In my last newsletter, I wrote about the importance of analyzing account level data from the wholesale market. For smaller wineries, getting this data and knowing how to use it can be a challenge. For larger businesses, allocating the resources to wading through all of the data usually means having a dedicated person or team.
The first step is, of course, gaining access to the data. Depending on the number of wholesalers you work with, you may be able to simply ask for it in spreadsheet form -- this might work for about five to ten markets. After that, investing in software to help manage the business is usually necessary. (See the newsletter for different providers of this software.)
Below are the fields in which I'm most interested for each market:
* Account name and address (would love phone number and buyer, too)
* wine(s) purchased and quantity of each one
* distributor sales rep who made the placement
The above is just a baseline set of information and represents a good start for those who haven't yet made wholesale management a priority. (I always recommend that if you're in a market, you might as well manage it -- it is ultimately the winery's responsibility to do so and those who expect the distributor just to sell through without a partnership will likely be disappointed.)
Software providers like DarWine will help you look at changes in the business because it's gathered monthly and offers a series of reports ranging from account level detail to wholesale business overview. Top level information might include a report showing number of accounts and placements for each wine nationally comparing 2009 with 2010. An example of a detailed report shows this data for an individual market to let me know best accounts, unsold accounts, etc. A further drill-down might be looking into purchasing patterns of individual accounts.
Assuming I just have the baseline information from my clients, here are a few examples of how I use it at different intervals to ...
* have a productive conversation with each brand manager regarding inventory management/depletions and any programming
* send a thank you note to new accounts, or depending on the size of the order, a special token for the staff members
* send shelf talkers to new off-premise accounts who use them
* promote special accounts or events through social media and winery e-blasts to consumers
* help plan market travel and specific accounts to call upon during the day and patronize each evening
* run a list of accounts for DTC manager to keep on hand for out-of-town visitors to the winery who ask where to find their favorite wine when they return home
* call top X# of buyers in each market to thank them and personally invite them to the winery and send a thank you gift
* run performance report for review meetings with wholesalers
Adding wholesale analysis to your repertoire will result in a great ROI if done consistently and well.