Top 10 Takeaways From The Encompass Connect Conference 2022 For Beverage Producers, Distributors, and Retailers

With the theme of Brand To Demand, attendees learned industry best practices, inspired new possibilities and unleashed the power of joint learning.

June 23, 2022

The Connect Conference brought together innovators, business leaders and strategic Encompass users across all three tiers of the alcoholic beverage supply chain: suppliers, distributors and retailers. 

Throughout the multi-day event, a series of speakers and breakout sessions shared industry best practices, showcased innovative solutions to digitally connect the supply chain and shared learnings and problem solving strategies to top challenges within each tier of the supply chain. 

Below you’ll find top ten takeaways from leaders in the Connect Conference like Sameer Mungur, Chief Data Officer of Fintech, Bart Watson, Chief Economist of Brewers Association, Jessica Infante, Managing Editor of Brewbound, Terrell Davis, co-founder of Defy and pro football Hall of Famer and many others. 

1. Shifting Consumer Demand. 

Consumer behavior is shifting more rapidly than ever before, rippling up and down the supply chain and complicating the ability to properly forecast demand. Instead of waiting, we can meet this quandary head-on with the right technology. Encompass CEO Jonathan O’Neil has known this is the case since the founding of Encompass Technologies. 

“The forecasting process and systems in place were set up during the days when there were fewer choices and consumption patterns were relatively stable. Today, the trend points to consumers wanting more choices.” Jonathan O’Neil, CEO at Encompass Technologies

2. Real Time Insights.

Real time insights are the future of customer experience measurement across all three tiers of the bevalc supply chain. The right data is vital to making swift decisions that can move your business forward. The truth is, if you’re not leveraging real time insights, you will soon be surpassed by a competitor that is.

"Technology and data are crucial. We need real-time info so that we can be agile and make decisions based on data--knowing where there are out-of-stocks, underperforming stores, or distributors not making deliveries on time. We can set a game plan to do promotions, tastings, and deploy assets to beef up areas in the moment. But we wouldn't know that if we didn't have the technology and if we didn't have Encompass Technologies reports that say here's where we are, here's where we need to go, and here's what we need to do to get this stuff moved." Terrell Davis, co-founder of Defy and pro football Hall of Famer.

3. Inclusivity At The Heart.

Hearing from reporters to heads of marketing at breweries like Shiner, it’s clear big consumer trends are revolving around youth, diversity, women, 65+ and inclusivity. The most recurring solution shared is to integrate diversity into the core of your business to ensure their voices are heard when reviewing sales, branding or marketing materials. Having an inclusive and diverse team enables you to better meet your audience where they are.

“In talking about younger customers, there’s a deep craving for in person connection because most of their superficial communication happens on their devices.” Matthew Pechman, Head of Marketing at Shiner

4. Sales Representative Of The Future. 

There is incredibly powerful data locked in the retail tier of the supply chain and it’s changing the way sales representatives of the future work. Unlocking it provides insight into products on the shelf down to SKU-level detail at individual retailers. This information alongside online ordering and electronic payments is already making waves in how sales reps interact with their retail accounts. A combination of tech solutions bringing data, ordering, and payment together enables sales representatives to spend more time on selling initiatives.  The result is mitigation of out of stocks, optimization of shelf space, and more accurate demand forecasting… and that’s only the beginning. 

“Out of stocks are a massive issue in our industry. 8% of sales are not realized, resulting in $82 billing in lost sales.” Tommy Riley, VP of Growth for Retail Insights, Encompass

5. Success Stories. 

Encompass users shared multiple ways to include Encompass as a partner in their organization. It was made clear from panelists and conversations between sessions that innovative solutions like distributor ordering portal, warehouse management systems and retail insights – or superior 24/7 customer support– have helped businesses within all three tiers thrive.

6. Employee Retention. 

Technology isn’t designed to replace people, it’s designed to retain them and reallocate time to responsibilities that grow the business more quickly. Dan “Lucky” Kerig, Owner of Lucky Joe’s said that he’s been able to retain his key employees and enable them to do more work that grows the business rather than shuffling with paper invoices, manual inventory checks and more. It was clear throughout the conference that those who retained the best employees (brewers, warehouse pickers, delivery drivers, bar managers - you name it) are the ones that leverage technology.

7. Meaningful Branding. 

Whether it was Jenny Bonchak from Slingshot Coffee expressing the power a diverse brand can wield across the supply chain, Robert Lund talking about the intensity of bringing the first of its kind cannabis beverage to market or Jim Geikie talking through the prominence of health and wellness in the kombucha space, one thing is for sure: the message on the can matters just as much as what’s in it. Then once you have it, stay true to your brand to maintain authenticity and keep true to customer expectations.

8. Occasion To Brand. 

There’s a battle in the beverage landscape taking place wherein people are choosing between a brand with morals they stand behind versus the occasion they are consuming the beverage within. The reality is even if people choose a beverage based on the occasion, their second evaluator isn’t price or design or format - it’s the feeling of supporting a brand that connects with their world view. 

“It is becoming more about brands than about beer styles or occasions that will drive growth.” Bart Watson, Chief Economist for Brewers Association

9. Embrace The Convergence. 

Attendees reported seeing no slow down in the convergence of brands - large and small, international and local - in the beverage industry. Consumer preferences continue to drive brands to explore alternative beverages. Those who are open to partnerships and collaborations will be the ones that breakthrough the market and acquire their fair share.

10. Connect The Tiers. 

The magic of the Connect Conference was in the depth of how people engaged with one another around connecting the three tiers. It went beyond technology to discuss best practices around compensation models for drivers and supercharging sales reps to help retailers grow their business, to including warehouse personnel in sales team meetings and sharing tighter forecasts from manufacturers with sales teams. 

When a business meeting in the office is happening, say with the sales team, it’s important to remember all the areas of responsibilities in the wholesale, delivery and retail side, too.” Chris Koch, COO of Adams Beverage.

You could say that attendees of the Connect Conference 2022 learned a thing or two and took home a few applicable tools and methodologies to apply to their business in a way that helps them connect with the other two tiers of the three-tier system. To learn more about how we’re connecting the three tiers, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to the right of this.

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