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The alcohol sector has undergone a “significant digital transformation”, according to the chief growth officer for US distribution giant Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS), which recently invested in online platform Reserve Bar.
Last month, SGWS acquired an equity stake in alcohol e-commerce platform Reserve Bar for an undisclosed sum. SGWS is the biggest alcohol distributor in the States.
The investment in Reserve Bar was made through the company’s Ventures arm.
According to David Chaplin, SGWS’ chief growth officer, the digital transformation of the industry will “continue to grow exponentially”. The pandemic accelerated the move to online channels over the past year.
This digital transformation will provide the distributor with “new channels and opportunities for its suppliers to reach customers and the end consumer”, Chaplin added.
The investment in Reserve Bar is in line with the firm’s broader strategy of “building and expanding its digital capability”, he said.
The two companies will “leverage each other’s strengths and unique capabilities to expand opportunities for our brands to reach their targeted consumers”, Chaplin noted.
Chaplin said the platform is also a “great additional marketplace to showcase all of Southern Glazer’s suppliers and their premium brand portfolios”.
Reserve Bar is said to be the leading e-commerce platform for premium and luxury spirits, which are offered for delivery to consumers.
Chaplin said: “The fact that [Reserve Bar] specialises in ultra-premium and luxury brands also fits perfectly into our new fine wine and artisanal spirits strategy – where we are looking to enhance the route to market and customer service aspects for our restaurant, fine wine, and craft spirits partners.”
Reserve Bar also revealed its new Spirited Change initiative, which seeks to boost diversity and inclusion in the industry by offering marketing assistance to minority- and women-owned suppliers.
Chaplin said the initiative provides a “platform to promote diversity in the industry, specifically with women and minority-owned brands, which is a big priority for Southern Glazer’s”.
SGWS launched its business-to-business (B2B) Proof e-commerce platform in early 2019.
“The acceleration of our own shift to digital at Southern Glazer’s has been a huge part of our success to date and will continue to drive that success in 2021 and beyond,” said Chaplin.
“The fact that as of the beginning of 2021, our own Proof e-commerce platform had already generated US$1 billion in revenue and [added] 100,000-plus customers since its launch in early 2019 is evident of the speed and direction the digital beverage alcohol marketplace is moving.”
In December 2020, SGWS also unveiled a new B2B e-commerce team, focused on sales growth and enhancing capabilities for customers’ online businesses.
When asked what other opportunities the company is exploring through its Ventures arm, Chaplin said: “We’re not ready to share any specifics about areas we’re pursuing, but we are always keeping our eyes open for new strategic and innovative growth opportunities in areas that complement or enhance our existing business.”