At Dialexa, we bring you thought leadership straight from the leaders themselves. Don’t just take our word on what’s innovative across technology, business and leadership, read it for yourself in the Technology Leaders series. This month, we’re covering the omnichannel topic.

Gerry Mecca is the Vice President of Information Technology at Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS). He has been with Dr Pepper for 15 years. He has specific accountability for packaged beverages, which is the part of DPS most of us know as his team automates the sales and delivery of the beverages we get from our favorite retailer or restaurant. Gerry also owns innovation for mobile and web content as well as end-user computing and data center hosting. Gerry is a driven, results oriented executive with over 30-years experience in technology and sales leadership in consumer products, energy, and wholesale distribution. Accomplished in strategic planning, organizational design, project delivery, financial management and staff development, Gerry has also been involved in two start-ups and two successful IPOs. 

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Dialexa: How does Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) currently use omnichannel, especially from an I.T. perspective?

Gerry: I.T.’s perspective is always with the business in mind. Omnichannel from our perspective is enabling our sales teams to sell to any customer, in this case a retailer, restaurant, a bar, a convenience store, a grocery store, a wholesaler or somebody who’s selling products to somebody else to while maintaining our complex franchise rules.

Though we have the in-person sales piece down, we needed to allow these customers who are geographically difficult to reach or wanting to order at 10 pm, which is after we or they close. So, one of the early ways we are enabling omnichannel is setting up an e-commerce site to allow customers to buy even when they can’t reach us by phone or in person.

I mentioned complex rules. Another reason we don’t talk about consumer direct is because we have a complex method of selling. Because Dr Pepper is sold and distributed by us as well as by Coke, Pepsi and independent bottlers, we have to know the territory you’re buying from so we can match it with the bottler that serves that territory. It can get very complicated. So omnichannel from a consumer direct standpoint has proven to be not just a button we push or a switch we turn on.

Dialexa: So from your I.T. perspective you use omnichannel as a way to get your product to the reseller in a more efficient manner.

Gerry: Yes, that’s my goal. I make sure that the bottler gets it to the reseller. Whether that’s through a 3rd party, or if it’s direct from one of our distribution centers, or whether they pick it up at a distribution center - our whole reason for existing is to sell products to a reseller and have them sell them along with their other offerings

Dialexa: What technology do you use right now? 

Gerry: From the in-person salesperson perspective, they’re carrying an iPad. For their region of the country, the information on the customer they’re dealing with, and their particular products and pricing is all intelligently provided to them. For this reason, it’s pretty simple for us to sell into the retail store - we go in, count their inventory, find a store manager and tell them what they need to do to replenish. We can also sell them on the latest promotions and new offerings.

When it comes to selling over the phone, we are crafting a strategy to improve telephone sales in a way to make them as equipped to sell as the field does. This will involve much of the sales technology that is in the iPad but provide much more information on the customer on a tool than is needed when calling in-person. If they want to order online, this is where it gets the most complex because the Internet is the Internet. So if our customer goes online, they have to establish an account that allows us to be sure which brands they can buy from us or source elsewhere. And, so again, we have to map all that behind the scenes. More than likely a SharePoint solution and will use the same to communicate unique selling opportunities and promotions that are tied to that retailer in that geography.

Dialexa: Interesting...

Gerry: We also have a channel called Warehouse Direct, which is, in this case, where we’re selling to the warehouses of the retailers. So it would be, for example, Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, Kroger, etc. They all have major distribution centers, and we sell our packages like Hawaiian Punch and Mott’s Apple Sauce to them and they make sure it gets to the right retailer. In that case, we can sell it anywhere in the country because we, for the most part, are the maker and the reseller. There is great promise there to go multichannel.

Dialexa: Where have you seen omnichannel come from and where do you see it going?

Gerry: Where we saw it come from is mostly Internet shopping. The online shopping has driven it to our business-to-business customer - it’s commonly called consumerization. And some of our customers are one-man shops, so ordering on their phone or auto-replenishment is also a need. Again, they wanted to buy whatever way they wanted to buy.

Where do I see omnichannel going? I see it continuing to innovate to give people options to get their beverages. Through actively listening to the voice of our customer we can see the changes and adapt. Being disruptive but not damage our key partners is a slippery slope. I actually am not certain whether every retailer who’s out there in the market is going to be in business in the same manner that they’re in business today, but we will keep making good tasting, pure and high-quality products and do what we can to get them where they are needed as efficiently as possible. I remember when “disruption” was a bad word. Everyone used segmentation to figure out who cares about which way to get what, then we intelligently made it so that everybody can get it that way.

Dialexa: It’s more complex than one would think. What would you consider your most immediate need from an omnichannel standpoint is?

Gerry: For me it has to be in this not in-person sales moment where, for example, if I’m the manager, and I am walking around the store at my KOA up in the mountains, and it’s about time for the campers to start showing up for the new season, that I can pick up my iPhone and place an order whenever I want and be confident I’ll have soft drinks in my commissary when the customer shows up to buy. That I can be able to do that without any limitations or concerns, and I will be able to access my pricing for my market and know exactly what I’m allowed to buy and at what price all without talking to anyone…just like Amazon Prime. And I can get some reassurance that the product has been ordered, and it’s en-route to me to make it for my customers when they want it.

Dialexa: Anything else that you want to add about omnichannel?

Gerry: No. I think it’s something that we are embracing from here on out to grow. At least in the areas I support. We believe we may have missed out on some of our smaller channels where customers just didn’t like our minimum order size or delivery schedule or another issue so they just went somewhere else. Omnichannel, and mostly e-commerce and mobile ordering, will help close that gap.

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