Next Glass Inc., the parent company of Wilmington-based Untappd, is adding another unit to its business model with a recent acquisition.
Last week, Next Glass acquired Vancouver, Canada-based Ollie Order, or Ollie, an omnichannel multi-tenant alcohol marketplace platform, according to a news release.
The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
As part of the acquisition, Ollie CEO Ryan Wilson will continue his role with Ollie, while also assuming the role of president of the newly established Next Glass Commerce division, stated the release.
Trace Smith, CEO of Next Glass, said Thursday that the company is excited for the new venture and prospects. The new unit will be a job creator for both the state and Wilmington.
With the acquisition of Ollie, Next Glass has grown to about 125 employees, with about 60 employees located in the Wilmington area.
“[Ollie is] growing very quickly. It’s the dominant player in British Columbia and we think the software and the team is best-in-class. And with that, we will bring that product south of the border, into the [United] States,” Smith said. “With the growth profile in British Columbia, we’re going to need people on our team in Wilmington that are looking for ways to grow and find new challenges to help with the rollout, as well as to grow the team in North Carolina to help with the growth of Ollie.”
Ollie facilitates transactions between buyers, logistics providers and suppliers in the beverage-alcohol industry, including the discovery of the latest craft products, fulfillment, accounting, inventory, payments, invoices, CRM and government reporting for B2B and B2C online and in-person commerce, stated the release.
"The alcohol industry has changed dramatically," Wilson said in the release. "What started with a handful of producers has grown to include thousands of smaller and mid-sized producers. The procurement process has not kept up. Ollie levels the playing field for everyone involved by making the ordering process universally simple, from the start-up to the largest national brands."
Ollie currently serves more than 300 brands and 2,000-plus buyers and brings additional capabilities to the Next Glass suite of product offerings, stated the release.
Ollie is now under the umbrella of the newly formed Next Glass Commerce unit, which also includes craft beverage technology solution Oznr, Smith said.
Atlanta-based Oznr was acquired by Next Glass last year
The company's other, Next Glass SAS Experiences and Services unit, includes other solutions: its flagship product Untappd for Business, the Untappd App, Untappd Live!, Hop Culture and BeerAdvocate, he said.
The commerce division is not only growing Next Glass into a new business space, but it’s also growing the company beyond beer to serve customers in the wine and spirits industries.
“While our roots are definitely in beer and our flagship Untappd for Business product, over a third of our Untappd for Business customers also use Untappd for Business to publish their wine and cocktails menus. And so many of our customers are already looking to us to provide a spirits and wine solution.
"We think that on the commerce side, as the lines continue to blur between beer, wine and spirits, the way that these producers – breweries, wineries and distilleries – do business, they're looking for an omnichannel solution that covers their DTC offering, their membership offerings, their B2B sales, taproom sales. They want one tool that manages all this rather than 10 different point solutions,” Smith said.
Next Glass officials believe that, in the future, the tools that serve the overall alcohol industry will look very much alike, he said.
In 2021, Next Glass and Ollie look to expanding into additional Canadian provinces, including Ontario, according to the release.
"We have served our customers with a platform built on a solid foundation and determined vision," Wilson said in the release. "We see this opportunity to join the Next Glass family as one that provides us global reach and access to hundreds of thousands of buyers and sellers in the industry. That reach and access will allow us to build, scale and reach new markets on an accelerated timeline."
Smith said Thursday that there is much work to be done on the new omnichannel solution through Ollie to get it ready for introduction nationally, in the United States. The company, however, is moving forward with development with a possible launch in the U.S. in the coming months.
Dozens of new hires will go along with the company’s growth nationally in the coming years, Smith said.
“We still have work to do to internationalize the offering but we feel like the product is most of the way there,” Smith said.
Next Glass has offices in Charlotte, Wilmington, Vancouver, Canada, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. The company also has a European office in Enschede, Netherlands.
“We think that this is going be a big job creator and are excited about the prospects for the future,” Smith said, “and what that means for the company long term and creating opportunities to employ really talented people in our home state.”