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How Bacardi Served Up a New Digital Experience for Consumers

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MarTech Today – by Rodric Bradford

The COVID outbreak has led to an increase of at-home consumption in the spirits industry, and to match that demand. Bacardi, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, has rolled out a new digital experience in Europe to increase their digital footprint and deliver innovative connected experiences to consumers. 

“The last six months have been all about cocktails at home as a response to city and venue closures,” said Bacardi Senior Director of Digital Marketing Chris Windebank. “We have been helping users discover their inner mixologist by showing recipes and tools online. People have been learning how to make cocktails as a way to upgrade the at-home celebrations, or reminisce about their favorite bar or a special get together.” 

Mixing in operational efficiencies

In order to meet their objectives of delivering an enhanced digital experience, Bacardi hired EPAM, a software development and design company to improve brand consistency and perception, while accelerating time to marketing and delivering significant cost savings. 

The numbers behind the results? 

EPAM streamlined Bacardi’s digital environment by implementing a digital platform for multiple brands, a DevOps automation platform resulting in 16 times greater website deployment capacity, and a 42% reduction in infrastructure costs. For EPAM the road to this efficiency started by running tests on the old digital platform, including existing applications, and identifying ways to transfer the infrastructure into the cloud. 

“We were able to achieve these significant results by implementing efficient use of cloud data, advanced machine learning and AI, as well as taking on a broader development of the tech infrastructure,” said Jason Harman, Co-head of Global Business at EPAM, focusing on European markets. “We built more of an industrialized agile approach to displaying websites and working with their brands, businesses and IT. It is a way of working that builds a foundation with other activities in the digital transformation umbrella. We are a few years into the journey but it is yielding significant results.” 

The increase in operational efficiency can also be found in the transfer of multiple content management systems to WordPress, as well increased cloud usage for content. 

“They were not optimized with their cloud provider so the case of cloud migration was important and a reduction in deployments was our focus,” said Harman. “[Bacardi] was spending more money there than in their data center, so we developed operational and data efficiencies to save them more money.” 

It is an effort that has allowed for greater reinvestment by Bacardi. 

“Any cost savings resulting from the reduced infrastructure gives us more capital to reinvest in the user experience and our digital assets,” said Windebank. “In digital that means showing up in ways that are easy to navigate and with content that is of the moment.” 

Stirring up new websites

With distinctive brands like Bacardi rum and Bombay Sapphire gin, consumers have a long held expectation of distinctive digital experiences.  “Having consistent frameworks and navigation, while keeping the individuality of each brand was important,” said Windebank. 

To respond to this request, EPAM built a system to categorize and template the over 150 websites and thousands of different domains. EPAM’s strategy was to try to establish a direct relationship with the consumer by initiating the sharing of content and experiences via apps, on the website, and through other digital channels. 

Automating the digital experience, and developing content workflow efficiencies, were key in driving the success of the project. An automated content release process replaced the work of a team of about 10 that performed monthly updates, while investments in the automated processes like redirection to new websites enhanced customer experience while replacing capital that was spent on ongoing website maintenance and inefficient activities and tasks. EPAM also automated the support infrastructure, identifying inefficiencies and implementing self-service functions. 

“Since we first started working with Bacardi’s international headquarters in London four or five years ago, we have really been able to separate the specific issues into operations, website, and customer engagement,” said Harman. “All solutions have been cost-effective while providing a better digital experience overall for consumers.” 

Shaking up engagement

Increasing consumer engagement is an obvious bottom line result for EPAM’s work with Bacardi. One upgrade made during this transformation is to integrate Shop links on the pages of core brands. Behind the scenes they have linked their websites with partners who have the capability to sell and deliver Bacardi products, including Amazon and Instacart. 

Many European markets prohibit the purchase of liquor directly from a supplier, so it is a B2B experience operationally, but a B2C experience from a marketing standpoint. 

“While the user is not buying the product from us directly,” said Harman, “we are creating a one-stop-shop experience. Before they would learn about a product on our site, but then had to exit and search online where to buy it. Now they can do it all in one spot, on the same visit.”

To add even more depth to the digital experience a store locator has been added to the shopping section. To continue to increase the consumer digital experience, EPAM has now moved on to a major overhaul of Bacardi’s CRM, including the implementation of new data sources to use to start anticipating and targeting customers.

“This is a quite interesting phase of the project because this is not something you can buy off the shelf,” said Harman. “The new CRM is a key strategy in this business transformation project. Digital transformation is happening more around the cloud, and we like being a part of that.”

The original article can be found here.