Planning Past The Pandemic For The Liquor License Industry

Date With Destiny

It seems as though the scales have officially flipped where business restrictions are fewer and far between, while news of phase progression is becoming constant. The country reopens, history is being made, and a new air of hopefulness is stretched across the nation as we retreat from our long hibernation. And what better to do than head straight to your local bar, restaurant, concert, or sports game, any and all things we’ve held out on for over a year now. And many of which -for some of us- means having a drink and letting loose!

Business and market analysts are honing in to see where this new era takes the trends of e-commerce, delivery, wellness, small businesses, and altered mindsets of their consumers. There is an entirely fresh layer to the new normal and hopefully, this one provides a well-rounded, stimulating boom to the world of commerce & consumerism.

SevenFifty [an online marketplace and communications platform that helps importers, producers, distributors, and retail buyers connect with each other and do business in a modern world] did a recent piece on the transformation of alcohol distribution, how e-commerce is becoming a key player, and how wholesalers are responding. One of the most significant periods of modernization since the three-tier system was created in 1933, the article states.

Us vs Them

This transformative era has made niche businesses a foot into direct-to-consumer as well, providing artisanal, craft brands where they hadn’t originally fit in at wholesalers. Speakeasy Co. is just one example of a modern niche platform that enables producers to customize order pages right on their own website that are then provided by Speakeasy via local retailers. As CEO Josh Jacobs puts it, “‘This provides a seamless front-end experience for consumers while handling the backend for brands,’ explains Jacobs. By managing warehousing, fulfillment, and technology for suppliers, they are freed up to ‘focus on growth by owning the data and building customer relationships.’”

Similar to this case, Spirit Hub, independent distillery-focused e-commerce that allows customers to order and have curbside pick-up at one of many national retailers that CEO Michael Weiss is working with. And for all the vinos, Wine must not be forgotten, as it poses as another niche that Vivino hopped into as a marketplace partnering with wineries directly that then fulfills the consumer’s order through a local retailer.

These companies rave that the ability to get into this business while it is a standout need in the market has given them free reign to do what they’re best at, “finding the producers and marketing and getting out there in the world and building these brands. It allows us to be a more nimble and focused company.” An importer of Elenteny Imports explains. (Elenteny provides distribution services in some states which allow importers and producers to sell directly to accounts; in other states, they provide logistics and freight-forwarding services and work with a licensed distributor.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, wholesalers are pressured to create more value for their buyers and for their consumers. What used to be free cookies and a slice of cheese at the deli, or the newest product offering a tasting, is now at the tips of consumer’s fingers right from their own home! It’s social media marketing, instant gratification, engagement and stimulation.

The wholesalers still have the leg up when it comes to well-developed quality + quantity of mass distribution, communication, the vitality of sales, and suppliers, all factors critical and essential to the growth and longevity of any business.

On-Demand In High Demand

“These are the resources to really help a smaller brand grow and be successful.” Besides, he [Michael Epstein, COO of the Massachusetts-based Horizon Beverage] adds, wholesalers, need emerging brands: “You never know when a brand is going to pop and become a big brand. You need these developmental brands in your portfolio because it’s a dynamic marketplace.”

Eventually, to survive, any platform is always going to be looking for the next better, faster, and cheaper system to rely on. It seems as though it will soon be a meeting of the minds, as online platforms have the upper hand on the customer-facing side when it comes to marketing, ease of access, and modern innovation. “When a product is promoted on Drizly, Breakthru could quickly see a 150 percent increase in sales at its local retail customers; he predicts that 20 percent of alcohol in the U.S. will soon shift online.” Like many online platforms are partnering with retailers to get the best of both worlds, it will be exciting to see which businesses come together to create a master machine of transformative alcohol supply and distribution.


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