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What Are Wine and Spirits Retailers Really Looking For?


Insights to importers and distributors on what US wine and spirits retailers are really looking for.

Michael Berkoff, CEO, BevMax - Wine and Spirits RetailersMichael Berkoff, CEO, BevMax[/caption] Michael A. Berkoff, CEO of BevMax and fourth-generation retailer gives insights to Importers and Distributors on what a US wine and spirits retailers like himself is really looking for. Berkoff, who has more than 35 years of experience in the liquor retail industry, runs the company’s day-to-day activities via its numerous departments.

USATT: What’s the most important thing distributor's should know when talking with new accounts?

Berkoff: 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: What advice can you give distributors looking to pitch a new brand.

Berkoff: Here are 4 main things that I am interested to hear from a distributor when they are pitching me a new brand. 1. Why do I need this product and where does it fit..what makes it different. 2. What sets that product apart from the competitors in that category or the niche. 3. What is the marketing plan that brand owners have and how will distributors support it along with the brand owner. 4. We are looking at what support is provided.

For example, in our store the most important thing for us is getting 'liquid to lips' and that is doing in-store tastings. If the above is met, we can at least consider and are willing to take the product into our stores and give the product a placement. Once that is done, we look at the product report and see how it moves over 30 days. As an example we are looking to sell 12 bottles in a month at the very least. If this does not happen, we need to replace the product and give a new brand the same chance. Distributors can join USATT's office hour sessions to continue the dialogue on how other distributors are supporting their wine and spirits retailers in new brand introductions.

More about Wholesaler's Office Hour Session: USATT's Office Hours sessions give you a chance to talk one-on-one with speakers and mentors. We bring in dozens of experts so you can get targeted advice on everything from sales and distribution to operations and management. As a wholesaler you will be able to learn effective techniques on pitching your portfolio to wine and spirits retailers.

Who: Office Hours are for Importers, Distributors, Retailers and Suppliers who want informed feedback on business ideas and challenges. Our mentors have real-world expertise in a range of topics.

What: There will be 4 sessions, each of an hour’s duration. If you are an importer, you are recommended to attend the Import business office hour session. If you are a distributor, you are recommended to attend the Distribution business office hour session and so on. Each session will have experts from your domain. For example The Distributor Office Hour session will have one expert from sales, one from management, one from legal and one from operations. This will allow you to ask questions ranging from sales to operations about your distribution business. Seats are limited to 200 people per session. You must pre-register and select your office hour sessions. . 

Set up: The set up is a mix of classroom and chair-only set up. Those who need to work on laptops may sit on the chairs that have desks with them.

What it’s not: 1) We’re committed to creating a lively learning atmosphere, and we require that all participants abide by our code of conduct. These conversations are fun, but Office Hours is not a speed-dating event. 2) It’s also not a pitching event; mentors appreciate your questions, not requests for taking your brand. 3) It's not one to one, you will be in a session room of 200 people and your questions will be open and in public. This is an open session where you will also benefit from other attendees’ questions.

Why: We’re excited to host this format as a way of helping you learn about solutions for real-world business problems and ask questions related to your business.

Event Producer: 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.