Richard Siddle: how wine merchants can benefit by working together
Being an independent retailer can, by definition, be a lonely plaace to be. Whilst being 100% responsible for your own business can bring great advantages it can also leave you glaringly exposed to making executive decisions you might not always be qualified or experienced enough to make.
Last week I was fortunate to spend a couple of days with a group of independent wine merchants who had travelled from all corners of the country to take part in a series of open debates organised by Hatch Mansfield.
The fact the merchants were willing to take two days out of their working week and travel hours to be there was testament to their desire and eagerness to hear and share ideas with fellow independents.
It proved to be an inspiring as well as creative meeting of minds. They may ultimately all be running the same kind of business but how they do it can be very different.
It was clear there were many trading areas where independents could benefit enormously from working closer together and understanding how each other work. Sharing information, for example, on which service providers to use for courier and dispatch, or the costs of freight forwarding, which credit card rates you can get, through to advice on finance and loans.
Unlike most small business sectors there is not a standalone, dedicated trade association for independents wine merchants responsible for looking after their interests. The closest would be the Association of Convenience Stores and I would urge any independent to look closely at what they do as you could benefit from a host of centrally negotiated deals in a number of the trading areas highlighted in last week’s Hatch Mansfield independent debate
It is why here at Harpers we remain committed to our Top Merchants programme where we are able to bring independents together eirher through live events or in print and online. Merchants can, for example, now sign up to our regular Top Merchants newsletter for latest news, views and bespoke business advice for their sector.
The Best Practice Guidelines for suppliers and independents we helped implement last year is a key part of trading terms being negotiated in the sector.
So please as an independent merchant sign up to our Top Merchants programme, get involved in the debates and seminars and newsletters - talk to each other on Twitter using the #indiewinemerchants hashtag - and together we can help ensure your sector has the information it needs to grow, expand and prosper in the months and years ahead.