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How Pernod Ricard effectively built its eCommerce experience in China

Posted in E-commerce on October 2nd 2020

Pernod Ricard partnered with IT Consultis (ITC) to launch their e-commerce experience and enter the Chinese Direct-to-Consumer market. Pernod Ricard, a worldwide leader in wine and spirits, has built a unique portfolio with more than 350 premium international brands and over 85 direct affiliates. China represents one of its most important markets. Indeed, by generating revenues mostly through the distribution of its products via local partners, the Chinese market contributes largely to Pernod Ricard sales.

A need to develop an eCommerce experience in China

The group mainly used a B2B model, which relied essentially on distributors and different brands' presence on marketplaces, such as JD or T-mall. To sell their products directly to the end consumers and collect additional customer data, the company has decided to implement a Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) strategy and launched Drinks&Co.

ITC was proud to work jointly with Pernod Ricard to adapt and scale the brand’s current e-commerce infrastructure and better suit the Chinese online market. Magento, an Adobe company, was selected as the e-commerce platform to support and handle transactions of all channels. This decision was crucial to the success of this project.

An eCommerce platform built with Magento

The platform, called Drinks & Co, has been improved by ITC to be community-oriented with a unique UX/UI, fitting the latest Chinese audience expectations.  By using Magento, an Adobe solution, our teams built an impressive amount of features to serve the multiple Pernod Ricard business objectives. The ecosystem created is fully headless, interconnected globally and highly scalable. Besides its web version, the project leverages all the capabilities of the WeChat ecosystem, offering a WeChat Mini-Program version, a strong referral program, a membership program, and key functionalities that will ensure a strong conversion rate

In this constantly evolving e-commerce environment, Pernod Ricard has a digital asset that brings value to the Drinks&Co.’s community through the various buying journeys of their customers. The O2O e-commerce created can serve Drinks&Co.’s Social Commerce on WeChat, its pop-up stores, its new bars’ openings, and later on, Douyin and other interactive social channels, once they become as open as WeChat in terms of APIs integrations. Adobe Magento is clearly a leading solution in terms of versatility, scalability, security and quality.

Building a Chinese eCommerce Experience Comes with Challenges 

To boost its brand equity and gain new customers in China, Pernod Ricard created its Drinks&Co. community. However, the company had to overcome several challenges when introducing Drinks&Co.'s e-commerce platform to China. 

The first important issue was compatibility problems of their global architecture (ERP, CRM, logistics systems, etc.) and its implementation in China due to the great firewall. As such, some orders were missing or doubled and Pernod Ricard was suffering from data losses. 

The second obstacle was that the user experience and interface had to be adapted to Chinese customers' online expectations in terms of functionality and design. Hence, the website needed a revamp in terms of UX/UI and the e-commerce experience had to be connected with WeChat Mini-Program and the Tencent ecosystem in general.

Check here the video of the Drinks & Co. Mini Program. 

Finally, the Chinese platform had to align with Pernod Ricard's global IT policy while respecting the local Chinese regulations.

The eCommerce Experience ITC Developed for Pernod Ricard

Alongside Pernod Ricard’s team of experts, ITC helped to design a comprehensive action plan to kickstart the brand's growth and success in China. The ultimate objective of this collaboration was to create a seamless user experience, a fast and efficient platform and provide an optimal purchase process to Drinks&Co.’s customers. 

Consulting Mission 

Pernod Ricard collaborated with ITC to identify bottlenecks in existing source code and architecture. Once blockers had been identified, thoughtful recommendations were provided to achieve the greatest outcome. 

Customer Data Strategy

IT Consultis recommended the use of a headless architecture for an omnichannel approach. Having one back-end connected through several separate front-ends enables Drinks&Co to build a consistent experience for its users through multiple touch points. Hence, the e-commerce platform was highly scalable and could be duplicated through a WeChat Mini-Program, an app, social campaigns, etc. Meanwhile, we made sure that customer data was collected in a single place, creating a single 360° customer view. The ecosystem has largely been improved for the brand to be fully able to rely on its data reports again. 

Full Revamp UX/UI Design

ITC performed a design and a front-end revamp of Drinks&Co.'s platform in China. As previously stated, the main goal was to have a tailored UX/UI that completely fits Chinese customers' habits and expectations. The design had to be visually appealing and the platform needed to offer a convenient and smooth navigation. 

Check here the video of the Mobile Website.

General features to perform a successful eCommerce experience in China

With those objectives in mind, Pernod Ricard and ITC designed and implemented a whole user journey process together: from the registration to the check-out page, going through product browsing, management of the shopping cart, payment options (Alipay, WeChat Pay, etc.), invoice/fapiao requests, order trackings, and ratings. In addition to the implementation of those features, our collaboration even went beyond expectations by offering a fully customized experience that suits perfectly the Chinese market. For example, users can easily log in with their WeChat account or phone number and the experience was personalized according to the various categories of users (displaying different prices, quota, MOQ, etc.). ITC also managed to facilitate user experience by making the check-out process way more convenient and user-friendly. For instance, customers were able to easily review selected products with an order summary and payment/shipping options displayed on the side.

eCommerce features developed by ITC for Pernod Ricard

Besides the necessary localizations in terms of e-commerce, Drinks&Co. offers community-oriented services such as an incredible library of cocktail recipes with interactive tutorials and, of course, relevant Pernod Ricard products recommendations. The solution offers a referral program, promotions, coupons, limited editions and is designed from Day 1 to fit Social Commerce’s best practices. ITC also helped to implement other improvements such as gift card display, chatbot support, refunds and many other functionalities.

ITC designed a homepage reflecting on the company's dynamic and vibrant spirit. To increase engagement, high-end designs with colorful pictures were created to make each single product stand out, cocktail recipes and promotional content are also displayed to increase the conversion rate alongside inspiring articles promoting the company's values that are regularly posted. 

Development Process and Advanced Improvements

The development of Pernod Ricard's e-commerce platform in China went through several key stages, enabling the global architecture to be tested all along. 

  • Phase 1 : Internal Sales

During this stage, only Pernod Ricard’s employees could place orders.

  • Phase 2 : Family & Friends

At this phase, employees’ family and friends were also welcomed and could benefit from special discounts.

  • Phase 3: External Sales

With all the insights collected from the previous stages, Pernod Ricard and ITC optimized the e-commerce website by testing its performance during peak periods to prevent potential complications. Drinks&Co. was released to the general public at the end of this phase.

  • Phase 4 : WeChat Mini program

The headless architecture developed by ITC was then used to create a WeChat Mini-Program. ITC delivered a new touchpoint at minimum cost and effort. 

  • Phase 5 : Pop-up Store & O2O Strategy

During 6 months, a pop-up store with its own WeChat Mini-Program was available for customers to purchase online and pick the products directly from the store. The project was created by using the same Magento back-office applied to a specific front-end. Thanks to this strategy, we were able to harmonize the online and offline experience and provide the customer with the best experience possible

The Words of the Project Developer: Tijs

“Pernod Ricard is a great and challenging project because of its scale and complexity. Working together with the Pernod Ricard team in adapting a global brand to the uniqueness of the Chinese market was very rewarding and fun. I'm particularly proud of how we integrated their physical store into the existing Magento infrastructure, and at the same time, created a WeChat Mini-Program that could be used to scan QR codes on products in this store. This perfectly illustrates how different sales channels we have at our disposal in China could be used together to provide a seamless experience for the customer.”

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