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Tampa company uses technology to help beverage alcohol suppliers know more about their customers

Margie Manning

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Photo credit: Creative Commons

A Tampa technology company with an ecommerce beverage alcohol store is combining the convenience of online ordering with the power of data.

Bridge — the new name for the company previously known as Proof Network Ventures — is creating a way for suppliers and retailers to know more about the consumers who buy their products, said Alex Miningham, CEO.

Alex Miningham

The new name is part of a rebranding for the company, which also is launching a new website and an enhanced suite of products. The company has completed a $1.4 million convertible note funding round and is in the middle of another capital raise, with details about the new funding expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Bridge is a member of Embarc Collective, the downtown Tampa startup hub, and Miningham was one of Embarc’s featured founders earlier this year.

The company’s new name is designed to convey exactly what it does for the beverage alcohol industry.

“Our services and our technology in particular bridges the gap between the supplier tier and ultimately the consumer through data and technology,” Miningham told the St. Pete Catalyst.

That bridge is needed because there’s a three-tier system for the beverage alcohol industry in the United States that restricts communication between all the players in the industry.

“The restrictive and federally mandated three-tier system prevents a supplier from selling their products directly to a retailer. A supplier like Bacardi must sell their products to a wholesaler or a distributor, like a Southern Wine and Spirits, then Southern Wine and Spirits has to sell their products to a retailer, like Total Wine or ABC. Because of that fragmented process, the supplier only has visibility into the products they sell to their distributor partners. They have no idea what the end consumer is actually purchasing and because they do not have access to that purchase data they’re unable to generate insights they can use to more accurately target and advertise to the end consumers,” Miningham said. “Our technology captures that end consumer purchase data. We turn it into insights and then we share it back upstream to suppliers, so they can make more informed business decisions.”

The business is divided into two parts.

One part is Bridge Retail, an ecommerce platform that Miningham said is similar to Shopify, and with the capability of handling large amounts of SKUs (stockkeeping units) with deep product content.

“Think about using Amazon on your phone,” he said. “We create ecommerce stores for local liquor stores. We put all their products they sell in-store on this mobile and web application. It allows people like you and I to go to their website and purchase products while sitting on the couch. We can schedule them for delivery or shipped to our doorstep, in jurisdictions that allow that. We can browse products, research products, or schedule an in-store or curbside pickup if the retailers provide that service.”

The company boosted its ecommerce abilities earlier this year when it acquired Drync, a private label mobile app developer for beverage alcohol retailers. The acquisition tripled its retail presence, Miningham said.

Bridge Retail feeds data to Bridge Intelligence, a Software-as-a-Service platform for suppliers.

“They can access real-time analytics and insights on how their products are performing in certain markets, and also they can create custom audience segments from our transactional data, and they can activate that across demand-side advertising platforms,” Miningham said. “We’re one of the only companies in the industry that aggregates all of that really valuable consumer data and we help suppliers turn that into custom audience segments that they can use to target people on social media and other digital mediums.”

Bridge has about a dozen full-time employees, most of whom work remotely. The company has been adding staff on the Bridge Intelligence side, to build out the analytics and audience segmentation platform, and has taken its foot off of the client acquisition pedal to focus on product development, Miningham said.

The rebrand takes effect Nov. 1. “Q4 will be super busy for us as we transition all of our retailer clients onto the new ecommerce platform, and then start on-boarding supplier partners onto the  intelligence platform,” he said.

Bridge will be offering the basic version of its web-based ecommerce platform free of charge to retailers, and its intelligence platform will be available to brands under a monthly subscription model, a news release said.

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