A high-profile Internet startup turns to mobile CRM and a retail partner network to deliver liquor, beer and wine to consumers located in nine U.S. cities.
Over the last decade, the Internet and mobility have radically transformed business models and created a platform for products and services that would have been unimaginable several years ago.
One company that has tapped into this trend is Drizly, which delivers beer, wine and liquor to homes and offices in nine metropolitan areas, including, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle. At the heart of Drizly's business model is a retail partner network. When a customer places an order using the e-commerce site or an iPhone or Android app, it is sent to a participating store, which completes the delivery and, in some cases, charges a fee.
"We are highly dependent on technology," says Bryan Goodwin, vice president of sales and retail partners. "We have a fragmented sales force spread out across various markets, and we need to keep track of what everybody is doing in the field."
Initially, the online retailer relied on spreadsheets to store data, but that wasn't robust enough to handle the complexities of real-time interaction and e-commerce. Managers realized that they needed a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that could streamline the sales and vendor management processes and eliminate problem points that could result in service disruptions and breakdowns.
However, most of the products available on the market were "more robust than what we needed," Goodwin explains. As a result, Drizly explored other types of products and ultimately turned to Base CRM, which went live in May 2014.
"The product is an excellent fit with what we are trying to accomplish," he says. "The mobile app is particularly attractive because we do not have offices in all the cities we operate in, and our GMs are always on the go."
The Base solution includes geolocation tools and sophisticated reporting, and it includes the ability to view data and reports on mobile devices. It also provides offline access to data and automatically syncs files when an Internet connection resumes.
All of this translates into a more agile business model. "The app makes it possible to identify prospects or accounts that are nearby—including independent stores and outlets—and call someone directly from their phone," Goodwin says. "In addition, general managers and sales staff can keep track of prospects, gain insights into the sales pipeline, better understand the sales cycle and drill down to gain more information. We have granular insights into the business, including what stage a potential deal is at, as well as overall vendor performance."
The approach has proved transformative, according to Goodwin. "People are more organized, and we have better visibility into the business—including activities that the sales staff is logging, their appointments, where they are at with a prospect, how much time they spend on prospects and a variety of other day-to-day insights," he points out.
"We are at a stage where we are growing rapidly and require sophisticated functionality. The ability to connect the CRM with other enterprise systems and make data available and actionable is the key to our success."
Samuel Greengard, a CIO Insight contributor, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.
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