Types of C-store Distributors – Whom to Choose?
Distributors are vital for convenience store business and are its lifeblood that keeps them alive and vital throughout the year irrespective of their location. They help store owners understand market trends and make their plans well in advance to take advantage of changing needs of the customers. Convenience store brokers and distributors visit their clients’ stores on a regular basis every few weeks to get feedback on products sold through them. C-store distribution is carried out by small and large chain of food distributors and varied categories of wholesalers and sometimes by manufacturers themselves who keep themselves limited to a particular geographical area.
Importance of C store distributors – It may be possible for the manufacturer of convenience items to sell his product physically for a short period of time, but it would be difficult for him to expand his business without the help of distributors. Manufacturers will need the assistance of both wholesalers and distributors to expand their brand and take advice about how to get products into c stores.
Distributors help in consolidating the operations of both manufacturers and retailers by providing the right price to the former and an eclectic mix of salable products to convenience stores and grocery stores. Superstores like Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and others rarely buy from wholesalers, as they have their own warehouse distribution centers and ask manufacturers to make the deliveries directly to warehouses.
Different categories of C-store distributors critical to business
a. Food Distributors – The US Marketing Association defines distributors of food products as middlemen who carry out functions of both wholesalers and distributors who provide promotional support to manufacturers. Retailers expect grocery distributors to take an active part in sales by providing additional services like merchandising and bringing to them market news about the changing demand trends.
This form of specialized food distribution does not require too many distributors as different categories of products are bought together by them and distributed to retailers across a wide geographical area. As the manufacturers are assured that their products will reach the target customers and they do not have to worry about supply and distribution, they begin to work towards increasing demand by interacting with customers for feedback and improving products.
b. Convenience product distributors – Manufacturers of premium quality brands and general use goods have varied perspectives about how their products should be presented and sold by retailers. For beverage distribution manufacturers use both intensive and exclusive type of distribution to ensure that their brand value is maximized. Profits can be maximized if brand positioning of the beverage is done in a strategic manner to create a specific image for the product. Though most manufacturers would want to see their merchandise in stores across the state or nation, distribution is a gradual process if you try to expand market on your own. Manufacturers can take the assistance of Checkstand Program which is a distribution organization that takes the responsibility of marketing and distribution of new products after carrying out viability tests in designated stores.
c. Brokers and representatives – These distributors work directly with manufacturers as their representatives to promote and distribute their products in a particular geographical area. Depending on their agreement with the manufacturer they deal with one or several manufacturers at the same time. They are paid a certain amount as commission as they work hard to promote companies within different categories.
d. Specialty grocery distributors – With growing market for specialty foods new manufacturers are emerging in the market that cater to this niche category and sell through large grocery chains and also small specialty food stores. These distributors carry several brands though of the same food category and supply them across retailers in a wide market to build the brand and increase profits as most are sold with a markup.
Though a wide variety of distributors are available in the market today who can easily get your product into c-stores, selecting the right one is a tough decision as different stores have varied product and merchandising demands and it is difficult to get a footing in superstores. Direct marketing and indirect marketing methods have to be used to help sell your product through distributors, as then there will be a demand for your products when it reaches the convenience stores. As a manufacturer of grocery products you can take the assistance of wholesale grocery distributor in your area by contacting them through phone and email to distribute your product.
Selecting distributor as a manufacturer of specialty grocery
a. Determine your target customers – As a manufacturer of specialty products you will have to identify stores that stock such product and also the kind of clientele that will purchase them. Once you have that information it is easy to identify distributors who will service these stores after which you have to present the product to them for distribution.
b. Identify distributors to match your long term needs – Instead of engaging the services of regular wholesale food suppliers look for people who are experienced in selling your kind of product and understand its unique value. If the distributor is dealing with specialty products for a long time and has helped increase the market for such products in local and statewide markets then he is the right person for your business.
c. Get references – As you are venturing into a niche area, conduct a thorough market study to understand the challenges in marketing and distribution. Attend trade fairs and check with peers about distributors they can refer for your business which can help meet the long term challenges. In the challenging world of food distribution you have to struggle hard to find a foothold for your brand amidst local and international brands.
Finding the right distributor today may be a confusing task, but it is not too difficult as we now have the technology which can help us get information with the click of a mouse button. With the help of internet based information you can easily identify potential distributors in the area who can help expand your business and establish the brand too.