Inside Brown-Forman's Global Expansion

Brown-Forman needed to re-think global consumer engagement.

The Brown-Forman Corporation is one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies, representing iconic brands including Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Korbel, and Chambord. These brands are rooted in multiple generations of craftmanship and traditions, and are available in 160 countries—so global sales are important. Historically, Brown-Forman sold their products exclusively through distributors and retail partners, but they wanted to make it easier for consumers and small businesses to engage with their brands, even if they couldn’t personally visit their distilleries.

They began their digital journey with the Jack Daniel’s brand in the UK. Brown-Forman wanted to ensure their new site reflected the brand’s 150 years of rich tradition to create a unique visitor experience. “Because it’s such an iconic brand, I think it’s really important that we consider [heritage] when we build the online experience—the eCommerce experience—so we don’t lose the whole reason why people identify with Jack Daniel's as a brand,” said Martin Hjalm, Director of Global eCommerce at Brown-Forman.

Working with the Magento Global Elite Solution Partner, Vaimo, the company built a content-rich, responsive site that allows them to perfectly blend storytelling with commerce, while offering products that cannot be found in stores: special vintages of whiskey, limited edition bottle, and gift bundles. The Magento Commerce webstore is fully-integrated with Magento Order Management including payment solutions, and offers features like personalized engraving on bottles of Jack. Meanwhile, the Magento Order Management multi-site and multi-brand functionality perfectly positioned the brand for easy expansions into Germany and Australia.

In the more traditional Australian market, the company focused on the Brown-Forman brand and modernizing the ordering experience for bar, club, and restaurant owners. The spirits market in Australia is closely regulated with a limited number of liquor licenses available. Competition for these orders is fierce. Customers were tired of placing orders the old-fashioned way: Sales reps would walk into a sports club and want to talk about football before finally taking the order. This took up far too much time for busy owners. They just wanted to place their orders using their mobile phone. 

"We wanted to modernize and simplify the ordering experience for bar, club, and restaurant owners in Australia. We needed to make it easy for our business customers to place orders when they wanted, on the device of their choice."

Dani Hepperlin

eCommerce & Digital Manager, Brown-Forman

A single platform for B2B and B2C.

Vaimo recommended Magento Commerce and Magento Order Management as part of a long-term digital transformation strategy. The Brown-Forman team in Australia leveraged learnings from their new consumer site in the UK, and used the same platform, adapting it to meet local requirements in Germany and Australia.

The Australian team focused on the ordering process, inventory management, payments and fulfillment – all optimized for mobile – making it easy for busy venue managers to reorder. The new site allowed Brown-Forman to connect with venues they couldn’t cover with their own salesforce or via wholesalers, increasing the volume and frequency of smaller venue purchases. Combined with tasting notes and other social media assets, these venues received everything they needed to promote Brown-Forman products. Brown-Forman Australia also offered a greater variety of inventory options, including prices per case and per bottle, which is helpful for smaller venues with limited storage and variable turnover. Now, when a bartender or manager runs out of Jack Daniel’s during a big game, they just reorder using their mobile phone. This was a total game changer.

As part of the B2B site launch, the Brown-Forman Australia team developed a “90 Venues in 90 days” campaign, which targeted the 30,000 hard-to-reach small businesses who typically purchase through retail. 

International expansion made easy.

Serving the needs of both consumers and small business buyers from the same platform enabled Brown-Forman to become more agile and efficient. The company recently launched another direct-to-consumer site in Germany, again, using the same Magento ecommerce platforms.

Magento Commerce and Magento Order Management allowed Brown-Forman to manage the entire process from one platform, integrated directly with their existing ERP system. International expansion is easy: New sites in different countries leverage the existing infrastructure while customizing the user experience to local needs, including local products, pricing, images, offers, and more. Meanwhile, Magento Order Management captures online orders, passes them to warehouse partners for fulfillment (which vary by country) and then along to the ERP system. And everyone gets their bottle of Jack.

By leveraging investments made globally, Brown-Forman can grow its brands locally. Consumers and businesses alike can engage with their brands and experience the craftsmanship and traditions for which their flagship brand, Jack Daniels, is known.

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