How Distributors can Support Their Retailers Through COVID-19


In the alcohol industry, each of the three-tiers relies on each other to succeed. So, when the going gets tough, coming together can be the difference-maker.

Across the U.S., thousands of on-premise retailers have closed their dining rooms and shifted to carry out and delivery service to keep their businesses alive. Twenty-nine states have even altered their long-standing service laws to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol with takeout and delivery orders, with an additional thirteen states allowing alcohol sales for takeout orders. While this shift isn’t maybe the best-case scenario for the industry, it does afford a new opportunity to both the retailer and the distributor.

According to a Power Hour presentation from the Brewer’s Association last week, overall takeout and delivery sales are up 110% over the last two weeks of March, with 15% of people having added alcohol to their orders. While that might not seem like a huge percentage, it’s extremely encouraging for future growth opportunities as more states relax their service laws, and more retailers start to bundle their food and alcohol offerings. So, what can suppliers and distributors do to jump in and support retailers while also increasing their own product adoption? Here are a few of our best suggestions:

  1. Don’t forget your on-prem retailers

While it might seem crazy to dedicate extra energy to on-prem accounts, carving out a bit of time can really make a difference during these challenging times. According to Beer Business Daily, contacting your key accounts should remain a best practice during the pandemic. Not only is it the compassionate thing to do, but it shows that you’re paying attention to their business, which will certainly pay off when things pick back up. Plus, keeping in touch with your on-prem retailers can put you in a great spot to learn about delivery promotions they might be running and open the door to suggest your own products to fit their plan. Also, don’t close the door completely on new on-prem business. If you have the resources, consider growing your network, even if it’s just to local retailers who may not already carry your products.

  1. Consider new package discounts or specials

If you can, partner with your on-prem retailers to offer special “happy hour” pricing for their audience. In their presentation, the BA pointed out that 31% of consumers said they ordered takeout or delivery in the past two weeks from a venue that offered a specific drink offering. They also shared that the early evening is the most popular time of day for takeout services. Do you carry a unique brand or product, like a hazy IPA or a seasonal cider that’s getting great reviews? Consider offering your on-premise retailers special discounts or pricing for purchasing these items and offering them in a happy hour takeout or delivery bundle. This will get your product out to more consumers and give you both an opportunity to capitalize on crucial purchasing hours and offer consumers something that they want. Of course, when you do partner for special pricing, be sure to utilize Fintech for touch-free, electronic payments. This will keep your delivery drivers and sales reps safe and increase their efficiency by helping them move through their routes quicker.

  1. Cross-promote your retail partners on social media

Once you check in with your retailers and partner to get your products moving to the consumer, it’s a great idea to cross-promote on social media. Let consumers know where they can find your product, in both on-premise and off-premise segments, and be sure to announce any special deals they can get through either channel. If you partnered with a local restaurant to offer a happy hour bundle for food and drinks, share the deal in a format that will drive traffic for both you and the retailer. Share each other’s posts and engage with different audiences to draw attention to the specials being offered and support each other’s business. Win-win.

While times are definitely tough, there are dozens of opportunities to jump into the delivery and takeout trends in a way that will not only help your retailers but your business. No matter what you choose to do, remember to lead with compassion and help out where you can – that might be the difference-maker for your business once the tough times are over. Above all, give all your retailers a safe, efficient alternative to cash payments through Fintech. Interested in learning more about Fintech’s automated payment services or ready to enroll with all your retailers? Contact us today at 800-572-0854 option 3.

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