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The 70th Annual WSWA Convention: So Hot, It’s Cool!

  
  
  
  

The 70th Annual WSWA Convention: So Hot, It’s Cool!

WSWA Convention 2013 Dateline Orlando

First, our thanks to the WSWA and the convention staff - A job well done!

We’ve just returned from the WSWA 70th Annual Convention & Exposition in Orlando – our fourth year in a row as attendees and our first year as both a Member and Sponsor.

From our vantage point, this year’s theme, “So Hot, It’s Cool” was very appropriate; and this year’s convention was our best experience ever.

Not only are beverage alcohol sales surging, but also the number of WSWA convention attendees is swelling to over 2,300.

Keynote Speakers

Sunday’s opening general session by Doug Hertz, president of United Distributors, and WSWA Chairman, included a decade-by-decade history of the WSWA. Next was a very funny and entertaining presentation by keynote speaker, Terry Bradshaw, NFL Hall of Famer and broadcaster.

One of the high points of the convention was Tuesday’s general business session when Richard Leventhal, Chairman and CEO of Fedway Associates, received a lifetime leadership award. Richard gave a poignant, pictorial reminder of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the damage done to this distributor. He highlighted the incredible hard work of his employees, and the selfless actions of other distributors who came to the aid of Fedway, getting them back in operation in just over two weeks. Fedway’s amazing story received a standing ovation and an obvious and unrestrained outpouring of support from his peers.

Tuesday’s closing keynote speaker was Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul, entrepreneur and TV personality on ABC’s Shark Tank. Barbara entertained and inspired the audience with her life story from a modest upbringing in New Jersey, to the heights of the real estate market in New York City. Her ‘keys to success story’ was motivational and well received by all attendees.

U.S Beverage Alcohol Forum – Break-out Sessions

Of particular interest to us were several break-out sessions, notably “Launching Brands in the U.S. and Addressing the Challenges of Distribution Today” and “Using Technology to Drive Your Business on the Street.

These presentations included panelists from suppliers, distributors, marketing and technology providers and a national POS fulfillment company. The takeaways from these sessions are too numerous to discuss here in detail, but it is clear that launching a brand requires skills from several disciplines and the staying power afforded by a well-capitalized supplier. At the same time, technology is a critical competitive advantage, not just for logistics, transport planning and accounting, but also for retail marketing initiatives.  Repeatedly, both suppliers and distributors noted that one key to building a brand is to “Get customers to try your product – which is difficult in an overcrowded space, for example, wine.”

Launching a new brand of wine (spirit or beer) is an expensive proposition these days. Panel members agreed that one of the keys to getting a trial of your brand is to recognize that the most important place to market a new beverage alcohol product to shoppers is clearly at the time and place that they are actively looking to buy.

OnTrak’s Perspective

Our perspective is that the point-of-sale (POS) has not traditionally been the place that enjoys the majority of either the marketing budget or the deployment of tracking and measuring software. In short, too much money has been spent building brands via broadcast or print media that shoppers can’t find or can’t even remember once they are overwhelmed by the variety and choices before them in the aisle. The result is that too little money has been spent on marketing at the point-of-sale where it can make all the difference in a shopper becoming a buyer [of your product] or walking on to the next product.

Clearly POS, shopper marketing, marketing at-retail is reaching or has already reached “critical mass.” Suppliers and distributors may not agree on everything, but one thing they seem to understand is that POS spending is of critical importance yet, in many cases, is out of control – unable to be tracked, measured and managed.

If this describes your situation, press the button below – we may just have the solution you’re looking for.

Wine Samples - How To Turn Wine Shoppers into Wine Buyers

  
  
  
  

Wine Samples - How To Turn Wine Shoppers into Wine Buyers

Background

Wine Samples, Beverage SamplesFor years US wine suppliers, distributors and retailers have studied and researched what makes American wine shoppers actually buy wine.

There have been industry and academic studies conducted to determine the wine consumer’s ‘reasons to buy’.  These study results may provide some insight into what can be done to motivate a wine shopper to actually buy one or more of the thousands of wines available to them at their favorite retailer or restaurant.

