The popularity of the craft brewery continues to grow, year over year. There are currently more than 7300 regional breweries, brewpubs and microbreweries in the United States. For many home brewers and beer aficionados, the prospect of owning and operating their own brewery would be a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to expand their personal recipes that they have refined over the years as a hobbyist and share them with a wider audience. Similarly, there has also been a steady increase in popularity across both wineries and distilleries. Today, there are more than 7700 wineries throughout the country, a figure that can be attributed to both the frequency of Americans dining out and pairing wine with their meals, as well as how millennials have embraced wine over the last several years. Additionally, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, distillery supplier sales have increased 4.5% to $25.2 billion in 2016, a market share gain realized seven years in a row.
Making your mark within an industry that continues to explode is not an easy thing to accomplish. Perfecting your craft is an important start in staying relevant. But satisfying your regulars and marketing through word of mouth is just the beginning. It’s the additional, day-to-day business details that become so incredibly important. Maintaining your brand and ensuring that it reaches the widest audience possible will help you to stand out in a crowded market. Having the tools and resources to assist in this process is essential.
BRAND IDENTITY & COMPREHENSIVE SOURCING One of the benefits of owning and operating your own business is the freedom associated with developing your brand. From the name to the logo, this is an opportunity for you to work closely with your business partners to establish something catchy and unique, while also cutting through the clutter and staying top of mind with your customers. But once you’ve picked out your colors and have come up with a memorable catch phrase that highlights your craft, what’s next?
In today’s market it’s not uncommon to promote your brand through a variety of related products. Whether that’s pint glasses and coasters, umbrellas, signage or an oversized Jenga set reserved for outdoor events, merchandising your business in creative and classy ways is critical. But there are numerous moving parts that inevitably get in the way. Working with your local Kinkos and your cousin (twice removed) to help with the graphical design will only get you so far.
Working closely with a partner capable of assisting with the delivery of your products – through direct access to an extensive network of domestic and global suppliers – can make an immense difference in your day-to-day operation. Understanding the ins-and-outs of product sourcing often includes first-hand experience in knowing what works and what does not. These conversations can help steer you in the right direction, while also shielding you from previous missteps. Promoting your unique brand with a Point of Sale (POS) system capable of delivering the best return on investment (ROI) in a crowded market will help you to realize even greater success.
E-COMMERCE AND ACCURATE REPORTING Having access to your own, business-specific e-commerce website is an opportunity to more effectively manage your growing list of products. When conveniently organized by category, a robust e-commerce solution may yield an increase in the number of orders placed. By providing your sales group, wholesalers and consumers 24/7 virtual access to your products, you’re removing yourself from the time-consuming difficulties and headaches of manual maintenance and upkeep. An effective e-commerce portal is not only a reliable source for managing your inventory in an organized fashion, it can also be seamlessly updated to accommodate for new products and inventive promotional efforts. Including pre-order windows and making them available to your distributors will help to better gauge the potential success of your latest product promotions before taking the plunge and jumping head first into a new initiative.
Having access to online ordering is a great resource to take advantage of when working toward upcoming events. Providing your distributors access to your ecommerce site makes the process of managing and expanding your brand a seamless activity. However, maintaining your inventory and shipment data can often be challenging. Having access to and working from a comprehensive and reliable report – one that details the data needed to drive a successful program – saves time and increases productivity, allowing you to focus more on your craft. Accessing these reports, whenever needed, makes the process of future inventory planning and promotional efforts even easier and more sustainable.
INVENTORY OPTIMIZATION Space is a commodity. You’ll never have enough and will always be needing more. When owning and operating your craft brewery, winery or distillery, you’ll quickly realize that as more of your space is consumed by branded merchandise, less will be available for that essential, behind-the-scenes equipment – brewing systems, canning lines, tanks, fermenters and more. Working with a total fulfillment partner opens up the possibility of maintaining and safely storing your merchandise stock. At its core, inventory optimization and supply planning answers the question about how much merchandising inventory should be carried. Working with your fulfillment partner, you’ll be able to better understand the complexities of supply and demand and more accurately identify inventory targets. By maintaining appropriate levels of merchandising stock you’ll greatly reduce the chances of inventory obsolescence, thereby freeing up capital that can be applied elsewhere throughout your business. Fulfillment partners often include consignment opportunities, giving you the option to store your products offsite while still retaining ownership. As the products begin to ship, you’ll be able to track how much inventory sold and work closely with your fulfillment provider on the transactional details.
When tied directly with your unique e-commerce platform you’ll have even greater flexibility and control over the number of products sold, understand when and how they have shipped and be able to effectively report – from week-to-week and month-to-month – for better management of your business’s overall expenses and profits. Pre-orders are also designed to increase profitability. Utilizing your fulfillment partner’s expertise in identifying products that are best suited to both order windows and the make and-ship process, you’ll capitalize on an effective solution to the POS puzzle. This pre-order option provides greater overall flexibility when planning for upcoming events and seasonal placement.
DEDICATED SUPPORT Whether it’s the account manager, sourcing, logistics or warehouse, the various touchpoints of a fulfillment team are dedicated to providing you the support needed to effectively operate your business. Their focus is helping you maintain yours. In doing so, you’ll have greater opportunities to further pursue your passion. A committed support team should be analyzing your POS operations on a quarterly, bi-annual and annual basis, and provide feedback to assist with any changes that may be needed. Their long-standing relationships within the industry are designed to support your needs and ensure that your business realizes continued success. Your merchandising efforts are directly connected to establishing your brand and helping your business thrive in an increasingly competitive market. Aligning yourself with a reputable fulfillment program will assist you in meeting the goals you have established for your business. When done well, your brand will realize the greatest potential to reach more customers and leave lasting impressions.
To contact Lewis and his team, please send us a message. Want to download this piece? Get it here. Read more insights from Lewis on growing your craft beer or craft spirits brand in Beverage Master magazine.