Artificial Intelligence (AI) is improving business outcomes and creating competitive advantage for leading beverage brands.
While the technology itself is complex, its proliferation is easy to understand: operational efficiencies, market and product data collection simplification, supply chain optimization, increased transparency, and the sales activities it enables. By 2024, AI in the food and beverage market is expected to exceed a CAGR of 65.3%, with Image Recognition (IR) paving the way: By 2025, the IR market will reach $622 million globally. “The greatest impact this technology will have on the beverage industry is its power to change human behavior for the better,” says Laura Sellers, Executive Vice President of Product and Engineering at GoSpotCheck.
“With IR, people will have more opportunities to take action that truly matters.”
In a recent survey by FoodDive, 49% of food and beverage manufacturers reported that automating mundane tasks is a top business challenge, while 84% said their current data infrastructure is unable to support their data intelligence needs. Powered by Machine Learning (ML), top IR solutions automate tasks, transform data into real-time insights, and enable suppliers and distributors to analyze diverse display types from the convenience of mobile. That data is analyzed, tagged, segmented, and filtered through a proprietary ML model in the cloud with results returned to device in minutes. From there, sales teams receive direction on next steps to drive incremental, localized growth in-market. Liberating reps from manual data collection gives enterprise beverage companies four primary benefits to form strategy, set goals, and manage results to drive long-term business value using IR and ML.
Increase Efficiency + Business Value
- IR empowers users to “do more with less” through technology that quickly identifies and segments products, eliminates hand-counting, and produces results on-location. Data captured is used to define the precise action needed to drive incremental sales, ensure contract compliance, and accelerate sell-through rates by market, enabling corporate leaders to make decisions based on unbiased and objective data analysis.
Improve Set Accuracy
- Nearly half of today’s beverage companies face challenges around task automation and efficiency. In response, automated asset detection and segmentation through IR ensure fewer manual mistakes, particularly when sales reps analyze multiple coolers each day. Receiving results on-device enables reps to produce clear signals back to headquarters in real-time, allowing for nimble in-market adjustments.
Improve Trade Marketing Performance
- Independent channels can comprise more than half of a supplier and/or a distributor’s revenue. Through IR’s ability to accurately capture data and recognize errors, beverage brands can verify compliance for trade negotiations, and drive accountability on and off-premise.
- Making data collection more efficient allows distributors and suppliers to optimize labor and reinvest resources into higher-leverage selling activities. Empowering sales teams with intuitive software also increases rep engagement, accuracy, and productivity.
Image Rec Implementation
Once a beverage brand defines an IR strategy, testing platforms and proving ROI is critical before scaling them. Consider the following criteria when comparing IR technology partners:
Intuitive End User Interface
- Explore solutions designed with your mobile workforce in mind. Efficient, intuitive mobile tools increase employee productivity and engagement, provide context, and reduce attrition.
Integrated Solution for IR, Task Management & Execution
- Many solutions only have IR capabilities, without task execution or performance tracking. Beverage companies need to arm reps with contextual data to make the right call and to send signals back to leadership, requiring in-app task execution capabilities. Turnkey platforms like GoSpotCheck enable brands to capture IR data, measure results, provide context and prioritization, and take action in one app.
Diverse Scene Type Analysis
- Ensure the IR platform can analyze multiple scene types with accuracy and speed, including cooler, vault, menu, shelf, and display. Understand the product roadmap and successful milestones reached for each scene type.
Robust Data Pipeline
- The most cost-intensive component of successful IR is the data pipeline. Machine learning AI produces massive amounts of data, so effective IR solutions must quickly and accurately generate, process, and analyze vast data sets, and make data fast and usable. If the system cannot work with data at-scale, companies will run into costly roadblocks. Additionally, the quality of the data used to train the model will determine the quality of the results produced, so brands must balance capabilities with highly-trained human teams when investing in a platform.
Speed & Accuracy
- The strength of the model must surpass that of human accuracy, which is about 96%, and deliver results to the device in under 2 minutes. “Adopters should start by striving for something better than human accuracy,” says Goran Rauker, Computer Vision and Machine Learning Specialist at GoSpotCheck. “This provides a benchmark for measuring results and making improvements.”
IR technology will transform operations and field sales performance in the beverage industry. But for category leaders to see success in adoption, they should establish clear goals, test and prove ROI, and choose their technology partners wisely. Beverage brands who leverage IR will reap the benefits in the long-term and create a more productive workforce -- and a healthier bottom line.
By Tim Hamm, Market Director - Beer, Wine, Spirits, GoSpotCheck
Tim is Market Director for beer, wine, and spirits at GoSpotCheck. Tim served as a VP of On-Premise Sales for Republic National Distributing Company for over 10 years and drove top line growth for Pernod Ricard, Constellation, Brown Forman and other premium US and international suppliers.
Tim fuses his experience delivering exceptional sales performance with best-in-class technology to help distributors and suppliers ignite execution. He provides strategic solutions to help customers gain market insights and transform field sales performance in real-time. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprint from Beverage Industry Magazine, April, 2020