The British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) Wholesale has implemented several measures to ensure a smooth flow of products from warehouses to retail stores and hospitality establishments. One critical measure is known as allocations and cross-docks, which ensures that certain customers receive new or limited high-demand products. Agents use this process to meet customers’ needs and to manage retailer and hospitality customers’ expectations. To demonstrate how it works, we will walk through the process of selling an allocated Champagne to a private retail store. The process is the same for a hospitality account.
Securing an Allocation
The first step is to secure an allocation through the agent representing the Champagne you want to order. The agent might have limited cases available, and there may be certain restrictions depending on the channel: hospitality, private retail, BC Liquor Stores. The agent will contact a private retail account to offer them a number of cases of the Champagne. This is usually done before the wine arrives in the province. For an order expected to arrive in October, the agent will assemble a purchase order in May or June. When a retailer agrees to the allocation, LDB Wholesale tracks the product based on the agent’s direction to ensure the product arrives at the designated store.
Cross-Docking the Order
All allocated products are cross-docked, meaning the product is non-orderable. After receiving the allocated Champagne from an agent’s warehouse, LDB Wholesale cross-docks the Champagne so that it cannot be ordered by another customer. Once the cross-dock paperwork is complete, the retailer receives an order submission report showing the allocated products are slated for their next delivery.
“The process of allocating and cross-docking is crucial for distributing high-demand products.”
The Role of Agents
The process of allocating and cross-docking is crucial for distributing high-demand products, like Champagne, throughout BC. Agents play an important role in securing allocations for customers, coordinating with LDB Wholesale on cross-docks, and meeting retailers’ needs. Licensees rely on this process to access a wide range of products that can improve their business offerings. By optimizing this process, retailers can be assured of a reliable supply.
Customer Specific Products
Another way to safeguard inventory is through Customer Specific Products (CSPs). CSPs are products that are warehoused by the agent for a specific group of stores or hospitality customers. Only approved licensees are authorized to order these products, through the agent’s direction. The agent provides LDB Wholesale with a list of approved customers, and Wholesale ensures that only those customers have ordering access to the CSPs.
Collaborating with agents to secure allocations of high-demand products is crucial for retailers and hospitality customers. Allocations, cross-docks, and CSPs allow hospitality and retail businesses to offer their customers a wider selection of products, and peace of mind. The allocation and cross-docking process not only helps grow a thriving industry but also ensures that Champagne enthusiasts can enjoy their favourite bubbles during the holidays. Let’s work together to make this happen.
Ted Latimer is Executive Director of the Import Vintners & Spirits Association