Lightning in a Bottle

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Lightning in a Bottle

By Tim Clark, Editor-in-Chief - 03/01/2005

Imagine the nightmare of organizing an endless stream of fragmented data in order to effectively plan, execute and measure the success of retail marketing campaigns. For E. & J. Gallo, one of the world's largest wine makers, this nightmare was a reality at one point. The company was faced with the daunting requirement to update a constant flow of retail outlet openings and closings, as well as keeping up with the changes caused by mergers and acquisitions.
The enormity of Gallo's data warehouse compounded the data integrity challenge due to the hundreds of weekly deletions, additions and revisions to maintain any semblance of accuracy. This data drives Gallo's sales and marketing initiatives, and ties into national chain programs, business reviews and other store-oriented activity.

In addition, Gallo's route accounting system received store-level data feeds from hundreds of wine distributors, which had to be rolled up to an accurate, updated account hierarchy for national accounts. Integrating accurate data into its planning systems was necessary to give its marketers and distributors the advantage of valuable real time sales information.

Home Grown Effort
In response, Gallo uncorked the Sales Information Management System, a three-year, company-wide overhaul that created a more accurate depiction of sales activity throughout Gallo's entire distributor base. Thanks to this home grown effort, the company was receiving weekly sales reports but soon realized that its data integrity was falling apart. Product master was clean, however, account master was getting worse. A Gallo distributor could be 99.5 percent accurate on Monday and then drop to 99 percent on Tuesday. "It continued to fall apart so we put a ton of manual resources into trying to maintain our account base," says Peter Abate, vice president, Sales & Marketing Analytic Solutions, E. & J. Gallo Winery. The account base became bigger as Gallo rolled the system out across the country and today Gallo currently holds 600,000 retail accounts in its database. "The key to those accounts is being able to know the hierarchy of ownership," says Abate.

The Solution to Data Quality
Enter TDLinx, the solution to Gallo's data quality, alignment and integration challenges. The solution allows Gallo to organize and manage an internal customer master file, integrate customer data with scanner, promotional and marketing information, plan and execute merchandising and promotional activity, and then evaluate business results within any frame of reference. Proprietary TDLinx Codes are the vocabulary of this universal language of stores and accounts. TDLinx Codes exist for every supermarket, mass merchandiser, drug store, wholesale club, liquor, cigarette outlet, convenience store and category killer, and at every level of the retail account hierarchy -- store, account, buying office, supplier, distribution center, company, corporation and holding company.

"TDLinx gives us the ability to understand where our efforts will have the biggest impact," says Abate. "It helps us manage resources, so that our efforts are being directed against the accounts that can have a dramatic effect on our business, and allows us to focus more on value-added activity."

To successfully leverage a Valentine's Day program, for instance, Gallo can now target a retailer with 1,000 stores but only target the 500 that have flower departments. This type of targeted information saves a tremendous amount of time and excess promotional cost. "Fish departments, bakeries, square footage...it all helps us determine specific ways to sell," says Abate. "TD Linx is the glue that holds our data warehouse together. If you are dealing with account-specific info and you want to pull ACNielsen or Spectra back into the database, unless you have TDLinx, you are going to need an army of people to manually figure everything out."

Multiple Choices
Outsourcing customer file maintenance to TDLinx enables Gallo to have universal coverage of the standardized trade channels, employ consistent naming conventions for stores and accounts, maintain account and parent hierarchies and verify active records. Gallo uses TDLinx in several operating areas.
In sales, TDLinx is used in analyzing actual sales versus potential sales, examining store clustering and integrating account sales with data from other sources, including Spectra, ACNielsen and IRI. In marketing, TDLinx is also used during new product introductions to help Gallo prove the shelf worthiness of the wine to retailers, to help target advertising and to develop shopper characteristics and chain profiles.

Abate says his department would be increased by 20 people if it weren't for TDLinx and the company's data warehouse would be utilized at one-third of what it is being used at today. "It makes us a subject matter expert, says Abate. "When you know more about the customer's business then they do, that puts you in a real strong position."