Cider Corner: 4 Points to Ponder when Starting DTC Sales

Pre-pandemic, Fenceline Cider saw about 75% of its sales came from the Mancos, Colorado taproom.

“Now it is less than 50%,” said co-founder Sam Perry. “We are canning a lot more products and doing a lot more wholesale and distribution to keep the wheels on the business this year.”

Along with moving into retail establishments, another sales avenue is to grow your cidery’s online sales position, including Direct-to-Consumer sales.

Alex Koral of Sovos shared insights in Direct-to-Consumer shipping and the sometimes complicated aspects that it can take. Once your cidery is up to speed on shipping laws, then making sure everything is in order is important as well. Fines could pile up quickly if you are audited, more than the costs to get started even.

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“It’s a costly industry,” he said. “There are a lot of logistics involved with it, not merely managing your compliance needs, but ensuring that you can actually ship there and that you have sales there that would be sufficient for the outlay that would go into shipping to that market.”

Koral shared these four points:

  • Recognize Key Markets: “If you have a lot of tourists coming from that region, that’s a great state,” he said as an example. “If you’re already making three-tier distributions into that state, that’s another great market for your DtC market. Because as we’ve seen, those do go hand in glove and you can build one with the other.“
  • Be Ready to Sell: “You’ll have to advertise to them,” he said. “Let them know you’re available, and then build out your online presence or some sort of club so that you can get involved with those consumers.”
  • Ask For Help: “This can be a very complicated and challenging business,” Koral said. “There’s a lot of logistics involved with it. You have to have your delivery mechanism set up and work with compliance shippers.” Finding help can include your local general counsel, shipping consultants, and even state guilds — both for your state and the states you plan to ship to.
  • Automate Compliance: “That can be very burdensome,” he pointed out. “It can be costly if you’re scrambling every month to try and make sure that you’re filing your taxes on time, and your orders are in compliance.”

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