With the exception of fine dining – where customers often rely on the restaurant’s sommelier or wait staff for wine selection and wine-food pairing recommendationsthe #1 reason consumers select a wine is previous experience.

In other words, wine consumers typically choose wine because they know what it tastes like. These ‘tasting biases’ aren’t just limited to restaurants. The same selection bias is equally applicable to wine stores and other retail settings.  For this reason, it is important for suppliers and their distributors to create as many opportunities as possible for everyone in the distributor-retailer-consumer supply chain to experience their wines.

Our Experience

We define these opportunity events as sampling (business-to-business) and tasting (business-to-consumer) programs.

The wine supplier’s customers are the wine distributors, and the wine distributor’s customers are the retailers. So it’s important for wine suppliers to encourage their distributors to conduct many sampling opportunities for the retail buyers - the consumers. In fact it’s vital that each tier in the chain support and encourage sampling and tasting programs. (See Note)

Our experience with wine, spirits, and beer companies suggests three things:

  • Wine suppliers, working through their distributors should encourage on-premise retailers to provide an ever increasing and changing selection of branded and varietal wines-by-the-glass and wine-flight offerings. Then make sure to support these offerings with table tents, signage and other point-of-sale (POS) mentions, including menus.

  • Wine distributors, working with their wine suppliers, should support at-retail wine education events; especially in the wine departments of large retailers and at stand-alone wine stores and boutiques.

  • Wine retailers, working with their distributors, must create at-retail sampling programs, and build and increase tasting events with retail shoppers. The more tastings a retailer conducts, the more wine sales will be increased for everyone.

The Goal

The ultimate goal of all of these sampling, tasting, mentions and other POS programs is to introduce as many new brands and wine labels as possible to distributors, retailers and individual consumers.  For both on- and off-premise retailers, these programs will also help in building loyal, repeat consumers who will often recommend specific positive wine experiences to friends. Our customers tell us that a wine recommendation from friends is another key wine selection influencer, nearly as important as previous experience.

For suppliers, distributors, retailers and restaurants alike, frequent hosting of sampling and tasting events, wine dinners and other wine-centric events, and simultaneously supporting these events with brand-specific POS – signs, displays and menus – creates a climate that provides measurable sales increases and a positive return-on-investment(ROI).

There Is a Solution

As the importance of wine sampling and tasting events has grown, it has become increasingly  more important for suppliers and distributors alike to track, measure and manage the number of no-charge bottles used for brand, label and retail promotion. Keeping track of sample requests and the measurement the ROI of sampling activities is more difficult than ever, especially now that there are over 105,000 wine labels on the market today.

Only OnTrak’s newest solution, SampleTrak – designed by wine distributors for wine distributors – can help distributors work with their suppliers and retailer to manage these important and expensive ‘liquid assets’.

To learn more click this button:

____________________________

Note 1: The rules and regulations for tasting events (retailers to individual consumers) vary from state to state. These recommendations should be undertaken in compliance with applicable state laws governing consumption at retail locatons other than restaurants, bars and other on-premise retailers.

Harness the Full Power of Beverage Samples with SampleTrak

  
  
  
  

Harness the Full Power of Beverage Samples - With SampleTrak

Take it up a Notch and Capture Consumer Feedback

Inc. Magazine published a story titled, “How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product.”

The article starts off outlining how a start-up coffee shop named Gordon Grade Coffee Company aimed to use a large-scale sampling effort at a university during finals time. With the usual goal of translating sales into actual business, such an effort (especially during an important time in a company’s ramp up stage) has risk, but also significant potential. The article discusses a variety of products and emphasizes the need to know why you’re sampling, what product is best to sample, and what audience to target.
 
