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What to look for in your distributors?

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31/10/2023 Strategic Insights: Navigating the Partnership Maze Between Brands and Distributors

Sid Patel: If you are a brand, here is what you should look for in your distributor. If you are a distributor, here is what you should look for in a wine, beer, or spirits supplier.

Sid Patel, CEO of Bartender Spirits Awards and Beverage Trade Network has built a wine brand in the US market and worked with more than 50 state distributors. He also operated a wholesaler out of Delaware and understands how both sides work. Here is his take on what each party should look for:

“If a brand succeeds in the market, everyone will win. Everyone must continue to win for a brand to succeed at all times. That involves the consumer, retailer, distributors, importers and producers”, Sid Patel.

Things to look for in distributor:

1) Current Gap in Portfolio

2) Focus months/weeks your brand will get

3) KPI / Accountability. Minimum sales commitment

4) Chain Team and Authorizations

5) Current Accounts (active accounts)

6) Inventory levels

7) Reputation in the market

8) Key Accounts

9) Leadership

10) Payment Terms and History

11) No Sales Reps

12) Warehouse and Trucking Ownership vs Third-Party Structure

13) Competitive brands

14) Who are the top 5 suppliers and why?

When I was selling my wine, I checked this:

a) Does a distributor have 3-4 big brands that a retailer must have?

b) Are sales reps happy, making money, and consistent 

c) Do they own their own warehouse and trucks 

d) Number of active accounts? Weekly number of accounts delivery.

e) payment history in paying and collecting. One of the most important metrics you should pay attention to.

When you are a young brand, you will say YES to anyone. But make sure you have credit forms and your payment terms are tight. Start small but get paid on time. Getting payments on time from retailer to distributor to supplier is a very good indicator of how your brand is performing.


Feel free to DM me on Linkedin or Instagram if you need any help selecting an importer/distributor. Happy to see your partner and see if can be a good fit.

The 2024 Bartender Spirits Awards results are out! View the results here.