How Coca-Cola plans to kick up its 'virtual aisle' presence

The Coca-Cola Company is scaling up its strategies to ensure its brands are “within a click’s reach of desire” as online shopping continues to surge due to COVID-19. The company will enhance its brand presence on the "virtual aisle", investing in high-quality content such as photos, videos and product descriptions, to ensure its brands look as good online as they do in store. The beverage giant said it will be prioritising package options that are fit-for-purpose for online sales, boosting investment in digital imagery, increasing in-app visibility with e-delivery grocers, and piloting digitally enabled fulfillment models

This includes partnering with e-grocers and retailers to make Coca-Cola products visible and eye-catching on screens, optimising content for search engines based on how consumers talk, and sharing and scaling digital best practices across globally networked teams. On the food-service side, Coke is working with restaurant customers and third-party aggregators to ensure its beverages are featured prominently on digital menus and in combos as consumers quickly migrate to mobile delivery for groceries and prepared meals. Coca-Cola North America will also be taking a digital-first approach to promoting new brands, partnering with Walmart on click-and-collect sampling campaigns for Coke Energy and AHA sparkling water.

Secondly, the company said it will be prioritising preferred brands and packaging. It will be collaborating with retail customers to adjust supply chains and prioritise delivery and promotion of core brands and stock-keeping units (SKUs) such as multipacks as people adjust to stay-at-home lifestyles. With consumers sticking with established, trusted brands during uncertain times, the company said it is working to keep top-selling offerings in stock and scaling back or postponing planned brand launches. 

Last but not least, the Coca-Cola Company is looking to trigger impulse purchases on digital path to purchase.

According to the article, the Coca-Cola system is using personalised offers, food-and-beverage bundles and social commerce solutions to prompt impulse purchases online, building on deep expertise in the physical shopping environment.

Chief customer and commercial officer Elaine Bowers Coventry said these impulse purchases will be trigger through after-basket prompts in the online cart and geolocation messaging as a shopper approaches the store for a click-and-collect order. “We’re exploring ways to disrupt online shoppers in the same way we do in a store with digital solutions that present more options for personalised messaging and offers," she added.

Coca-Cola company's recent move comes as it looks to support the surge in eCommerce channels, which it said to have doubled in some countries as more people order necessities for home delivery. The beverage company sees "a digital buying boom in 2020", with shoppers seeking the safety and convenience of contactless options – including click-and-collect (curbside pickup), restaurant takeout and delivery, meal kit subscriptions, e-grocery shipments and more.

“We have heard from many retail and food-service customers that their eCommerce business has sped up three years in three months,” said Bowers Coventry, adding that eCommerce is no longer an alternative channel. Additionally, the Coca-Cola system will also continue to experiment with direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce by expanding online platforms such as Coca-Cola En Tu Hogar in Latin America, which lets consumers order beverages and groceries for home delivery.

Earlier in April in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemice, Coca-Cola said it would be pulling back on its marketing spend. This included a pause on sizeable marketing campaigns through the early stages of the crisis, which will be reengaged when the timing is right. The move came as the company found that there is limited effectiveness to broad-based brand marketing during the period, and the company has also reduced its direct consumer communications.

The Coca-Cola company was already looking to invest in digital capabilities to strengthen consumer connections back then. It was also further piloting several different digital-enabled initiatives using fulfillment methods, such as B2B2Home or D2C platforms to capture online demand for at-home consumption in the future.

“With shoppers spending less time browsing, it is crucial that we work to minimise out-of-stocks and maximise share of visible inventory. In markets around the world, we've redeployed on-the-ground sales reps, especially those orientated toward the on-premise trade and refocused them on merchandising, resulting in increased share of displays and stock on the floor,” James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said then.

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