Warehouse management and scanning solutions

Four Ways ERP Software Can Make Drinks Distributors, Indispensable.

Four Ways ERP Software Can Make Drinks Distributors, Indispensable.

Sometimes in business, profit doesn’t come from the deals or the data, it comes from the relationships. Being a retailer’s preferred drinks distributor can earn you better placement in-store, more frequent orders, or more marketing opportunities on the shelf – all of which could help you grow faster and build market share.


In this blog, we’ll explore four ways for distributors to earn the favour and long-term loyalty of the retailers they serve. We’ll touch on things like sales forecasting, promotions, and the supplementary services that can help ambitious distributors stand out from the crowd.

Some of a retailer’s year-round preoccupations will likely be which stock to order next, whether they can get hold of that stock, and how best to promote it to customers.

Your sales data will be your best friend when it comes to answering these fundamental stock management questions. Use it well to build trust and harmony in your distributor-retailer relationship.

1. Helping retailers with stock management

First, consider what a retailer’s account data tells you about them, and how you can use that information to provide timely and helpful advice.

Does their order history show they tend to restock a particular product at predictable intervals? If so, prompt them to reorder just before they normally do, pre-empting their needs and showing them you know their business.

Do they tend to order lots of stock from a certain product category at certain times of year? Let them know you’ve noticed, and offer your best advice and insight on how to strengthen sales in that category.

Simple insights like these, gleaned through your software distribution system, can expedite a retailer’s stock management and reduce their risk of understocking.

2. Ensuring supply can meet demand

Distributors may use order data spanning their full client base to pick out unique insights for each client, e.g. “We’ve noticed fruit ciders are selling well in your location. Here are our recommended products in that category, plus some guidance on how to sell this category more effectively than your competitors”.

Tailored stock management insights like the above can be created and delivered efficiently through linking order data from the distributor’s enterprise resource planning/sales management software to a client communication channel, such as email or in-app notifications.

But remember – retailers aren’t the only ones with stock to manage. As a distributor, you must ensure that your supply can meet demand. You can do so by comparing stock availability information from suppliers with previous-year sales data from clients. If it becomes evident that supply of a certain product cannot meet a retailer’s usual level of demand, you can notify the client in a timely fashion and suggest the best alternative product.

3. Using client case studies to point out effective promotions

Your clients could likely learn a lot from each other’s promotions, especially with regards to which products and promotion specifics work best according to the targeted demographic, location, retailer type and so on.

To that end, distributors should consider working with selected clients to produce case studies on the most successful promotions they’ve run using the distributor’s products. Through combining your own order data with sales data and an outline of the promotion strategy from the retailer, you can create a thorough, detailed case study that could prove highly valuable to other clients.

Once you’ve finished writing up a promotion case study, pass it on to businesses selling similar products or targeting a similar audience.

Check with the case study subject on whether they are happy for their business to be named, or they’d prefer to comment anonymously. Some will appreciate an incentive in exchange for their participation, such as exclusive early access to a new product, or a discount.


4. Adding value with supplementary services

The best distributors don’t just put drinks on the client’s shop shelf or in their cold room – they also provide wide-ranging insights and advice on how to sell those drinks like highly profitable hotcakes.

This supplementary offering will tend to vary according to client type. For instance, supermarkets and wholesalers generally benefit most from merchandising advice and planograms, which help them to identify the best way to display products or promotional materials in-store.

Meanwhile, restaurants typically require entirely different forms of support, such as menu engineering, which uses consumer research to create a drinks menu that encourages customers to select the most profitable products.

Distributor management best practices

Training and information can help retailers understand their products, keep stock in tip-top condition, serve customers knowledgeably, and ultimately sell more by earning repeat custom or upselling.

We advise distributors to take a rigorous approach to maintaining clear, concise product specs and information within their sales management systems, so clients can access the most important product knowledge at a glance.

Back that approach up with special training materials and support for new or complex products, and there you have a recipe for skilled-up, satisfied clients.


Distributors face ever-evolving challenges to their status as indispensable facilitators for retailers, not least the emerging plans of huge brands like Heineken to run and stock their own bars under a controlled distribution model 

Thank goodness, then, that by tapping into sales data to create retailer insight, adding value with supplementary services, and offering accessible product knowledge and training, you can give clients a great mix of reasons to stay invested in your relationship – whatever the future holds.