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What to look for in your distributors/suppliers?

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31/10/2023 Strategic Insights: Finding the Right Distributors and Suppliers in the Beverage Industry

Sid Patel: If you are a brand, here is what you should look for in your distributor. If you are a distributor, here is what you should look for in a wine, beer, or spirits supplier.

Sid Patel, CEO of Sommeliers Choice Awards and Beverage Trade Network has built a wine brand in the US market and worked with more than 50 state distributors. He also operated a wholesaler out of Delaware and understands how both sides work. Here is his take on what each party should look for:

“If a brand succeeds in the market, everyone will win. Everyone must continue to win for a brand to succeed at all times. That involves the consumer, retailer, distributors, importers and producers”, Sid Patel.

Things to look for in distributor:

  • Current Gap in Portfolio

  • Focus months/weeks your brand will get

  • KPI / Accountability. Minimum sales commitment

  • Chain Team and Authorizations

  • Current Accounts (active accounts)

  • Inventory levels

  • Reputation in the market

  • Key Accounts

  • Leadership

  • Payment Terms and History

  • No Sales Reps

  • Warehouse and Trucking Ownership vs Third-Party Structure

  • Competitive brands

  • Who are the top 5 suppliers and why?

When I was selling my wine, I checked this: 

  • Does a distributor have 3-4 big brands that a retailer must have?

  • Are sales reps happy, making money, and are consistent 

  • Do they own their own warehouse and trucks 

  • Number of active accounts. Weekly number of accounts delivery.

  • Payment history in paying and collecting. One of the most important metrics you should pay attention to.

When you are a young brand, you will say YES to anyone. But make sure you have credit forms and your payment terms are tight. Start small but get paid on time. Getting payments on time from retailer to distributor to supplier is a very good indicator of how your brand is performing.


Things to look for in supplier:

  • State count

  • Retail penetration of the brand per state

  • SKU count

  • Pallet configuration and minimum orders

  • Pick-up location and costs.

  • In Market Sales Rep

  • $ per case Support contribution

  • Case Volume Goal

  • Top-line advertising and awareness

  • Marketing budget

  • Supplier mindset on win: win

  • Access to chains

  • Point of sale and packaging mentality.

I was also a wholesaler and the suppliers that used to come to my market, sell a lot for us, and open new accounts for us were my preferred suppliers. Suppliers whose brands were selling at retail due to consumer awareness were also my preferred suppliers.

Feel free to DM me on Linkedin or Instagram if you need any help selecting an importer/distributor or even a supplier. Happy to see your partner and see if they can be a good fit.

A unique opportunity to present your wines to America's top sommeliers. The wine scores are benchmarked for on-premise channels by top sommeliers, master sommeliers, wine directors and restaurant wine buyers. Enter Your Wines Before January 31, 2024, To Save.