Selecting a Craft Beverage Distributor Part 2:  What to Look For in a Craft Wine Distributor

The second part in our series on selecting a distributor is focused on the wine segment.

Once you are ready to launch your wine, now what?

It’s time to start looking at how you will distribute that wine so it gets in front of your target customer in supermarkets and at restaurants. With so many distributors across the country, it’s difficult to know who will help you achieve your goals. Here’s a strategy for selecting the right distributor for your wine and business needs.

  1. Have a distribution objective

It’s important to define a quantitative distribution objective before looking for a distributor. That’s because different distributors handle specific quantities, so you want to find the ones that specialize in your case load.

Have a minimum quantity in mind so you can find a distributor to match that goal in terms of the number of sales reps they have that can effectively manage your case objective.

  1. Know where you want your wine to be seen 

To know how to pick the right distributor for your wine, you need to decide where you want to showcase your wine. For you, does that mean fine or casual restaurants? Is it a chain grocery or beverage store? Once you have pinpointed where you want to be, it’s easier to filter through available wine distributors and identify those with a footprint that aligns with your objectives.

  1. Understand how distributors work

It’s important to have a sense of the differences between distributors in terms of how their size impacts how they work with you. For example, large distributors will order a palate from you, but they expect you to handle sales. Be prepared to address the expectations of each distributor.

  1. Assess the financial stability of your targeted wine distribution company

You must be assured that the distributor you select is financially stable. That means making sure they can pay you on delivery of your wine cases. Their cash flow issues shouldn’t become your cash flow problems. To assess how a specific wine distribution company is doing financially, state upfront terms, such as 50% payment upfront and 50% on delivery.

  1. Look for opportunities for mutual benefit 

It’s important that everyone in the chain makes money, so price accordingly and select a distributor with a better margin in mind. Focusing on profitability for all means everyone stays happy — from the retailer to the distributor to your own company.

  1. Choose a distributor who is passionate about what they do

You need to know that the distributor is serious and driven to succeed at what they do because that will create positive results for your wine business. Their passion will show in how they merchandise your wine and how they interact with you as one of their accounts.

  1. Find alignment on all factors  

You will need to do the research to make sure a distributor works for you. That means going to that fine dining restaurant or beverage retailer to see what distributors are supplying those target markets.

While it may not make sense at first, you may even want to consider a beer distributor over a wine distributor for your wine. Find out in our next blog post.