Alcohol Beverage SamplesIn OnTrak Software’s business, which focuses on tracking, managing and measuring beverage alcohol  samples and other marketing materials, the importance of HOW to sample is obviously quite relevant. However, OnTrak takes sampling much further. Once beverage distributors have a strong sampling plan in place, OnTrak encourages distributors to “sample” its SampleTrak solution. Samples are great, but why not use them to actually gain consumer feedback? It’s the logical next step instead of simply waiting to see if samples eventually translate into more sales.
 
Let’s face it – the effectiveness of samples can be a problem if a restaurant or store doesn’t track the information they need to see what works and what doesn’t. Additionally, if an audit trail for inventory isn’t maintained, do you really know where samples are going, or what percentage is truly being used for its intended purpose? Without tracking, samples really can’t serve a definitive role in your long-term business strategy.
 
Here’s what beverage distributor’s can turn to:

SampleTrak software can help you capitalize on market share opportunities and get more from sampling programs by providing detailed informationfrom what beverage was sampled, where and to whom, with tasting comments. SampleTrak ties it all together in order to show you how your sampling efforts correlate to sales.

Once you know what’s really going on with your samples, you’re ready to fully harness their potential.
 
In The Inc. article, it mentions that the coffee company was planning to offering more than 2,000 samples of its product during one major campaign. Imagine the value of tracking the feedback from each and every one of those samples. Now THAT’S data any company would want.
 
Click here to learn more about OnTrak's sampling solutions:

about-sampletrak

The Retail Store – Where POS Marketing Works Best

  
  
  
  

The Retail Store – Where POS Marketing Works Best

This blog will certainly offer a familiar message, although with a twist – especially to anyone who has visited our site more than once.  There’s a surprise at the end.

The Point-of-Purchase - Where Shoppers Become Buyers

The individual store has become the most effective place to connect to consumers. Leading-edge consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers are partnering effectively to deliver "in-store commercials" that significantly increase sales and enhance brand equity.

As this trend endures it most certainly represents an important opportunity for the beverage alcohol business.

What's Driving the Change?

Traditional advertising has become increasingly ineffective. While it once played a major role in the success of many CPG companies this focus is changing quickly and dramatically.

Three main factors are driving in-store marketing changes.

  • Consumers spend 50 percent less time watching network TV; 22 percent less time reading magazines, and 21 percent less time reading newspapers than they did five years ago.

  • Advertising on network TV no longer guarantees widespread exposure to a brand message. In 1995, marketers could reach 80 percent of 18 to 49 year-old women in the US with only three TV commercials. By the year 2000, they needed 97 TV commercials to reach the same group

  • Technology (DVR) enables consumers to record and fast-forward through TV commercials

This means that CPG manufacturers – including beverage companies – are spending their money in the wrong place.

Retailers are Reinventing their Value Propositions

Traditionally, retailers could compete on things like prices, categories, clean stores, freshness and in-store services. Today, they're working hard to create and replicate an experience through in-store marketing and in-store events and generate a competitive advantage. While they may not own a category, they can own the consumer experience. The store becomes the marketing platform for retailers and marketers to effectively reach consumers.

What Does This Mean?

If the store is the marketing platform, then beverage and other marketers must develop strong brand messages that create tangible sales results at the point-of-purchase.

There is definitely an emerging trend toward "in-store commercials" created by forward-thinking retailers and brand marketers. One marketing services company leading the evolution of "in-store commercials" is Mass Connections, based in Cerritos, California. Caroline Nakken, a founding principal of Mass Connections, said in a keynote address at the POP Show in New York:

"Today, the store has the potential to become the most effective and efficient marketing platform. Shoppers – as much as they would like to – can't fast-forward through the aisles.”

What are "in-store commercials?"

In Store CommercialThe stage is a department within a store that has been temporarily designed for an event with the appropriate point-of-purchase (POP) materials. (Wine departments have become a favorite for events.)

The actors are the event personnel, and their props are the wine brands they're promoting.

The audience is made up of previously bored, hard-to-target shoppers who want to be entertained.

The script is the theme of the event.

The theater is the store.

