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Obviously there is a month plus left on the calendar. Seriously, my Aunt has not even fumbled through Thanksgiving dinner yet. My Sister has not sat across the table yet and complained about everything under the sun while sipping Rosé and eating Pumpkin pie. Those previous two activities are reserved for Thanksgiving dinner and thus the year cannot be over! Can it?

I was a retail buyer for decades. My father pounded the dates into my head so often that I recite them in my sleep. He would say, “if it ain’t on the shelf now, it ain’t gonna be!” Grammatical failures aside, he was 100% correct. Whether the buyer hails from Costco, Bill’s Chicken and Wine, or Astor Street Wines, the adage is true. The hope of a supplier now, needs to be pinned on re-orders, the rare new shelf placement, and planning 2018!

I was cut off from buying this time of year as the bills would come due between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and that was a cash preservation time. I was cut off from buying this time of year as the focus was on selling existing inventory and ending the year with little mass stock left. I was cut off from buying as the money we spent now was on bills generated from the week before Halloween last month.

This is our business! The management of inventory and cash flow is what separates the winners in the game like Stew Leonard’s and the rest of us. The management of inventory, cash flow and sales trends will leave a long and lasting effect during the first quarter of 2018. The real quagmire comes from the retailers’ desire to turn off the purchasing now and the suppliers desperate need for cases. The deals will be amazing now and only get better. It does not matter if you are Yellow Tail or some organic, non GMO, French wheat vodka- everyone needs cases. That is why BevStrat exists.

With all that said, and that was a lot of downer parable, the reality is that today thru EOY has a ton of value. Showing the brand, talking up the account, visiting the friend in the business will pay dividends when the purchasing opens back up. If your account is not “on the list,” then they will be back to buying mid January en masse. We find considerable value in this time of year. Look, I run sales teams all over America and this is a frustrating 41 days or so. We find that plugging away until NYE 2017 is a smart and aggressive move setting up 2018.

Don’t be discouraged. The accounts are all about selling now. They will be replenishing existing SKU’s and filling orders. There is always space for closeouts and disco’d items as the account will want high margin goods for gifts, special orders and dumps. Careful not to ruin the brand with major reductions now that will have a long tail from a pricing perspective. You can always lower pricing, you cannot always raise it.

So is the year over for suppliers? Just about, yes. Is that discouraging? Yes! If you have read me before, I play the long game, like triple overtime. Brands are not built now, they are built over time, ask Tito! Getting cases sold is not building a brand. Knowing the difference will elongate the year for all and garner success long after the gravy and stuffing becomes cold.

Brian RosenThree Tier Talk
by Brian Rosen, www.BevStrat.com

Brian Rosen is Former CEO of America’s #1 Retailer, Sam’s Wines in Chicago, Former Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Retail and sought after retailer consultant.

He can be reached at @rosenretail or brian@briandrosen.com

More information and articles by Brian Rosen

 
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