Posted on | January 25, 2013
Written by | W.R. Tish
In the wild and wonderful Digital Age, it is often the simplest things that get lost in the flood of “content.” Given the scope of the Web, it’s all out there, but getting what you want when you want it can be a time-gobbling exercise in search-engine gymnastics.
With the express intent of streamlining the cluttered online universe of wine and spirits information, Pernod Ricard USA has launched probevsource—a website within a website that sets a new standard, not simply for information on one company’s portfolio, but also for the tools that distributors, retailers, bars and restaurants crave to make their business more efficient and profitable.
One click on the “gotoprobevsource” tab at the top of the revamped pernod-ricard-usa.com home page links directly to a well-organized, in-depth site that has just about anything a wine and spirits re-seller would want to access. Training resources. Product data and images. Management tools. Drink recipes. Even the latest industry news and category-specific trend reports. Simply put, probevsource is a 21st century solution to an age-old challenge of maximizing exactly the right trade assets to grow a specific business.
Filling a Clear Need
While probevsource is the result of two full years of meticulous development, its origins, quite fittingly, are rooted on the proverbial street. As Pernod Ricard USA Director of Field Communications Larry Richardson notes, the initial “Aha!” moment came when an on-premise account in Manhattan was having trouble finding an Absolut Citron bottle image. “As suppliers, we invest a great deal in developing sales tools, promotional materials and other resources. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been easy for the trade and even our distributor partners to easily access these resources when and how they are needed,” Richardson explains. “Way too much effort was going into sourcing product images, tag lines, product information, etc. To provide these and many other resources via a centralized open internet site seemed like a very timely idea.”
The needs of site users remained a constant focus through the site’s development, which was overseen by Nova Marketing. Nova Managing Partner Jeff Grindrod says that one of the keys in keeping probevsource totally trade-focused was making sure that the site accounted for the diversity of people and businesses that sell Pernod Ricard products. Their needs ranged from simple—what distinguishes bourbon from Scotch, how Champagne is made, the proper execution of classic Sidecar—to seriously complex, such as server training. In response, Pernod and Nova decided early on that to optimize the site’s functionality, probevsource needed to reach far beyond branded product information. Probevsource aims to be broader, deeper and more in tune with the reality of everyday operations, and in turn more valuable to individuals and businesses at every level of the trade, in every market.
All About the Trade
Googling a wine or spirit will often get you right to the brand’s website, but that’s going to be a consumer site. The probevsource difference is immediately apparent: it caters to the trade. The Training section, for instance, includes not only Pernod Ricard’s exclusive BarSmarts program, featuring Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich and other mixology experts, but also in-depth background at the PRUSA Wine & Spirits Academy and even a direct link to TIPS, a skills-based training program designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking and drunk driving.
The cocktail database has 1,000+ recipes searchable by brand, holiday, occasion, even channel (e.g, sports bar vs. nightclub vs. fine dining). With every recipe also tagged by difficulty and pictured to show proper glass and garnish, it may well be the most bartender-friendly drink resource on the Web. On- and off-premise managers alike can appreciate the library of image assets, featuring bottle images, logos, reviews and awards—plus scannable UPCs and bar codes as well as POS materials like shelf talkers. Another section, Business Tools & Solutions, includes a drink profit calculator, margin calculator and dozens of links to other sites, for operator/server/merchant education.
On top of the plethora of industry-specific tools, probevsource provides a wealth of content, most notably an original “Cocktail Culture” blog and extensive links to articles on category-specific and overall trends, as well as data-rich studies and management guides.
Sharing & Evolving
Not to be forgotten in the sheer scope of probevsource is the fact that the site never strays from its original purpose as a powerful trade resource. Historically, the wine and spirits trade has always enjoyed a tradition of suppliers supporting distributors supporting re-sellers; probevsource has made this chain that much more efficient. As Richardson points out, “Our distributor partners are very active in creating sales tools as well as developing the knowledge base of their employees and accounts. The probevsource site will offer them a gateway to brand assets and category information which can be accessed not only from their laptops but on the run via mobile devices.”
As is the case with all vibrant websites, probevsource is organized to be quickly navigated, and designed to be easily shared. But it’s also structured to evolve over time. “One of the great things about this tool is our ability to change it quickly based on user feedback,” says Richardson.
Richardson notes that plans are already in place to make the site more social-media-friendly: “We have a designated area of probevsource specifically designed to make that easier.”
The ultimate irony of probevsource may rest in its sheer user-friendliness. Deceptively simple at first glance, the site harbors a prodigious wealth of easily accessed information. And it may well get even simpler—future plans include giving users the option to customize the site, creating a home page tailored to their category preferences.
Even when that happens, though, one thing will remain just as it’s always been: the wine and spirits business is about relationships. Probevsource is essentially a 21st century expression of that truth, and Pernod Ricard is deservedly proud to be reinventing the way the wine and spirits trade works together. “We continually strive to set the standard for trade education, and to collaborate with our customers to develop mutually beneficial business solutions,” said Jack Shea, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Pernod Ricard USA.