"In-store commercials" provide a break from the routine of shopping and a chance to tell consumers about a new product or reinforce a brand message. These events drive sales and influence shoppers in a positive way because they present new usage opportunities for products. For example: Shoppers can experience a new brand or something new from an existing brand by sampling a new product. Or, they can learn how to use an existing product differently, such as trying an ingredient in a different recipe resulting in a repeat purchase.

Effective in-store POP influences consumer purchases by reinforcing brand identity, supporting the media message, and creating product awareness. This message, in one form or another, has been making the rounds at least for the past 10 years. Perhaps it’s time you step up your point-of-purchase game for those thousands or hundreds of thousands of beer, wine and spirit labels you and your distributors represent.

Now, the “Reveal”

With only a small amount of editing, the above article was taken almost verbatim from Wine Business Monthly’s March, 2003 edition.

You can read the entire unedited version at: 

http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticle&dataId=22814

When I first came across the article, the only clue to the age of the article hit me when I read about the keynote address given by Ms. Nakken – in 2002 – I removed the date from the above copy in order to not give away anything until the end.

Although nearly 10 years old, this article is as relevant today – perhaps even more so – as it was when it was first published.

To learn more about OnTrak Software can help you track, measure and manage your in-store commercials, click this button:

     about-ontrak

The Power of Beverage Sampling - See It, Sample It, Buy It

  
  
  
  

The Power of Beverage Sampling - See It, Sample It, Buy It

The Power of Beverage SamplingRecently I stopped in to my local Kroger’s to pick up some Yuengling Lager. When I got to the beer section I noticed a tower-display of a new beer, Bud Light Platinum. I picked up a $5.99 six-pack and forgot about Yuengling.

For $5.99, I was willing to take a risk because the worst that would happen is that Platinum would be just another repackaging of Bud Light. In other words, for a brand I knew, at a price that was within my expectations, I was willing to take the risk and buy it without knowing anything about it. 

On the other hand, I am unlikely to buy an untried $20 bottle of wine without someone recommending it, or reading about it in a wine-related publication, or sampling it myself.

Sampling has become the best way to sell more consumer packaged goods (CPG), like wine. If you’re a wine supplier, you want to make certain that your customers (the distributors), and their customers (the retailers), and their customers (the consumers), perceive a relatively low risk in purchasing your product.

Reducing the Risk

Sampling is an excellent way to reduce a customer’s perception of risk; and suppliers, distributors and retailers alike have come to realize this.

In response, Friday night in-store tastings have given way to “Wet Wednesday“ samplings, and “Thirsty Thursday” tastings, where shoppers can taste to their heart’s content for 25 cents a glass – with plentiful, free hors d'oeuvres.

Our customers, the wine distributors, sample their retailers to convince the store’s wine buyer to pick up the new “hot” wine. They say, “A taste is worth a thousand words – or multiple media buys.” In short, a sample is better than even the slickest ad in Wine Spectator.

The explosion of the number of new beverages in general, and the new flavored and function waters specifically, has also been a reason that the water category has turned to sampling as a way to increase sales. Shoppers, given an ever growing number of options from which to choose, are unlikely to risk their money on something they haven’t tried (or tasted) – especially if they’ve never heard of it before.

I was willing to try Bud Light Platinum because of several factors:

  • The location in the aisle of the Point-of-sale display (POS placement)
  • The sexy dark-blue, barely transparent glass bottle (POS attractiveness)
  • The price (within my expectations) and
  • The brand (Bud).

Without the name Bud, the risk would have been higher, despite the placement and attractiveness of the POS display. And without the known brand name, the price would have needed to be lower, or I would have had to sample it.

The Shift to Sampling

Clearly the marketing of many products – especially beverages – has shifted away from traditional advertising, and moved to a mix of POS signage and displays and sampling.

If you are a manufacturer or distributor of consumer goods, you may already know the value of sampling in increasing brand awareness and product sales. But before you spend a lot more  money in this area, consider the following:

>> Do you have the tools in place to track, measure and manage your product sampling activities, and correlate these activities to sales results?

