The beverage and brewing industry is known for its art of beer making, but not so much for its use of technology to deliver a great customer experience. But the Covid pandemic turned things upside down when shutdowns across the country dealt a severe blow to the drinks industry.
When the pandemic hit, AB-InBev had no choice but to dump the technology. Viewing technology as a competitive advantage, AB InBev has invested heavily in technology by creating AI/ML products and solutions, which help the company create more touchpoints for its customers and also improve its bottom line.
“So AI and ML help us to optimize our operations, it helps us to optimize our collections, the Order To Cash process and also to improve the ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) product offering,” said Pritam. Dutta, Global Head – Fintech Ventures & Innovation, Anheuser-Busch InBev.
It’s unheard of for a beverage company to enter the fintech space. But AB InBev wanted to leave no stone unturned to develop its market. “Fintech initiatives, which we have identified as a key customer need, have become an offering, with a focus on small and medium enterprises, so through this market we provide several products, our products and certain ancillary products . It’s directly on the client platform and I can also provide financial services through it,” Dutta explained.
Elaborating on the financial technology used in the company, Dutta said, “We have invested in creating platforms through which we can do better business with customers, we have invested in a fintech company through which we can create a 360 degree financial relationship with customers and we have also co-built data and analytics products, for which we collaborate with other companies. »
The organization has also built a wallet to help its customers with cash-related challenges like making payments. According to Dutta, these fintech products and investments have enabled AB InBev to create a financial ecosystem, making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to do business.
If they succeeded in setting up this financial ecosystem, it is important to understand what prompted them to do so. “Most of our clients are small to medium sized businesses and most of them had working capital issues because bars and pubs were closed there were a lot of revenue challenges so thanks to the setup we had here in India, we were able to identify challenges with customers not being able to pay on time, with significant delays, etc. and we were able to manage them with a combination of process redesign and technology intervention,” Dutta said.
It helped them understand that customers need access to credit, which they could potentially go to banks or other financial institutions for, but the rates and process could be cumbersome, and that prompted them fill this gap and provide the financial services businesses need. .
Beer Garage Acceleration Program
Speaking about their technology and innovation arm, Dutta added, “We have Beer Garage, which is our external innovation arm that researches and brings new technologies to ABI and we have also created platforms like Innovation Garage through which we collaborate with other companies in building these technologies together.
The Beer Garage Accelerator Program, a global program run from India, registered over 1,500 applications last year and helped identify key partners in areas such as FinTech, logistics and digital transformation.
From 1,500 startups, AB InBev identified 11 startups in AI, neural science and social commerce through its Beer Garage Accelerator program, then built business models with the startups and is now expand them across the globe, generating significant business value.
Explaining the concept in more detail, Dutta said, “It’s a program where startups apply, we give them challenges, and those who are selected, are supported by us and our partners.” It’s a rewarding journey with access to top-notch mentors and venture capital funding.
Aerchain, part of the 2020 cohort of the Beer Garage Accelerator & as Procurement Platform, recently raised $3 million at a valuation of $30 million after graduating from the Accelerator program.
He continued: “We felt that not everything can be done by the company, it is always good to work with partners who have specialized skills that can help drive the value generation agenda forward.”
Sales and Marketing
Dutta said technology also plays an important role in their sales and marketing department. For the same, he added, “We have invested heavily in acquiring first-party data, through which we are able to build stronger relationships with customers.” As part of the Beer garage Accelerator program, Dutta said ABI piloted the world’s first visual content and targeted smart ads on OTT and Youtube.
Also within the framework of the Accelerator program, ABI recently tested a technology that helps them identify the reaction of a consumer when he sees his advertisement, the functioning of his brain waves, according to the analysis of which he is able to understand how effective the particular ad is and create more effective advertisements.
As part of our Beer Garage Incubator program, we faced an issue regarding the performance of our brands on retail shelves. They have invested in and created proprietary technology through which they are able to capture the movements of our brands, how they play and get real-time analysis of how their brands are doing.
The Beer Garage team has also launched a virtual horse race in Metaverse and is an early adopter of NFT & Blockchain technology. Pritam also mentioned that the company will launch the 2022 edition of Beer Garage Accelerator on April 20.