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January 31, 2007 | Direct-To-Trade | WineDirect Admin

Inertia’s Direct-to-Trade Program Announces More States Available

Today, almost two months to the day after we made our first official public announcement, Inertia Beverage Group announced several more states that we are opening up for our groundbreaking Direct-to-Trade initiative.

You can find the article at Winebusiness.com and we’ll have it on the press section of our site when the press release is released to a general audience.

“Opening up” is hardly a technical term. Really what it means is we have completed our due diligence and made the proper arrangements to facilitate a winery beginning to sell directly into a given state to a retailer or a restaurateur. There’s more work that goes on behind the scenes, however, to get a winery prepared to do business.

But, I like to think of ourselves as infrastructure and marketing partners to help a winery navigate the maze of information and set-up required to allow them the ability to sell winery direct to a trade account.

So, when wineries see these sorts of notices in the trade press we hope it prompts a conversation about beginning to develop a trade strategy to complement what is already presumably in place—a consumer direct strategy.

Several more of these press releases will occur over the next couple of months as we fill out and formalize the relationships we anticipate having in many states.

One of the key things we have learned and continue to glean insight from is how people take in the Direct-to-Trade initiative via a press release or publicly available information; how the program is processed mentally by people, when they have their ‘a-ha’ moment and the point in time where they make it their own.

There is an element of a “wisdom of crowds” mentality where people are beginning to have brand ownership of the idea and the project. The romance period and affinity for the project tends to happen quickly, too. The most frequent response I get from all factions in the supply chain—wineries, distributors and retailers is, “Cool. Great idea. How can I be a part of it?”

This is certainly good as we expect that retailers interested in finding small, artisan wines that are not currently distributed in their state will seek out new and interesting wines that can be sourced with this complementary winery-direct program.

I mention complementary because our Direct-to-Trade initiative isn’t a replacement for or even a competitor to the existing three-tier system. It’s complementary, it’s an adjunct, and it is a way for a winery to access a market where they can’t secure a traditional distribution relationship or choose not to have one for any number of reasons production or marketing related.

A couple of people, mostly a few online wine denizens, have viewed the previous press release with its mention of partnering with distributors as “old wine in new bottles” couching their discussions with asides and three-tier bashing. There seems to be a lingering debate in the industry between parties in the three-tier value chain. I can tell you that, organizationally, we’re here to solve problems and not be philosophical arbitrators of age old challenges. We truly believe that we’re leading a revolution of change in creating a new channel for wineries.

That said, I have found the many small distributors that we are working with to be tremendous winery advocates that love the idea of a winery developing their brand in an incubator of sorts, while affording the winery the control that will help them lead their own business development. Of the dozens of distributor relationships that we have in place, all of them, to a person, see this as an exciting opportunity to be a part of a groundbreaking program that can assist everybody’s goal—making high-quality, small brand wine available to more people, at the places they are looking to buy them—retail and restaurants.

Old wine in new bottles? Hardly. More like, “Cool. Great Idea. How can I be a part of it?”

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