Food and Beverage Distributor

4 Steps to Finding the Right Distributor for your Convenience Store

Wholesale distributors buy products from manufacturers and then warehouse those products until they are able to resell them to retailers (e.g. convenience stores), or directly to the end user (customer). Without distributors, retailers would have empty shelves and empty registers, and the same bland product selection. That is why it’s extremely important for storeowners to choose the right distributor for their business.

The task of choosing the right distributor for your convenience store can seem overwhelming at first, but there are four steps you can take to make the process easier and less stressful for all involved.


Step 1. Determine the needs of your convenience store. 

            The first step in the process is to determine the needs of your convenience store. These needs include (but are not limited to) what products you want to sell, what price you want to sell those products for, how often you will need deliveries/restocking, etc. Knowing what your store specifically needs will help with the following steps.


Step 2. Consider and evaluate distributor options.

             The next step in the process is to consider and evaluate your distributor options.

Before you can evaluate them, you need to compile a list of all possible distributors you could use. To make this list you can use resources such as the Internet, referrals and references from other business owners, attending trade shows, listings in trade show publications and more.

After you have your list of potential distributors, evaluate each one based on criteria such as their geographical reach, their capacity and flexibility for deliveries, the speed of their deliveries, the overall quality of their delivery, etc. Some helpful questions when evaluating distributors are:

  1. Are they able to deliver to your geographical location?
  2. How many products are they able to warehouse and deliver in a given amount of time? (Capacity)
  3. Based on reviews and comments, does this distributor seem to have a high quality of delivery (are products delivered on time and in good condition)?
  4. Do their core values and goals align with your company’s values and goals? (Remember, this will be a partnership between you and the distributor, so it’s important to make sure you both are compatible.)

Your evaluation of each alternative doesn’t have to be limited to the questions listed above. Any criteria that you deem important to your business should be used to evaluate each distributor.


Step 3. Identify which distributor’s services match up with the needs of your store.

             Once you’ve evaluated all of your distributor options, go through and figure out

which alternative best matches the needs of your convenience store that you determined in step 1. For example, any distributors on your list that do not or cannot deliver to your geographical location should be crossed off.


Step 4. Choose your distributor.

After going through the previous three steps, you should be ready to make the final decision – choosing the distributor that best matches the specific needs of your convenience store. If you’re still not 100% sure about which distributor to choose, go through step 2 again and evaluate each alternative based on extended criteria. If you’re stuck trying to decide between a few options, conduct more research on each distributor and try to find any other information that would help to solidify your decision.


Determining and choosing the right distributor is extremely important to the success of your convenience store, so take your time, be thorough in your evaluations of each option and choose the one you feel best suits the needs of your store. Hopefully you and the distributor you choose will create a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.