Using Business Intelligence for Brand Building and Long-Range Planning
Biltmore Wines is one of the businesses within The Biltmore Company, which includes the Biltmore Estate and Biltmore For Your Home, a Biltmore licensed home goods company. Biltmore Wines is a “grapes to glass” company that does the vast majority of its production from its winery in North Carolina; it also sources grapes from California. The wine company has both onsite wine sales, as well as off-site sales, which works through various distributors to ship wine to 20 states.
How Diver came to Biltmore
When Alisha Forester came to Biltmore Wines as national sales director she says, “I was used to having invoice driven data at my fingertips.” At the time, Biltmore didn’t have a data repository. The collection of depletion data was done by fax and typed into a spreadsheet. “I think the biggest problem that we were trying to overcome,” Forester says, “was how do we make intelligent business decisions with incomplete or nonexistent data?”
At the time, Biltmore was trying to move from being a smaller wine company to becoming a national brand. “We were making decisions based off of feelings and what we thought the data would say without really having the data, or we were just counting on our distributors to provide that information to us,” Forester says. “That was why we went looking for a business intelligence solution, and Dimensional Insight’s Diver Platform (Diver) really fit the bill.”
Biltmore is currently using InterReport, which is Diver offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. Forester says one of the biggest benefits of Diver is its ease of use. Another employee at Biltmore helped steer the company towards Diver because she was comfortable with the platform from a previous job experience.
How Diver is used at Biltmore
Diver allows Biltmore to keep all of its information in one place. It is the only place Biltmore has both shipments and depletions in the same system, and Forester says with that information in the same place, the company can better correlate the data. Biltmore Wines receives data from Beverage Data Network (BDN). BDN gathers product movement data from hundreds of distributors across the United States and allows suppliers to track the performance of their products. This data allows the company to make intelligent business decisions.
Biltmore uses Diver to track the budget and for analysis. The company looks at the trends for their products, trying to gain a better view into the wine that will be needed two to three years out, since that purchasing is done ahead of schedule. Biltmore uses Nielsen scan data in Diver to see whether the company is spending money wisely with its promotional activity or any kind of marketing activity. The company can also see if certain programs have provided the right return on investment.
Several of Biltmore’s distributors, including Mutual Distributing, also based in North Carolina, use Diver. Forester says this was helpful not only in Biltmore’s decision to work with Dimensional Insight, but also because it makes it very easy to collect data since the data lives in Diver in both companies. When setting up distributor information and making sure the information is collected correctly, Forester says it is much easier if the distributor is using Diver as well.
“It [Diver] gives us a better picture on what is selling and what isn’t. That way, we don’t have to try to sell everything to everybody, but can focus it down to a few key products.”
Using Diver for long-range planning
In addition to using Diver for sales reporting, Biltmore is using it for long-range planning so it can determine the right varietals to sell as well as the right channels through which to sell them. Diver allows the company to focus in on varying time frames, such as 6-month, 12-month, or 3-year trends.
“It gives us a better picture on what is selling and what isn’t,” says Forester. “That way, we don’t have to try to sell everything to everybody, but can focus it down to a few key products. For example, if there are three products that we’ve seen the best trends on in restaurant sales, then those are the three products we’re going to focus on for long-range planning.”
Forester says Diver, combined with the trends that Biltmore receives from Nielsen scan data, allows the company to see which products have fierce competition, and which ones dominate the market. “I like the ease of use. It’s very clear and I can check the data pretty easily—it gets me the information I need,” says Forester. “It’s priceless because we have the business data in one place and we can stay up to date with the trends.”
Moving forward with Diver
Diver will continue to factor into Biltmore’s future plans. Forester says the company is focused on increasing usage among its employees as well as better understanding all of the data Diver is giving them. She says the company is also planning to import even more data into Diver so it is all in one place.
“Diver is currently putting us in the right direction for our brand growth,” says Forester. “In the future, I’d like to grow our use of the product so we can better analyze sales on a daily basis and gain even deeper insights.”
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Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt and is the largest privately owned house in America sitting on 8,000 acres in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore Estate is home to the Biltmore Winery, which encompasses estate vineyards.
Asheville, North Carolina