When it comes to beverages consumers find on retail shelves, there's hardly any backstory taken into consideration during the purchase decision. After all, that's not the job of the consumer to wonder where the products come from or if there's an origin story attached to it. That job falls on the retailer itself to ensure the products are where they need to be each and every day to keep that supply chain moving. And, those retailers are our customers. Our DSD model - direct store delivery - ensures retailers have those beverages consumers want. The origin story is on us.
What is a DSD Model?
Direct store delivery according to MWPVL International, "... is the term used to describe a method of delivering product from a supplier/distributor directly to a retail store, thereby bypassing a retailer's distribution center. DSD products are typically, but not always, fast-turning, high velocity, and high consumer demand merchandise."
At Bernick's, DSD is our business model. Boiled down, it means we handle the product category for customers from beginning to end. The customer doesn't have to worry about ordering, warehousing, inventory, merchandising, or unloading any of our products. As far as categories go, any and all liquid refreshment beverages pertain including:
- Carbonated soft drinks (CSD)
- Ready to drink coffee (RTD)
- Flavored malt beverages
Bernick's handles the forecasting and storage of the inventory. We handle shipments and loading the trucks. Our sales team takes the orders. We deliver it to stores, our drivers, merchandisers, and sales team "merchandise" the products, essentially making them sales-ready and consumer-facing. We'll build a thematic display and create the proper POS and marketing materials to generate awareness and buzz to appeal to shoppers. It's an end-to-end facilitation.
Adding Value to Our Partnership
The opposite of DSD is the warehouse system. It's a drop and go transaction where product is delivered en masse to loading docks and warehouses. The onus is then on retailers and stores to get the product onto shelves and floors. Those stores are tasked with ordering, forecasting, unloading, inventory, and marketing. Think of the manpower in that equation. The store personnel then handles the stocking, displays, POS, merchandising, and inventory that’s necessary. Grocery stores can be strapped, often faced with labor challenges within that industry.
Our goal is to add value to the customer by managing the entire process so they don’t have to. It’s very important that we put the customer first in this model. It’s really about facilitating success for customers and helping them sell our products. Our products are valuable to consumers, and product placement and looking sharp and dressing them up is about the trust our customers place upon us within their stores. It’s their territory and turf. If our vision isn’t about their success we’re doing it wrong. The level of trust we have from store owners, managers, and staff is incredible. They give our team the keys to their stores for accessibility. It’s a lot of responsibility and we strive to live up to that honor and accountability.
DSD Takes a Team
DSD is more service-driven than it is portfolio-driven, though we take great pride in our brands we carry. It’s really about the business model.
For illustration, we have about 660 employees. If we used a warehouse model, we’d need a third of those people. Warehouse delivery is about picking by pallet; Bernick’s picks by case. It takes a team and careful planning and orchestrating to maintain a successful business model. Day in and day out, we've got people in the system fully vested in the work we do. In the St. Cloud area alone, that crew includes:
- 27 area managers
- 24 account reps
- 27 merchandisers
- 41 drivers
And that doesn't include everyone else behind the scenes in the offices and various departments. It takes everyone.
This is how we add value to our customers. Sometimes I believe we take it for granted. “It’s just what we do” can be the mentality and as the business gets more competitive (and our customers see more competition within their industries as well), it’s critical that we continue to foster the value we add to our process. It’s easy to fill the shelves, right?
It’s more difficult to understand our customers’ unique challenges or pain points and come up with a solution to each. If our model suddenly or gradually becomes an order taking mechanism as means to fill the shelf or replenish inventory, that looks a lot like the warehouse model. We lose the opportunity to look at each customers’ industry and store as individual components of business.
Holistically, we understand our customers’ mission, visions, and values and we support their goals. We can co-develop programs that will complement what they’re trying to achieve. Now we’re a partner. Our goal is to have more intimate relationships with our customers instead of transactional ones. From an execution standpoint, we want to differentiate ourselves from other DSD competitors by bringing extra value. We can treat their stores like it’s our own. And we do.