Business Management

How Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska Took the Guesswork Out of Their Operation

July 28, 2020 | By Elyssa Steiner

How Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska Took the Guesswork Out of Their Operation

The Situation

In 2017, Tim Smith and the team at Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska knew that it was time to evaluate their technology, specifically their vending management software (VMS). Their business was growing at a rapid pace and managing that growth with inaccurate data, complex reporting systems, along with inefficiencies across their business were all the reasons why it became time for them to re-evaluate their systems.

“It just felt like the right time to evaluate our technology, to ensure we were using the most innovative and ahead of the curve platform for our business,” said Tim Smith, Regional Sales Manager. Thus, Coca Cola Bottling started on their search for a platform provider and partner who would help them better control costs, gain greater visibility into their operation, and ensure ease of use for their people to effectively manage the business with data.

The Obstacles

“Of course, our team was concerned about making a change, what operator isn’t, but the fear of change can’t be what holds you back, and we trusted in the USAT team to support us every step of the way,” said Tim Smith. Their journey began with the implementation of Seed Sync, which is Seed Pro’s seamless integration tool. The integration enables operators like Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska to quickly ramp up onto Seed Pro in order to leverage its dynamic scheduling feature, while still feeding data to and from their third-party VMS.

Often times, what is so appealing about leveraging Seed Sync to unlock Seed Pro is the ease of installation, which can happen in three simple steps:

  1. Install Seed Sync onto your VMS server/system
  2. Data starts transferring into Seed, including customers, items, assets, planograms, etc.
  3. Go live within 30-days, allowing Seed’s analytics to impact routes, schedules and pre-kitting efficiencies immediately.

“Initially we had some data clean-up to do so that we didn’t bring in garbage data into our Seed platform,” said Tim Smith. However, within 30-days they were able to start moving routes onto Seed Pro in order to start dynamically scheduling their machines.

The Solution

One of the best parts for Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska was the ability to move one route at a time when they were ready. “The transition was easy and at our own pace. We had our own dedicated CSM who helped us every step of the way, ensuring we had identified key benchmarks we wanted to obtain with Seed Pro, and in all cases meeting or exceeding those set out targets,” said Tim Smith. For Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska, it became apparent that they could start trusting in their data and this was a significant difference for Tim and his team. “With Seed we can trust all aspects of it, know the fills are being done appropriately, we’re able to capture pictures inside of Seed so we know what our machines look like, and know that the scheduling is accurate each time,” Tim explained.

“Before using Seed, we were averaging 15 machines per day per route, and after implementing we’re now servicing 22 machines per day per route – increasing our average by 50%,” said Tim Smith.

The Outcome

When any customer implements Seed Pro, a set of clear benchmarks are set between the customer and the CSM to ensure that the customer experiences clear business efficiencies post-implementation. Tim mentioned that all of their targets were either met or exceeded, and below are some additional outcomes of how Seed Pro was able to quickly help his team decrease operational costs and increase revenue.

  • 50% increase in machines serviced per day per route.
  • After implementing Seed Pro, they saw an instant increase in collections per visit.
  • They know exactly how many drivers they need each day, controlling their labor and operating costs.
  • With Seed, they have been able to make merchandising changes based on real-time sales trend data, creating increased revenue opportunities.
  • Real-time data enables them to project out accurate product orders to reduce spoilage and eliminate unnecessary product in the warehouse.
  • Accurate data has meant accurate pre-picks, ensuring their drivers come back with almost nothing in their trucks.

“We stepped away from always looking at cheaper solutions to instead looking for solutions that really met our needs, and we can’t imagine life in our business without Seed,” said Tim Smith.

COVID-19: The Adaptation

“When COVID started impacting our region, we were able to instantly adjust service schedules and leverage features inside of Seed to help us combine routes, create exception periods for efficient pre-kitting and servicing, along with use real-time product sales to adjust product orders,” said Jeremy Oaks, Cold Drink Manager at Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska. Jeremy manages the scheduling and ordering for their vending division and for him, being able to have full visibility into his locations, all remotely, was a life saver.

“In the beginning I was working from home for about 6 weeks, and was able to fully manage our routes, drivers, pre-picks, everything all from my home-office,” said Jeremy. For Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska, the biggest benefit beyond the flexibility to easily and dynamically adjust routes each day, was the accuracy and predictability of Seed’s purchase order feature. “The ability to project out and get our cost of goods in line with the actual sales occurring through COVID has been a big help to ensuring I control spoilage, but still have enough product to service my locations that are operating at full capacity,” Jeremy explained.

As a regional manager, Tim finds the user-friendly capabilities of Seed to be one of the biggest benefits to his entire organization. “We used to have to know coding to build reports or look at our data, now we can easily login, access pre-built reports or customize our own in Seed Spotlight – the information we want, and need is at our fingertips and it has made it far easier for us to ensure we are running a profitable business,” said Tim Smith.

“I can’t imagine navigating through COVID without Seed in our operations. It has truly taken the guesswork out of our business and we have gained full visibility into every route, every machine, every spiral – ensuring we run a profitable business for decades to come,” explained Tim Smith.

About Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska

Coca Cola Bottling of Alaska is a division of the Odom Corporation. The Odom Corporation operates in 5 states and is a family-owned business that distributes the best in brand-name beverages throughout Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Hawaii.


Elyssa Steiner

Chief Marketing Officer

Elyssa has over 10 years in the self-service retail industry and was among the first to be a part of launching the micro market concept into the vending channel. She is passionate about sharing both her knowledge in self-service retail and marketing with industry associations such as NAMA and Frost and Sullivan’s Marketing professionals.

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