Selecting a Craft Beverage Distributor Part 1: Things to Consider

In Part 1 of our blog series on selecting a distributor to work with in the craft beverage industry, we look at the factors that should be considered before diving into a partnership.

Level of Commitment

It’s important to work with a distributor that is committed to the craft beverage industry and shows signs of success and growth within the industry. At the same time, you don’t want to work with a distributor that just works with any craft beverage maker that appears in the market. There should be some selectivity and standards in place.

Other signs of commitment include a dedicated craft manager, ongoing sales staff training on developments in the craft segment, and a track record of long relationships with the craft brands in their portfolio.s staff. They should

Excellent Sales Execution

You can tell a lot about a distributor’s sales planning by looking at their execution and results. They should have specific plans, budget, and time frame in place with measurable goals that they are willing to share.

You will also want to work with a distributor that allows craft brands to come to their sales meetings and interact with sales also be committed to in-store sampling programs, significant merchandising for chain accounts, and a positive relationship with retailers. A good distributor should also know what the competition is doing and include a strategy in their planning that addresses that.

Craft Brand Awareness

It’s important that the distributor be working on your behalf. That means they need to show how they promote craft brands in key target markets, including education events, website information, and emails to specific retailers.

A good distributor will also have your back when it comes to franchise law reform, draft quality for transport and storage, and sufficient sales reps for your key territories.

Culture Alignment

Finally, you want to make sure that the distributor shares the same values and cultural guidelines. This includes ensuring they work ethically with both their supplier partners and retailers. The ideal distributor also can prove that their values match yours in terms of sustainability, community support, equity, and diversity.

While these are overriding factors that work for all types of craft beverage makers, there are also other things to look out for when you are in a specific segment. Our next blog in this series looks at how to select a distributor for your craft wine.