Did the Pandemic Help Breweries Connect ​Better ​with Vendors?

The ups and downs of what the pandemic has brought to the craft beer industry have been well documented and lived through by all. As the 2021 Craft Beer Conference showed, fewer vendors from overseas could make it to the trade show to connect with current customers along with developing new relationships with potential clients.

There were definitely a few missing vendors that Ratio Beerworks founder Jason zumBrunnen said they would have liked to visit with in person. But overall, it actually was a better trade show experience for the Denver-based brewery than they were anticipating.

“The crowds were a little smaller so it was easier to speak with the vendors,” he said.​ ​”Other meetings have had to move online.”

The increase in online communication has multiplied by many factors and that may be a good thing for some breweries, explained ​Wolf’s Ridge brewer Chris Davison.

The Columbus, Ohio brewery has worked at getting better in trying to improve forecasting, planning for increased lead times because of potential delays to supplies or equipment, and in some cases it makes them look for cheaper or faster alternatives. Although most overseas vendors have no restrictions on creating the products, it’s been a struggle to get them shipped to the US promptly, he added.

READ MORE: Best Practices in Connecting with Vendors

“I like when I receive increased communication on orders due to the delays over there,” Davison said. “We used to rarely get updates but didn’t really need them, or so we thought. But now regular updates are becoming essential, and I hope that doesn’t fade away as things return to normal down the line.”

With certain suppliers, zumBrunnen​ has​ seen a decent turnover in customer service reps​.​

​”That has made it difficult to start a relationship with a new rep digitally, before being able to meet in person​,” he admitted, but a silver lining to that is ​​a​ few of ​Ratio’s vendors have taken this time to update their websites and make online ordering even easier.

​”​This has been extremely helpful for items that we order a lot of​,” he said​. ​”​We can have multiple teammates ordering and tracking contracts, orders, shipments very easily. I hope more vendors adopt these platforms.​”​

Photo courtesy Ratio Beerworks

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