and why the option is a wonderful solution
If you are a regular reader of my published writing you know that I am a fan of doing it different. I am a fan of pushing your brands to the independent retailer, a fan of selling into market with the market telling you how to price. I am a fan of picking 10 lighthouse accounts and focusing on them instead of 100 accounts. I am fan of tastings and activations that support your libation. I am not a fan of waiting for anything. Anything at all. We are in the sales business -where a maybe is a no and a “come back later” is a no thank you.
Because of all that I am fan of Third Party Logistics providers (3PL’s) and all that they represent. I remember at WSWA this past May where the floor was swimming with brands that were looking for distribution in the USA. I remember hearing tales and yarns of brands going to the SGWS, Break Thru, YMCO and other suites only to be filled with hope and optimism that they would be picked up. I heard stories of makers winning the awards and being coveted by Sr. VP’s from big distributors and being “on the way” to a national footprint. All that is true and all that happened. WSWA is a must attend event for any brand seeking to be in market.
That is what I remember. Now, here we are, about to start S-O-N-D 2018 and many of those same award winners and excited brands are still not signed into distribution and are still selling and delivering from the back of their 2014 Honda minivan. It is like Shark Tank; a deal on the show is not always a deal when the cameras stop rolling. The reality is that the process is long, hard and expensive and often do not achieve the results that are promised, hoped or desired to the maker.
Enter 3PL’s for your go to market needs. There are options here as we at BevStrat see it.
Players like MHW, Park Street are an all encompassing solution. Other web based players are a nice idea but are receiving push back in the market for the passing of logistics, warehousing and more back to the maker. That burden proves to be a lot for a single person operator and the challenge of retailer adoption is slowing down web based distributor growth.
Back to a more traditional 3PL and the benefits. Imagine a one stop shop for importing, compliance, warehousing and delivery and best of all, no barrier of entry. Any maker can sign up and be in a number of states virtually overnight. Aside from local compliance laws, it is just that simple. The main difference from a more traditional distribution method is that you are paying for services in an a la carte manor, and you still “own” your goods instead of being paid for them at distribution time.
So these are your choices. From a BevStrat perspective we work with them all, but when we get calls and emails from makers that seek distribution we always recommend easy and efficient over hard and difficult. Traditional distro is always going to be there and will be ready for you when the cases grow in volume, but until you get there you can still be selling. You can sign with MHW/ Park Street and others and be selling shortly thereafter. The rub with traditional distro is they want you when you are 5,000 cases, but you have to get there on your own. So 3PL is a very viable option.
No one will work as hard as you do on behalf of your brand, and we meet makers every single day that are passionate and strong willed towards success. You can do it fast or you can do it slow. You can do it now or you can do it later. There are options for the maker that can satisfy all your desires when it comes to bringing your brand to market. Know that you have options, and as long as you do not sign forever contracts, you can move your brand around as your sales increase and grow.