One Blog |May 3, 2011 | Point-of-Sale Marketing Management

A Big Payoff for Wholesale Beverage Distributors and Suppliers

Denis Clark

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

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.

First 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: or call 800.513.9194.

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Wine & Spirits Wholesales of AmericaNational Beer Wholesalers Association Path to Purchase Institute

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