Distributors' Voices in BrewBound: Dealing with SKU-Mageddon (Part II)
Beer distributors have been adapting to changes in the marketplace, on one level or another, for decades. In the most traditional sense, a distributor buys product from the brewery, and delivers it to the retailer. But there’s a lot that happens in between, and value added that isn’t apparent.
Distributors have lived with change as a constant partner. They have evolved and adapted to the changing needs of the marketplace.
However the rapid increase in craft beers created a ripple effect of changes throughout the distributor organization. Every department, every employee has been impacted in some way. Sales and customer service have been presented with dozens of new brands to learn; warehouse teams have been challenged to make room for hundreds of new SKUs; and the accountants have been tasked with finding a way to pay for it all.Thirty years ago, an average beer distributor carried less than 100 SKUs, but today has well over 1,000.
In part I of his two-part column for Brewbound Voices, Kary Shumway described the inner workings of a beer distributor. In part II, Shumway explores the challenges and opportunities of craft beer SKU proliferation, and offers financial tips for distributors looking to more effectively manage their own complex beer portfolios.