Click here to learn more about our Product Sampling Software:

about-sampletrak

Beverage Sampling Increases Demands For More Control

  
  
  
  

Beverage Sampling Increases Demands For More Control

Don’t let ramped-up sampling eat away at inventory control

Beverage SamplingWhen we think of beverage sampling, the first thing that most likely comes to mind is wine. Whether it’s a restaurant, liquor store or some other venue, using samples to increase sales of wine has been standard and frequent practice in the majority of businesses. But as we see the market being inundated with new beverages, such as beers from overseas and special micro brews, the sampling of beverages other than wine has become much more prevalent – if not expected in some circumstances.

In fact, a few industry publications note the increase in point-of-sale sampling as a trend that will only increase. The tight economic times are making it more appealing for suppliers, distributors and retailers to turn to inexpensive sampling instead of other less direct (and pricier) advertising campaigns. With marketing dollars less abundant these days, it makes sense to be more creative and fully utilize the potential that sampling brings. After all, it makes perfect sense that someone who tastes something they like is much more likely to purchase it (as compared to simply seeing or hearing about the beverage through signage, menus or other marketing material).

But throwing out samples and hoping for the best really isn’t a campaign, it’s a guess. And the increased sampling can easily lend itself to a loss of inventory control and tracking. Despite their popularity, the cost effectiveness of samples can be a problem if you don’t track information that delivers measurable results. If managed efficiently and consistently evaluated, sampling for various types of beverages can be become an integral and important part of the business.

But how does a business dive into broader sampling efforts and actually determine what sells more beverages? SampleTrak software from OnTrak Software can help capitalize on a business’s market share opportunities to get more from its sampling programs. SampleTrak provides detailed information, from what product or beverage was sampled and where, to who sampled it and the customer’s response—tying it all together to show how it correlates to sales. Once a business knows what’s really going on with their samples, they can leverage them more effectively.

SampleTrak is a paperless, Web-based software tool that provides a single point of control for managing the entire sampling process. The system helps to prevent losses of inventory and revenues by creating a detailed audit trail for receipts and sample distribution. Lack of documentation and uncertainty doesn’t have to be a part of the alcohol distribution business.

SampleTrak helps increase accountability with a detailed audit trail, and improve profits by allowing businesses to claim every dollar they are due from suppliers. Best of all, SampleTrak requires virtually no set up, installation, or training so you can be up and running in no time.

Click here to learn how OnTrak controls Sample Inventory:

secure-inventory-control

Harness the Full Power of Alcohol Beverage Samples

  
  
  
  

Harness the Full Power of Alcohol Beverage Samples

Take it up a Notch and Capture Consumer Feedback

On May 26, Inc. Magazine published a story titled, “How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product.” The article starts off outlining how a start-up coffee shop named Gordon Grade Coffee Company aimed to use a large-scale sampling effort at a university during finals time. With the usual goal of translating sales into actual business, such an effort (especially during an important time in a company’s ramp up stage) has risk, but also significant potential. The article discusses a variety of products and emphasizes the need to know why you’re sampling, what product is best to sample, and what audience to target.
 
Alcohol Beverage SamplesIn OnTrak Software’s business, which focuses on tracking, managing and measuring alcohol beverage samples and other marketing materials, the importance of HOW to sample is obviously quite relevant. However, OnTrak takes sampling much further. Once beverage distributors have a strong sampling plan in place, OnTrak encourages alcohol beverage distributors to “sample” its SampleTrak solution. Samples are great, but why not use them to actually gain consumer feedback? It’s the logical next step instead of simply waiting to see if samples eventually translate into more sales.
 
Let’s face it – the effectiveness of samples can be a problem if a restaurant or store doesn’t track the information they need to see what works and what doesn’t. Additionally, if an audit trail for inventory isn’t maintained, do you really know where samples are going, or what percentage is truly being used for its intended purpose? Without tracking, samples really can’t serve a definitive role in your long-term business strategy.
 
