As we close out a year of lockdowns and quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet of Things solidified its position as the default setting for consumers of all ages and demographics. But what do you do when you’re in the alcohol business, and suddenly bars and restaurants are closed, gatherings are limited, and customers are encouraged to stay home?
Even as most geographic markets have relaxed restrictions on alcohol deliveries to consumers, many spirits companies simply weren’t ready to meet the spike in demand, at least not digitally.
Innovating e-commerce experiences has been part of Bacardi’s long-term strategy for several years, but with COVID-19 shutting down a significant part of the spirits world—bars, restaurants, and hospitality—EPAM has enabled Bacardi to accelerate its strategy to enhance its digital presence, just as people began discovering that they can buy spirits online and have them delivered right to their door.
With a focus on digital transformation and a strong partnership with the software engineering experts EPAM, Bacardi was not only ready to meet this new digital demand but maintain a scalable and reliable hosting environment capable of supporting 99.9% availability and achieving zero-downtime deployments.
It’s important to note that Bacardi’s digital portfolio consists of more than 150 websites and 2,500 web domains, operating in over 270 markets with more than 200 brands and labels. Offering a consistent and engaging digital presence for their customers was an essential undertaking for this digital transformation.
The challenge was to expand its digital footprint and deliver innovative connected experiences to consumers while keeping costs under control. The previous platform had many manual deployment processes prone to errors, resulting in significant overhead, critical availability issues and bottleneck constraints. Because each website had separate components and set-up, deployments were executed in silos, making automation challenging at scale.
As an experienced AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, EPAM was able to help revolutionize Bacardi’s digital marketing platform with a fully automated continuous iteration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline with a self-service (infrastructure as code) platform and infrastructure orchestration components.
By optimizing its digital marketing platform and adopting a DevOps culture, EPAM helped Bacardi transform its technology ecosystem to deliver 16 times greater website deployment capacity and a dramatic reduction in infrastructure costs.
So, what does that mean in English? A seamless shopping journey on Bacardi’s core brand websites, where visitors could move from searching, to browsing, to ordering products, with a series of clicks.
Behind the scenes, the “Shop” links on Bacardi’s core brand pages now connect its customers with partners who have the capability to sell and deliver its products. This could be Instacart, Drizly, ReserveBar, Amazon, Tesco, Carrefour and many others, depending on the country.
While users still aren’t able to buy directly from the site, EPAM has created a de facto one-stop-shop experience where Bacardi can share product information, including recipes and tasting notes, and then seamlessly convert visitors into customers by connecting them with retailers.
To effectively leverage the new platform, EPAM knew Bacardi needed to embrace a DevOps culture and establish a new set of standards, with a strong emphasis placed on improving communication and collaboration between stakeholders, EPAM, and third-party teams.
Following an agile methodology, EPAM accommodated the rapid speed of delivery and ensured a flexible, fast, lean and responsive service to support Bacardi’s changing business needs. Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) best practices were used to increase the websites and applications’ stability and resilience and achieve accelerated time to market.
Regardless if consumers are settling in for a third lockdown period or ready to mask up and explore a store in person, between the online buying options and the newly-added store locator feature, shopping Bacardi’s brand has never been easier.
For those who have discovered their inner mixologists while at home — Bacardi has begun offering Cocktail Courier kits, which include all the items you need to make the sorts of cocktails you might typically only order at a bar. It simplifies cocktail making and elevates the at-home occasion much more than opening a beer or wine might. People want – and need – options, and with the support of EPAM experts, Bacardi is able to offer these sorts of ever-improving options right on its sites.
Your digital marketing platform has to follow suit when you’re looking to keep up with a rapidly and unpredictably evolving market. Using the newly revamped digital marketing technology ecosystem and DevOps automation provided by EPAM, Bacardi has been able to improve brand consistency, speed up time-to-market and deliver significant operational cost savings, all while allowing its digital marketing team to focus on what really matters – the needs of the consumer.
About the Author: Mr Harman is Co-Head, Global Business at EPAM Systems, focusing on a European book of business. Mr. Harman is also responsible for EPAM’s consumer portfolio in the region which includes clients in retail, CPG, travel and hospitality. Previously, Mr. Harman served as co-head of Global Business Development, where he was responsible for the acquisition of new clients in the European and APAC markets and expanding EPAM’s presence among existing clients. Mr. Harman directed EPAM sales, alliances, pre-sales and field marketing teams to achieve this goal.Mr. Harman has spent 18 years in Business Development roles in the digital services and software engineering space in both Europe and the US (leading Business Development and Alliances for West Coast operations of a digital consulting business) and over 10 years working with Central and Eastern European Technology Services companies.Mr. Harman is a Chemistry graduate of Kings College London.