Part of our Customer Spotlight series, featuring brands on the Crisp platform and their growth stories.
A sweet alternative to sugar
RxSugar CEO Steve Hanley is on a mission to end sugar. After learning about its connection to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and discovering that sugar is added to 80% of all food and beverage products, he had an idea. If Steve could replace every gram of regular sugar with a healthy alternative, it would truly change the world.
Steve found that such an alternative exists in the form of allulose, a natural, plant-based sweetener with 90% fewer calories and minimal glycemic impact. When the FDA officially distinguished allulose from regular sugar in 2019, the former consultant and tech executive knew the time was ripe: he incorporated his new company, RxSugar, just days later. Fast forward just two years, and RxSugar’s line of keto and paleo-friendly sugars and syrups are now available in over 12,000 stores.
Keeping up with demand
When asked how RxSugar’s growth happened so quickly, Steve has a simple answer: “everyone says yes.” It turned out, retailers and shoppers were eager to replace sugar with a great-tasting alternative. So Steve’s real challenge was to source the allulose, which today is produced by only a small number of manufacturers. Addressing supply chain constraints required careful planning on Steve’s side as RxSugar brought on new stores every day.
RxSugar didn’t just take off at physical retail locations, but through 30+ e-commerce channels, multiple sellouts on QVC, and partners like Life Time Fitness, which uses RxSugar in all of its cafes. This is part of Steve’s omnichannel strategy, but it also means more to keep track of. Steve explains: “When you go omnichannel, you have disparate information sets: major distributors, direct channels, and all your online channels.” But having built Customer Relationship Management software earlier in his career, he also knew one thing to be true: “Inconsistency in the customer touchpoint is evil.” So he needed to organize all of RxSugar’s retail channels into a coherent strategy.
As a first step, Steve looked to bring together all of his retail data in one place. But he struggled to get data out of vendor portals from distributors and retailers. On top of that, he needed a way to aggregate the data sets and make connections between them to inform his overall supply chain strategy and production plans. As Steve says, “I needed to go from a sea of information to information I could see.” That’s when he heard about Crisp.
“We live in a supply constrained ecosystem, so the intimacy of insight provided by Crisp is vital…we’re now in a position to forecast and be way ahead with our supply chain.”Steve Hanley, CEO and Founder, RxSugar
Using data to deliver the goods
When he first learned about Crisp, Steve admits we “had him at hello.” The ability to automatically view aggregated data across distribution channels was exactly what he was looking for. Steve now opens up Crisp daily for insights to feed his business’ rapid expansion: “Every day I click on Crisp and all the information I need is there. It’s refreshed, it has a myriad of tools to drill into the data, and I can get an instant read into overall performance,” he says.
With updated top-line sales data, Steve’s team can accurately gauge demand to inform production and ordering of raw materials. As a result, RxSugar has gone from next-day ordering to 12-week lead times on materials and packaging. “We live in a supply constrained ecosystem, so the intimacy of insight provided by Crisp is vital to ensure that we are unwavering in our focus to optimize our omnichannel strategy. We’re now in a position to be able to forecast and be way ahead with our supply chain,” Steve explains.
The forecast shows plenty of growth ahead: just last month, RxSugar Chocolate Syrup was named Editor’s Pick for Best New Product by Progressive Grocer and the brand launched at Walmart in over 1,000 stores. To help their omnichannel strategy succeed, Steve and his team check Crisp to monitor sales, distribution, inventory, and voids across retail locations. Steve sums it up: “Once you’re on Crisp, there’s no way you want to leave it. It’s lifeblood at this point for a business.”