Here’s what beverage distributor’s can turn to: SampleTrak software can help you capitalize on market share opportunities and get more from sampling programs by providing detailed information – from what wine or other beverage was sampled and where, to who sampled it and the customer’s tasting response. SampleTrak ties it all together in order to show how it correlates to your sales. Once you know what’s really going on with your samples, you’re ready to fully harness their potential.
 
In The Inc. article, it mentions that the coffee company was planning on offering more than 2,000 samples of its product during one major campaign. Imagine the value of tracking the feedback from each and every one of those samples. Now THAT’S data any company would want.
 
Click here to learn more about OnTrak's sampling solutions:

about-sampletrak

Wine Sampling and Wine Tasting - A New, ‘Old’ Marketing Approach

  
  
  
  

Wine Sampling and Wine Tasting - A New, ‘Old’ Approach

It’s all about the wine . . . isn’t it?

Wine suppliers are naturally focused on producing the best wines they can. And wineries seem to have a good sense of how to create an attractive label and make their bottles say “pick me, pick me!”

Next, suppliers, to promote their brand, may try to line up beverage distributors assuming that wholesalers will do a great job of marketing and selling the supplier’s brand to their customers. A common supplier thought may be ‘the bigger the distributor the better’. Maybe, maybe not - You’ll have to share your experience with us. Our experience says, you can’t only count on the big distributors to make your wine a success. Some of the larger distributors carry more than 40,000 SKU’s. So adding your wine to an already long list may have little impact on your success.   

Your wine, unless it is an immediate hit, will require a steady stream of marketing dollars to keep a large distributor focused.  Simply bringing out another very good, or even great wine, without an accompanying advertising and promotion strategy is almost certainly a recipe for failure. So what’s the best way to entice consumers to buy it once; and then buy it again and again? 

Today, there are a few “old fashioned” methods to get your wines noticed. These methods, although not free, vary widely in costs.

What’s the most efficient and effective form of beverage advertising and promotion?

At one end of the marketing spectrum would be Media Advertising aimed at large audiences. This could take a truckload of money to produce. Unfortunately, today’s consumers are able to tune-out or by-pass most mass marketing advertisements with a simple press of the skip button on the DVR remote. It’s virtually impossible to efficiently and effectively market to such a large group.

At the other end of the spectrum would be a less expensive approach - Word-of-Mouth Marketing. One person finds something they like, or don’t like, and promptly tells another person, who tells another, and so on. If you can get a ‘few’ people to sample or taste your wine, there is an excellent chance they will tell their friends. In the days before there were national media outlets, one-to-one marketing was often the way new products became household names. Now, in the age of the Internet, we have an opportunity to couple old-fashioned (word-of-mouth) marketing with current technology (social networking).

Here’s how.

It All Starts with a Taste – A Sample of the Product

Wine Sampling   Wine TastingAs a wine supplier you need to provide funding for product sampling. This means you need to offer your distributors generous sample allowances to encourage them to get retailers and consumers to sample or taste your products. Assuming your wine is well received, both retailers and individual shoppers will tell their friends, who will tell their friends. Coupled with social media technology like Facebook, Twitter and the other ‘one-to-many’ Internet communications, the impact of a sampling or tasting event could be beyond your comprehension.

The Best Approach for You

Rather than taking only the 'big distributor approach', with the associated marketing expenses, you may want to try another alternative. Take a look at getting your products represented by several smaller distributors and offer them sampling allowances that will ensure your wine is tasted by as many retailers and consumers as possible. This could create a ‘one-to-one-to-many-to-more’ marketing plan that provides you with the kind of sales lift you need, at costs you can afford.

But as a supplier, you want something more in return for providing funds to the distributors. Not just a list of charge backs. You need Market Intelligence! What was the sampling activity? What were the tasting comments? Did the retailer or consumer like it, and did they buy it?

As a distributor, you want to keep track of the customers and products you sample and correlate that event to sales results. If you keep track of what has been sampled and to whom, there will be yet another benefit – when you have turnover in the sales ranks, the new reps can easily know what customers have already sampled which wines, and not waste anyone’s time.

