Summing Up Bump Williams Consulting’s “3-Tier Growth Strategies” Survey for Distributors

Bump Williams Consulting's top 10 growth strategies provide a reason for beverage distributors to evaluate technology that can help achieve goals in 2023.

January 25, 2023

At the end of 2022, Bump Williams Consulting conducted its year-end “3-Tier Growth Strategies” survey, providing insight into the top growth initiatives for distributors over the next two years. 

The top 10 priorities for distributors include:
  1. Logistics/reducing operating costs

  2. RTD/flavor/non-alcoholic beverages

  3. COT programs/routes

  4. High-end/velocity brands

  5. Reallocating resources

  6. M&A vs. selling

  7. Changing delivery/service model

  8. Retaining quality people

  9. Inventory management

  10. E-commerce research

As you and your business reflect on last year and make plans for the coming years, how do you plan to execute on your initiatives? Below, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can leverage technology to achieve your goals.

While distributor priorities remain consistent with past years, innovative technology tools give distributors new ways to achieve their goals. Bump notes that it’s “still about getting bigger through focus and execution on high-velocity brands, reallocation of resources to growth channels for increased productivity, and more efficient delivery models and controlling costs through inventory management.”

Reducing Operating Costs by Driving Efficiency

As distribution complexities grow, it’s no surprise logistics and reducing operating costs are at the top of wholesalers’ priority lists. Fleet tracking tools provide insight and an in-depth understanding of your logistics operation. Complex routing situations become simple when you have a complete view of your team and their routes. From vehicle maintenance and fuel savings to on-time deliveries and streamlined routes, you’re sure to improve your bottom line, all while improving the safety and satisfaction of your drivers.

Before we started utilizing Fleet Tracker it was very difficult for us to gauge certain metrics for our employees like how long it was taking to make deliveries or their service time on a sales call. With Encompass Fleet Tracker we’re able to dive deeper and really make sure that our employees are getting through their day in the most efficient and effective manner.

Chris Koch

Chief Operating Officer, Adams Beverages

Achieving Growth with Superior Market Execution

How is your organization focusing on execution? If your sales organization is still operating like they were 5 years ago, it’s time to evaluate eCommerce and data-driven solutions. Wholesalers leveraging retail insights and data have been able to:

  • Increase their revenue by 16%+

  • Reallocate their sales rep time to sell by 75%

  • Spend 50% less time taking inventory

We’ve been able to strategically align our people and technology to deliver a measurable impact on time to sell, retailer engagement, and win rates. This alignment has refocused approximately 75 percent of our reps’ time on selling instead of that time being taken by manual processes.

Thomas Johnstone

VP of Sales Technology and Strategy, Eagle Rock Distributing Company

The market is changing, which has triggered the evolution of sales reps, delivery reps, and merchandisers. Different accounts require different levels of service, and tools like online ordering can help distributor reps focus on consultative and value-adding efforts, rather than order-taking. 

Bump believes that distributors will continue to see growth through M&A. However, the number of qualified buyers is shrinking while the number of sellers grows. Utilizing forward-thinking tech solutions can help wholesalers improve their bottom line, drive efficiencies, and become qualified buyers.

Managing Your Labor Resources

Labor challenges aren’t going away anytime soon, so retaining quality people continues to be a must for wholesalers. Competition between distributors to attract and retain labor is stronger than ever. Offering competitive compensation can help, but ultimately, job satisfaction is what drives employee retention. Long hours, manual processes, and inefficiencies directly contribute to attrition.

Providing your team with the tools they need to excel will help them be more efficient and satisfied with their jobs. At the same time, these tools can save your organization money while simultaneously balancing employee workload. It’s a win-win. Whether you’re eliminating manual reconciliation processes with digital payments, changing the way your sales reps operate with online ordering and insights, or helping your warehouse team pick more efficiently, it all makes a difference in employee retention.

Taming SKU Proliferation

How often are you reviewing your SKUs? As the beyond beer category continues to expand, it has become a best practice to undergo SKU and supplier rationalization at least a few times a year, if not continually, to ensure you are placing as much focus as possible on the products that drive the most return. When reviewing your SKUs, it’s important to look at retail data to identify stagnant SKUs, and warehouse inventory data to see where you may have a backlog of cases sitting in your warehouse. Being open and sharing data with your suppliers can help them see the full picture of the demand for their products. It can also help them determine whether or not to cut a product so they can be proactive and assist in your efforts to rationalize SKUs. At the end of the day, it does not benefit you or your suppliers to keep SKUs that aren’t moving. Guiding your suppliers to determine where to innovate and where to potentially cut products can help them drive growth and sales.

As you look at the year ahead and evaluate the strategic growth initiatives you’ve determined for your company, it’s essential to consider leveraging technology to achieve your goals.

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