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5 Problems Distributors Face With Their Suppliers

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13/11/2019 Find out what problems distributors face with their suppliers and learn how to work around them.

We all know that the distributor is one of the most important parts of the supply chain. Due to the three-tier system of alcohol distribution in the US, it’s impossible to surpass the distributor and get your wines into restaurants and stores. So, without the distributor, your wine wouldn’t be able to make it where and how you want it to.

Working with distributors is something that you, as a supplier, need to be very careful about. There are a lot of things that the distributor might need from you, and you are going to have to work closely with the distributor and their sales reps most of the time. So it’s very important to keep the distributor on your good side, like building relationships with the distributor, knowing what goes on during Friday meetings at the distributors’, and most of all, knowing the problems that distributors face with their suppliers - so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Here are 5 problems distributors face with their suppliers, and tips on how to not be one of those suppliers that the distributor has problems with.

1. Working with suppliers that aren’t educated

The one thing distributors detest while working is working with suppliers who aren’t educated about the market. Suppliers who don’t really know their target audience, who don’t know where they want their wines to go and suppliers who don’t really know what’s happening in the market are people distributors don’t want to work with. So to keep your distributor on your good side, make sure you’re fully educated about the market, especially regarding your wine. If you have a Merlot, then make sure you find out everything about the Merlot market. This includes knowing the demand for Merlot, knowing your target audience, finding out which restaurants, stores, bars, and supermarkets are selling the most Merlot. This way you will be able to connect with your distributor, and your distributor will also see that you have a clear picture of the market of your wine.

2. Suppliers that don’t understand their customers

One of the most important things for a supplier to focus on is understanding their customers. If you don’t understand who your customers are and what they want, then you will not be on the distributor’s good side, and your wine will most likely not do well either. Distributors dislike working with suppliers who don’t understand their customers. For example, if the distributor creates an account for you in Olive Garden, and you decide to stop supplying thereafter let’s say one case - that’s not going to work for the distributor. Distributors set accounts that usually require constant supply, so you need to understand the customers and accounts that you are supplying for, or else you’re going to have problems with your distributor.

3. Aggressiveness

Distributors hate and let us emphasize the word hate suppliers who are aggressive. A lot of suppliers tend to bother distributors over and over again, they tend to meddle in the distributor’s work process, and distributors don’t like that at all. Imagine someone meddling in your business all the time, especially when you know what’s best. Don’t you like it do you? Similarly, distributors hate it too. The best thing to do is to give your distributor space. Yes, of course, you want weekly updates - but keep those updates to once a week ONLY. Don’t disturb the distributor by calling and spamming them with emails over and over again.

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4. Price controlling suppliers

If you’re someone who controls the distributor’s pricing, then the distributor is definitely not going to be warm towards you. Distributors are in the game to make money, and they know their accounts and how to set price points for each of their accounts. If you interfere and control the distributor’s pricing, then that irritates the distributor. Keep in mind that the distributor knows the accounts the best, so the best thing for you to do is, give your pricing to the distributor and let them take care of the rest (at least pricing wise).

5. Bad supplier-sales rep relationships

Don’t forget that the sales rep is one of the most important people in the distribution chain. Your sales rep is the person who is going to market your wine outside and actually sell to accounts.  Having a messy relationship with the sales rep means having a messy relationship with the distributor. Yes, of course, the distributor always encourages suppliers who help out with the marketing and programming, but what they don’t appreciate is going around the sales rep and distributor and doing things on the other side. If you have any plans or strategies, it’s best for you to sit down with the sales rep and talk through it. You can come up with a plan with your ideas and their programs, and things will work smoothly.

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