For more information on our wine sampling and tasting products visit: www.ontraksoftware.com/beverage-sample-software , or call 513-936-4037.

Mark Fullerton

A Big Payoff for Wholesale Beverage Distributors and Suppliers

  
  
  
  

A WSWA 2011 Brief by Denis Clark, Executive VP, OnTrak Software

Detailed Bill-Back Reports Can Pay Off Big for both Wholesale Beverage Distributors AND Their Suppliers

Top Observations Arising From Discussions at WSWA 2011

This year at WSWA 2011, OnTrak Software was pleased to talk with numerous suppliers about how wholesale distributors could improve their bill-back recovery by providing better information on where and when the supplier’s brands are being promoted.  

We all know that each year suppliers spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of bill-backs for expenses related to point-of-sale signage, menus, samples and other marketing materials. However, wholesalers seem to lack any clear way to be sure they’re receiving the maximum available amount of bill-backs. Yes, they nearly always send supplier reports that attempt to justify the bill-back dollars, but are they detailed enough to become a true business growth tool for both sides? Or is it simply a reimbursement report? It doesn’t seem the true value of the reports is harnessed by the majority of wholesale distributors OR suppliers.

Supplier Bill-Back PayoffFirst off, it’s clear that beverage suppliers are more than happy to pay the wholesale distributors for promoting their brands through samples, menus, signs and displays. There is money available -Significantly more money than what is currently being paid out today. The opportunity is there to utilize bill-back dollars in a way that truly grows the business between a wholesale distributor and a supplier.

Here’s what suppliers told us:

Detailed Reports Are Required

Large suppliers won’t pay a dime unless the wholesale distributor can prove, with reports, the amount of the money that was spent, where it was spent, and with whom. Suppliers at WSWA confirmed that the information that they get from the wholesale distributors today is often fairly vague. In many instances, suppliers must go back to wholesalers and ask for more detail to justify the bill-back. Big suppliers at WSWA said they definitely pay, but they need detailed reports.

Desire to Streamline Bill-Back Approval Process

Suppliers want to shorten the cycle time for bill-back approvals and would even be willing to spend more money after seeing detailed reports. This is about BUSINESS BUILDING. When most of the larger suppliers were presented with reports from the suite of OnTrak products, they told us that the information in the reports was exactly what they needed to receive from distributors. With reports available at the click of a mouse, it’s clear that fast and accurate reporting means faster payments.

The Potential Business Value of Rapid Reporting

Some of the suppliers at the WSWA conference indicated that they already receive reports that do include some welcomed/helpful details. However, they had no idea how much time it might take for a wholesaler to produce such reports. Without automated solutions like those available from OnTrak, wholesalers may spend days and weeks compiling the reports.  But why should the supplier care how long it takes?  Well consider this: If wholesalers take less time producing reports, then they would have more time to promote the supplier’s brands.  That’s a win-win for both suppliers and wholesalers.

OnTrak Software Answers the Need to Enhance Bill-Back Dollar Value

OnTrak Software offers automated solutions that guarantee wholesalers obtain all allowable bill-backs. Manual systems are no doubt prone to expensive mistakes, and homegrown solutions for bill-back recovery take away from time that can be spent on a wholesaler’s core competency: Selling more beverages.

Wholesalers need a system that accurately tracks and manages, as well as ‘recovers’ the maximum supplier marketing co-op dollars available from their suppliers. The more dollars a wholesaler is able to recover, the more they are able to reduce their overall point-of-sale marketing expenses. Using measured and managed point-of-sale marketing systems from OnTrak Software, wholesalers can increase annual sales and grow market share – illustrating the value of a supplier’s bill-back program.

OnTrak’s point-of-sale marketing management tools lower the costs and risks associated with making business decisions and help wholesalers achieve and support the company’s strategic sales objective. These OnTrak software tools are MenuTrak, for custom beverage menus, and SampleTrak, for beverage sampling and tastings.

