’s Puts AI In the Hands of Its Field Teams

Lisa Johnston
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Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is equipping its field sales teams with new technology so they can spend more time with customers and less time checking product positioning. 

The alcohol beverage distributor will leverage image-recognition technology from FORM to provide product insights for suppliers, leadership stakeholders, and commercial teams. The computer vision artificial intelligence can reportedly detect, recognize, and analyze data from the field teams’ product and menu photos to provide market intelligence in near real-time.

It’s intended to give off-premise field teams the ability to evaluate positioning and pricing for wine and spirits products in coolers, cold vaults, shelves, end caps, and floor displays in applicable accounts. The on-premise teams, meanwhile, can use an app to collect data about product placement on back bars and menus. 

Rahul Sathe, senior VP, commercial effectiveness at Southern Glazer’s, told CGT that the investment will be particularly beneficial to help collect valuable intelligence with AI, as well as through building optimal sales activities with integrated task management. 

“By using this technology to streamline the repeatable, simple aspects of account visits, we’re giving our teams more time to innovate and advise our customers on what consumers are looking for,” he noted. 

The technology will be integrated into Southern Glazer’s Proof Sales CRM application so that field teams can leverage the app’s market intelligence to improve product positioning in retail stores, restaurants, and bars on the spot. 

Launched in 2019, Southern Glazer’s Proof B2B e-commerce platform provides the distributors’ customers with 24/7 online ordering and account management. They can also place oders, search the portfolio, and discover new products, while suppliers are offered a spot to showcase their products.

Digitizing REX

Artificial intelligence and having real-time access to data are playing increasingly critical roles in successful retail execution strategies, according to Cheryl Perkins, president and CEO of business consultancy Innovationedge and former chief innovation officer of Kimberly-Clark. 

“CG companies need to remain nimble and look for opportunities to improve the coordination and execution of their field teams by automating tasks and integrating AI to improve efficiency,” she noted to CGT recently. “Integrating the right software and technology solutions is the key to improving performance metrics, maximizing sales, and remaining competitive.” 

Indeed, Southern Glazer’s joins a host of other consumer goods companies investing in the digitization of their sales force. Mondelez International chief sales and marketing officer Martin Renaud said last month that more than 1 million stores have access to its automated intelligence-enabled “suggested other” function, which has freed up reps to engage 45% of more time in robust selling vs. administrative tasks, in turn increasing from 3-5% more revenue per sales goal.

The company has also developed a proprietary tool measuring the quality of point-of-sale materials that has significantly increased their impact on sales, the exec said at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) investors conference. 

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