Cider Corner: 3 Things to Ponder While Choosing a Distributor

Moving out of your tasting room and working with a wholesaler can include a lot of forward-thinking to ensure that you are making the right choice.

For High Limb Cider, the right wholesaler had to show a passion for not just their business but yours, explained the cidery’s Sales Manager, John Croteau. She added that a good wholesaler should be able to lay out an initial plan for your company’s distribution.

“Along with this plan, the right distributor will allow you time with their team. This will allow them and you to build relationships outside the office,” he said. “They will learn from you and you’ll learn from them. The right distributor will agree to your vision and plan for growth.

“The right distributor will agree to meet regularly to ensure team and brand success. They will also represent your brand professionally at all retail activities.”

READ MORE: Cider Corner: The Move to Self Distribution

Ask Questions. Lots of Questions

In Georgia, UrbanTree Cidery met with about 15 different distributors before making a change and co-owner Jackie Annise said they are all very different. That means asking questions to get the info you need to make your best decision.

Who focuses just on craft beverages? Which companies sell locally or state-wide? Do they sell all alcohol categories versus just beer? Do they sell national and/or local competitors to your brand? Who picks up product from suppliers? What is the size of their sales and chain teams?

“Sorting through which items are important to you and your business, then finding the right distribution team that fits your needs is how we approached and chose our distribution partners,” she said. 

Do Your Own Research

Croteau added that you may also want to speak to retailers in the market, both on- and off-premise, to get their opinion on the distributor as well to help give yourself a more well-rounded opinion.

Sell Yourself

Wholesalers are picky as there are so many brands now, explained Wild State CEO, Adam Ruhland.

“They hold a lot of the cards so you need to make a compelling pitch to them and show success and previous sales,” he said.

Often choices are made via previous relationships​ as well, added Stem Cider CCO Dave Duffy​. But ​when there is a new state where there’s a clean slate, ​he said they will interview the potential partners in-market to see if there are personnel and go-to-market system fits.

​”​We also try to capture insights from a reasonable sample of retailers directly​,” he said​. ​”​This is over-simplified, but those are the key must-haves.​”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.