What Suppliers Said about OnTrak’s Tools at WSWA

When suppliers examined the reports produced by OnTrak products, they confirmed that the content of OnTrak’s reports was exactly what they needed in order to pay the wholesale distributors and perhaps increase spending where success was clearly illustrated. In fact, most suppliers indicated that OnTrak reports provided significantly more information than they currently obtain from wholesale distributors’ reports.

For more information about our products go to: www.ontraksoftware.com/products or call 800.513.9194.

Point-of-Sale Marketing - Means Marketing Success - WSWA 2011

  
  
  
  

WSWA 2011

WSWAPoint-of-Sale Marketing - Means Marketing Success

We just returned from the 2011 WSWA 68th Annual Convention & Exposition in Orlando. On Tuesday, the day after the exhibition hall closed, we attended a great educational session:

Brand Builders: Case Histories of Successful Brand Launches, Expansions and Initiatives.

A Saturated Market

This session offered valuable advice to both suppliers and wholesalers. The opinion of the panelists was that even though the alcohol beverage market is saturated, every year there is a net gain in new “adult beverage” SKU’s. And there's no end in sight. Producers, large and small, are continuously developing and bringing new products to the market in hopes of becoming the next big thing.

According to Dimensional Insight, the number of alcohol beverage SKU’s in the US now exceeds 100,000. No wonder it is difficult – and potentially very expensive – for a new beverage to gain a foothold and take off.

The panelists, as well as other attendees, generally agree on one thing: To be successful, new products have to be promoted before large wholesalers give them much shelf space. Even small wholesalers need incentives from suppliers to promote the newest beverages.

Suggested Approach

The most common theme throughout the panel presentations, and from the attendees, was that a new product (unless it is from a name-brand company or family) must be tasted or sampled to gain a following. These new products must be promoted at the point-of-sale (POS) to introduce and reinforce consumer awareness. According to the experts, suppliers and wholesalers we spoke with, new alcohol beverages are best promoted via sampling (B2B) and tasting (B2C) events, menu placements, or retail signage and displays

In summary: Point-of-Sale is one of the most effective and efficient methods to promote adult beverages. POS, in other words, “Means Marketing.” Sounds so easy “All you have to do” is come up with sampling allowances and marketing co-op programs to encourage wholesalers. The quick answer may be “yes,” but it’s more complicated than offering up to a 50 percent sample allowance, or allowing wholesalers to recover $15.00 “per mention” on their customer drink menus.

Prove It Or Else!

As a wholesaler, you may be at a point where in return for the supplier’s investment in your point-of-sale marketing, the supplier wants to see measurable results from your marketing campaigns including: sampling, drink menus, signs and displays.

Today, supplier top management needs “statistical assurances” or reports before they “write the check” to wholesalers who are claiming marketing or sampling recovery dollars. The days are gone when a wholesaler can just pick up the phone and ask his supplier for $5,000 to reimburse the wholesaler for POS spending campaigns. Suppliers are correct in requesting detailed reports from wholesalers. These types of reports have, for some wholesalers, always been possible, but often very difficult to produce – Especially without technology to help easily assemble and produce these reports. So, if you haven’t been asked to produce such “assurances reports” previously – be prepared.

Conclusion

For any company looking to introduce or launch a new product here’s an accurate, but greatly oversimplified, summary from the 68th Annual WSWA Convention:

“If you want to successfully bring your new alcohol beverages to a saturated market, you must provide a mix of POS marketing (sampling, menus, signs and displays), with conventional sales (feet on the street) and other marketing efforts (social media, mobile-technology, the Internet, email and direct-mail, and print and broadcast media).

Next, measure which of these approaches are both the most effective and most efficient – then, spend appropriately.”

After three days of listening to presenters and attendees alike, at least one thing is clear: Measured and managed POS is the most cost effective tools you can and should deploy – today – to achieve success.

The strategies and tactics these marketing approaches represent are the “liquid in marketing’s bottle and not the label slapped on top.” – quoted from the 2011 WSWA program guide.

Cheers!

Mark Fullerton

For more information about our products go to: www.ontraksoftware.com/products or call 800.513.9194.

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