A distributor is the liaison between the retailer and the manufacturer. Some distributors specialize in multiple brands and others specialize in a single brand. The brands you choose to purchase depends on what your customers expect from your business. Choosing the right food distributor is essential to keeping your stock up to par with demand, whether you run a grocery store, restaurant or convenience stores.
Make a list of all the food products that you intend to carry. Separate them into columns of those items that are in high demand and those in low demand. The high-demand items will be your priority shopping list.
Create your inventory budget. Determine how much you can spend on inventory and still remain profitable.
Talk to others who buy from distributors and find out about their experiences.
Look for distributors in your own area. Supporting local distributors can have a positive impact on your area, which could result in recycling your investment into a distribution relationship right back into your pockets.
Contact sales representatives at your top prospective distributors. You can search their websites for contact information.
Compare the prices of distributors that meet your most important criteria. Review their inventory online, if they have it available there, or request a catalog to review. Compare the items you are most likely going to buy the most of.
Compare shipping policies and the average time from order placement to inventory receipt.
Ask the distributor to provide you with customer testimonials. Some are available online. Be aware that when they submit testimonials to you, they will only submit the best of the bunch to you. Read between the lines for what’s not being mentioned.
Work out service level agreements that specify your expectations about delivery times and penalties for service failures. Consider shipping options that are most convenient for you.
- “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Bar”; Steve Johns, Carey Rossi; 2008
- “Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket”; Brian Halweil; 2004
Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.