Diageo eyes ecommerce expansion with senior digital hire

Diageo is ramping up efforts to accelerate sales via ecommerce platforms in European markets with the appointment of Ralph Lauren’s Marco Preda as its first digital sales chief.

As the Guinness and Captain Morgan maker’s general manager for digital and ecommerce in Europe, Preda will be tasked with developing a “comprehensive digital presence” either using direct to customer platforms, or in partnership with grocery retailers and media owners.

The drinks giant is keen to further online capacity, unveiling a string of initiatives and plans over the last two years to try and exploit what it believes is an untapped opportunity to own the online experience and boost sales.

It is working with London-based technology provider Constant Commerce to explore how it lets its customers purchase its brands, such as Haig Club, directly from adverts  – a move that followed a 2012 deal with Amazon to launch a Smirnoff branded partnership for fans to purchase party items directly from featured videos.

It launched its first ecommerce platform in early 2013, Alexander & James, selling premium brands including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka as well as selected single malts.

Other alcohol brands are also trying to tap into this market. Earlier this year, AB InBev’s Leffe brand allowed consumers to purchase items from their preferred retailer via Leffe’s YouTube channel in a campaign promoting the beer’s ties to food.

John Kennedy, president of Diageo Europe says of Preda’s appointment: “We are constantly seeking new ways to innovate and to showcase and sell our brands in the most exciting, new, and convenient ways possible. The digital world opens up new opportunities for us and we are really excited about the role Marco will play in shaping the future of the company.”

The move chimes Diageo’s broader strategic aim of bridging the gap between sales and marketing.

Preda joins from Ralph Lauren where he was the senior director for ecommerce, business operations and strategic planning and is said to have launched the brand’s ecommerce platform across Europe.