Distributors provide a critical link between manufacturers and retailers. Brandon Mayer, Senior Director of National Convenience Sales, shares insights for a successful partnership built on strategy and expertise.
What is your overall strategy for helping convenience stores work with distributors?
We work with our distributor partners to create a blueprint for retailers to implement. Distributors are a big piece of our business; they serve as a foundation for how we get our product to many of our independent and chain stores. We focus on distribution first and promotion second. We want to make sure that every distributor is carrying the assortment that the consumer relies on in the convenience channel. Next, we want to make sure distributors and retailers are working together to get those items into the stores and placed in the right location.
How can c-stores—independent or chains—build relationships with distributors?
It’s about asking good questions and engaging above and beyond a friendly hello. First, independent retailers should understand what insights, data and services are available through their distributor. The distributor partners with retailers to ensure they can provide the consumer with the assortment and experience they are looking for in a store. Second, they can engage with their distributor by asking key questions including do we have the top-selling items? Is my planogram set appropriately? How is my store executing against programs and innovation compared to the market?
Trade shows are also great opportunities. Distributors across the country host trade shows at the regional level. We encourage retailers, especially independent stores, or small chains, to attend these shows to build relationships with distributors and set up a time to meet at the Hershey booth to understand how we can help.
Chains should focus on asking the right questions too, from planogram integrity to key promotions that manufacturers are offering. Retailers can also partner with distributors and manufacturers to develop a calendar that will provide growth for their stores. The retailers can also leverage national media programming to drive increased store sales through merchandising and in-store activation during the program windows.
What role do distributors play in terms of innovation?
Innovation is a key part of our business, and we work with our distributors to get those first deliveries to c-stores. We typically set up innovation bundles or they can get innovation through our AMP Convenience Store Program. Distributor teams will work with stores to ensure that the innovation is in the right location in the store, as it hits the market.
Tell us more about Hershey’s AMP Convenience Store Program. How can stores leverage Hershey’s expertise?
Hershey has a turnkey program for 2023 called AMP (Achieve Maximum Points) that rewards retailers for carrying top-selling items and executing our marketing events in their convenience stores. Our goal is to help each store exceed its goals with a winning strategy. We have added a lot of flexibility to our new 2023 AMP program, we utilized feedback from our distributor and retailer partners to build the program.
In addition to The Hershey AMP program our Sales, Retail and Category Management teams collaborate with our distributor and retail partners to ensure they have everything they need to build a winning plan for growth.
This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company