How distilleries should manage distributor relationships

Distribution is essential to distillery brand growth.

Distribution generates revenue streams for suppliers of all sizes. It eats freight, staffing, collateral costs and more. But when distilleries fail to properly manage their distributor relationships, things can become a bit wishy-washy. Here are a few tips on how to manage these relationships:

18 wheeler driving down the road

Sustain product inventory. A lot of suppliers think distributors want volume. But realistically it’s sustainable inventory they want. Retail stores are in the business of keeping spirits stocked. So before distributors consider adding you to their supplier portfolio, they need to know that you will fulfill purchase orders. Too small? Then create a non-allocated policy and grow slowly. At least this way you can protect the relationships you have, establish a hell of a reputation and keep your brand from falling short of demands.

Maintain a clear agenda with realistic goals. Making false promises will break you in any industry. People want to know that you have what it takes to follow through. If you’re indecisive, then make distributors part of the process when establishing priorities and goals. Be clear, concise and upfront about what you want. When plans change, and they will, notify them immediately. No one likes to be left in the dark.

Stay visible and know your market. Larger distribution equals economic efficiency. However, if you rely on distributor sales reps to get your message accurate, then you may be in for a rude awakening. You are the expert of your brand. Always act like it. In order to be taken seriously, maintain account presence as much as possible. Not only does it make accounts feel special and build loyalty, but it also helps develop stronger partnerships with distributors.

Always remember that distribution companies have an abundance of daily supplier requests. Your relationship with them must prove mutually beneficial, and if you are a pain to deal with, then you will lose business.


Execuity is an unconventional marketing agency that is committed to helping clients achieve Total World Domination.

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