USATT interviews Michael Berkoff, CEO of BevMax, on what independent retailers are looking for small and medium-sized label owners when sourcing new brands.
What do independent retailers look for from new wine, beer and spirit suppliers?
From increasing consumer awareness to generating demand from the distribution tier, securing your labels' place on the retail shelves of important accounts can dramatically change the fortunes of your developing brands. USA Trade Tasting interviews Michael A Berkoff, CEO of BevMax, on what independent retailers are looking for from small and medium-sized label owners when sourcing new brands.
USATT: What's the most important thing suppliers should know when talking with new accounts?
Michael: "Understand my business." When calling on accounts, it's important to understand what kind of promotions we like to participate in, how and how often (or not at all) the account likes to be visited or contacted by their suppliers, what the customer profiles are for their different stores and how account specific supplier programs are developed.
USATT: That begs the question, how can suppliers go about doing that?
Michael: I think you need to break it down into what they can do themselves and what they need to do with their distributor. It's always important that suppliers work closely with their distributor to gain a better understanding of the accounts they are selling into.
The things suppliers can do themselves are: Sign up for our email newsletters; order through our ecomm sites; talk to us about our expectations when we establish our partnership, develop easily adaptable support programs that can be customized for different retail account profiles.
The things suppliers need to work through with their distributor are: Find out about promotional calendars and what type of features or promotions are preferred (ad support vs. discounting vs. couponing); what type of POS you should put up in stores; what type of info you need on the products for our websites (e.g. bottle photo, label photo, winemaker notes, food and wine pairings, drink recipes.)
USATT: What advice can you give suppliers looking to expand into new markets?
Michael: Understand that the US is comprised of fifty states, all with their own rules and regulations. Like every other state, Connecticut is unique. We're a franchise state. We have a lowest bottle price law. There has been a lot of attention paid to expanding retail sales hours. New big box stores like Total Wine are moving in.
These are the types of issues that I'm dealing with, for better or for worse, and my success hinges on my ability to successfully navigate them. You need to be aware of the market landscape. Every market has singular issues you'll need to address on a state-by-state basis. Don't expect your retailers and distributors to educate you on them. You should always do your research before you come to talk to us. Tell me how you are going to make my life easier and you'll be sure to get my attention!
USATT: What advice do you have for suppliers looking to generate business with new retailer accounts?
Michael: The bottom line is that this business is all about relationships. Take a long-term perspective and invest the time to understand our business. Respect our needs, sell your product all the way down the supply chain and work towards establishing long-lasting partnerships with your accounts. Inevitably, you'll earn premium shelf place across all of your markets.
USATT: Ultimately, what is one of the main factors that influences your decision to take on a new brand?
Michael: Recognize that if you or your distributor comes to me asking to put your brand on my shelves it means that I have to take another brand out. Often, it is one that I already know how well it sells. The better you can make a case for how your brand will provide value to me in terms of margin, frequency of purchase, driving new customers in or promoting my store (e.g. with a "where to buy" function on your website or Facebook page), the easier the decision will be for me to take on your brand. At USA Trade Tasting, Michael explained on how wine, beer and spirit brand reps can develop sales pitches guaranteed to increase your chances at successfully calling on new accounts.
More About USATT Keynote Speaker Michael Berkoff:
Michael Berkoff has over 35 years of experience in the liquor retail industry managing BevMax, a multi-store group with headquarters in Connecticut. He runs the Company’s day-to-day activities, directs National Operations, Purchasing, Pricing, Marketing and Advertising policies as well as supervises the Corporation’s long-term planning, the acquisition and disposition of running operations, real estate assessments and lease negotiations.
A fourth-generation retailer, Michael has been named one of the top ten market leaders and is a member of the elite Market Watch Magazine Leaders Alumni, which comprises the top 143 off-premise alcoholic beverage retailers. He has been the recipient of numerous industry awards and the subject of featured articles. Warehouse Wines and Liquors is consistently among the nation’s top 10 highest-grossing retail wine and liquor stores for stand-alone locations.
Are you also looking to grow your distribution in the USA?
USA Trade Tasting (USATT) is an annual adult beverage trade specialist trade tasting and business conference that promotes sustainable growth in the independent beverage industry by helping boutique wineries, craft breweries, craft distilleries, importers, distributors, retailers and beverage companies to learn, source and grow. Exhibit your brand at USA Trade Tasting (USATT) and get the attention of USA’s leading importers, important distributors, high-profile retail merchants, and influential media executives.
Beverage Trade Network USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.
Every year, the USATT Show brings together small and medium-sized importers, distributors, retailers and press professionals of the US wine, spirits and beer industry in New York City for 2 days of learning, buying and selling, networking and fun — all designed to help participants grow their bottom line.