The Three Tier System Can (And Will) Work for Everyone

June 14, 2017

Every day I talk to around three to four Makers about LibDib. Makers who have products on the platform, some who just signed up and others who are exploring their options. I love telling them my long term vision for LibDib and I always share a couple of stories about how LibDib came to be.

When I worked in sales and marketing at my family’s winery there was a consistently frustrating moment for me that happened on a regular basis. A Friendly Retailer from Any State, USA, would leave me a voicemail. Friendly Retailer received a request from a customer for our latest and greatest wine. He wanted to bring in a case for this customer and then begin looking at our other wines. Then the inevitable question: “Who is your distributor in Any State?”

My heart would sink. Why? Because we didn’t have a distributor in Any State, USA. I couldn’t send said Friendly Retailer a case directly because of the legalities of the three-tier system. Sadness would set in. I would call Friendly Retailer back and explain the situation. His ultimate goal was (and always is) to help a customer get what they want. So, he would then give me a list of three or four distributors that he liked and worked with, saying, “Hey, you should call them!”

Early in my career, I would get super excited….of course I would call all of them! And I thought for sure I’d get distribution because I had a buyer ready to go!

Well, that scenario literally never worked out for me. I would call. If I got a call back there would be a long, long process of sending samples and waiting for the tasting committee to try the wines. Weeks, sometimes months would go by. Upon follow up, two big IFs would be at play:

IF the distributor does not have a competing product in the same price point (unlikely due to the huge proliferation of brands out there and the shrinking number of wholesalers).

IF they are taking on new brands.

IF we got to the next step, we would go on to pricing, marketing dollars and support, a market visit, presenting at the sales meetings and then visiting the market 3 to 4 times a year to work the market and drum up sales.

Wow, that’s some serious up front costs and time (small producer = wears many hats = not a lot of time) to get a case to a retailer that wants to buy it. And by now, at least 2 to 3 months would pass and the retailer would have recommended something else to their customer and moved on.

As Founder and CEO of LibDib, here’s what I want: I want a someone who lives this same scenario to go to LibDib.com. This producer (a distillery, a winery, brewery etc.) looks at the platform and sees a list of all 50 states. They click on Every State, USA, in which Friendly Retailer is located. They enter their products, they enter their pricing. Maybe they have to wait a day or two, or even a few weeks for compliance. But then….like magic, they have distribution in Any State, USA. They send a personal invitation (check out the new invitation feature training video HERE!) from the platform to Friendly Retailer, who logs on and the first thing they see is the product they requested. A few clicks, and the case is on the way, straight from the winery (maybe a stop and a “rest” depending on laws, but that’s a detail we deal with).

This may sound like fantasy, but a few months into our LibDib launch, this scenario is actually a reality. Granted LibDib is only in California and New York for the time being but these are our first markets. The platform is working and Makers and RB&Rs are joining our platform daily.

Excuse my French, but this is cool shit. We have happy producer, happy retailer, happy customer. The three-tier system works well in this scenario and everyone gets what they want! Yay!

One final thought. Imagine a brand-new producer. All green and excited and ready to take on the world with their awesome new wine/craft gin/vodka/stout. They log on to LibDib.com, pick 10 states they want to sell their products in. Products are priced, submitted and compliance stuff happens. Boom. New stuff is available to buyers within weeks. Oh and don’t forget the LibDib convenience of posting your products once, sales materials all in one place, no aging inventory at distributor warehouse, as well as the ability to work directly with buyers.

Distribution, done differently. Let’s do this!