The Oenophiliac

Bringing you stories from the world of wine and beer.

Harpers Indie blog: Mike Matthews on uniformity among suppliers

Independent wine retailers, like all other businesses, need to keep a close eye on the paperwork. A missed invoice here, a final demand there won’t keep you trading for long. In short, lousy admin makes for a terrible, money draining business! What happens though when the admin has been taken out of your hands by other parties?

As independents we are lucky to be able to merchandise our stores to suit our customers’ needs. We can react quickly to changes in wine trends. The drawback to this is the necessity to use multiple suppliers. Each one of these companies adopts a different system through ordering to invoice. The communication levels with some firms leave a lot to be desired. Having to chase suppliers for invoices is a time-consuming business. Now I’m not saying all are bad. Hatch Mansfield recently got my vote for Supplier of the year. They listen and work intently with their clients, meanwhile everything is done on time.

Now you’d think it would be an easy process? You call your rep, or email sales, with the order. Twenty four to 48 hours later a delivery turns up with invoice attached, including correct costs as agreed by your rep; alternatively an email has been sent by the sales department on day of delivery. Finally you book the delivery in to your relevant systems.  Stock control procedures have been adhered to, invoices filed and up to date. Simples!

No, this will happen: your delivery turns up with delivery note attached. If it’s wrong then you have to call the supplier. At which point a credit note may be issued; if it’s correct, then great! Next you call up the supplier, asking for an invoice to be emailed, reminding them ‘why do I have to keep asking for invoices?’ You finally get your paperwork only to notice cost prices are wrong. Another phone call is made yet to find your rep, again, has failed in his/her duty to comply with the agreed price. Another credit note gets issued. Upon further inspection, and headaches, you have to add the individual duty costs too.

Uniformity amongst suppliers with invoicing isn’t too much to ask, is it? Too many man hours are spent having to chase people up. Totally unnecessary!

Story by Me!

Featured in Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review Top Merchant Newsletter. Also online in the Top Merchant – Business Advice Section

One comment on “Harpers Indie blog: Mike Matthews on uniformity among suppliers

  1. whineandcheersforwine
    July 20, 2012

    Sorry to hear dealing with distributors is as frustrating there as it is in the US. Don’t even get me started on “credits” from what are usually errors made by them or the process itself. Fortunately/unfortunately not working for an “independant” [as in my case] may help in standardizing the process of dealing with multiple distributors but that said both scenarios seem to have their own plusses and minuses. To think I’ve only been dealing with our suppliers for 2 months, LOL.
    Thank you for sharing.


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