Coca-Cola Africa has always been lauded for its excellent distribution strategy, somewhere in a rural village where even a government road infrastructure has not penetrated, you will see Soda Baridi shops selling its beverages. These are the informal trade channels and according to the International Labor Organization, more than 60 percent of the world’s employed population earn their livelihoods from these kinds of informal economies. ILO attributes that to lack of opportunities in the formal economy and absence of other means of livelihood. The majority of non-alcoholic ready to drink beverages in these markets are sold through informal retailers, making it challenging for many manufacturers, including Coca-Cola Africa, to obtain insights into the performance of their products using actual real-time data.
As a result, Coca Cola Africa has partnered with Disrupt Africa to launch a startup challenge aimed at identifying tech-based solutions for measuring the performance of its products in markets largely dominated by the informal trade. Dubbed “Tracking Revolution Challenge”, the project will see Disrupt Africa source startups from across the continent and give them the chance to pitch in front of Coca-Cola executives for the opportunity of securing a pilot project with the company.
“Modern trade such as hypermarkets and supermarkets are relatively simple to track as information is collected via the scanning methodology at tills,” said Njabu Hlanze, business insights manager at Coca-Cola Africa.
“However, the majority of our products move through informal trade channels, and due to the nature of retail tracking – non-scanning and the use of manual auditing – coverage of this channel is not particularly as robust as we would need it to be. On-Premise traders such as restaurants, bars, and cafes also move a sizeable amount of our products, also making it a key channel of interest for us,” she added.
Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, Coca-Cola Africa covers Southern Africa, East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The company has prioritized the testing of new end-to-end solutions that provide deeper insights into the performance of its brands and competitors. The Tracking Revolution Challenge is open to startups from across the continent and seeks innovative, faster, cheaper, and more accurate methods to track retail dynamics.
“Our tracking methods currently are captured at the channel phase of the product journey. However, our beverages are also heavily consumed away from home. Thus, the most holistic way of tracking which would be ideal to us would be to also capture the next part of the product journey – from the consumer and ideally as soon as possible from the purchasing moment as this would eliminate “claimed” volumes to actual volumes,” Hlanze said.
Key metrics Coca-Cola Africa is looking to track include price, volume sales, value sales, distribution, pack type, geography, and channel type. Executional metrics would also be of interest. The challenge is primarily focused on the Kenyan market, however, scalability into the rest of the African market would also be beneficial.
Winning startups, which will be given the opportunity to work with Coca-Cola Africa on trialing their end-to-end solutions, will be the ones that best track sell-out sales of a total basket of goods and key metrics in these informal or on-premise channels, track “away from home” consumption of beverages in real-time, or both.
Applications are open here until July 21. Selected startups will be invited to pitch their solutions to Coca-Cola Africa (Proprietary) Limited executives shortly thereafter.