As part of modernizing Ohio’s Liquor Enterprise, the Division of Liquor Control has been working on many fronts to improve the experience for all stakeholders. While over the past year much of the news about these efforts has focused on the upgrade of the technology infrastructure, also known as Phase 2 of the Liquor Modernization Project, the Division also has been working on improving other important aspects of the Liquor Enterprise.
One area of interest to bars and restaurants is steps taken by the Division to ensure access to the products customers want. Because being able to meet the demands of patrons is so important for a business’s success, it’s also an important priority for the Division. While the Division can’t control those few-and-far-between production issues that suppliers are bound to face or those products with a limited allocation, there are other matters the Division is able to control. Below are several steps the Division is taking to ensure that bars and restaurants have access to the products they need.
Accessing Specialty Products
Last fall, the Division looked at the more than 3,000 products available in Ohio, and removed a portion of slow-moving products from availability. This Warehouse Inventory Reduction was initiated because there was very little demand for the identified products. Feedback from Contract Liquor Agencies indicated they were receiving products that weren’t selling, which was taking up valuable space on their store shelves and in stock rooms.
But bars and restaurants responded, indicating that they needed some products that don’t have a close substitute, also referred to as specialty products, for craft cocktails that are central to their business. And the Division listened.
We’re excited about changes that now allow us to provide bars and restaurants the specialty products they need to keep up with the demand of patrons, while helping Agencies keep inventory in check and avoid oversupply. A new strategy will make some of these products available at strategic regional Agencies across the state. These Agencies will carry an inventory of specialty products to make them available to permit holders. Wholesale accounts (as well as the public in general) will be able to purchase these specialty products at any of these Agencies; regular wholesale orders must still go through their assigned Agency.
The Division is working with wholesale accounts, brokers and suppliers to identify the products that are being used and that don’t have a natural substitute in order to develop a list of specialty products that will be made available through this process. More details, including timing and a list of products and Agencies where the products will be available for purchase, will be provided soon. Watch this publication and the Division’s other communication vehicles for more information.
Planning for Holidays and Events
Summer brings warm weather, local events and holidays, leading to increased demand. To prepare for this, the Division increases Contract Liquor Agencies’ shipments of seasonal products as well as products overall to ensure there is adequate supply for both wholesale and retail customers. Examples of this include supplementing shipments of Irish whiskey prior to St. Patrick’s Day, increasing the supply in Agencies that support the Memorial Tournament, and providing Value Add Packages for all Agencies around the holidays.
This process will become easier with Phase 2 of the Liquor Modernization Process. The new system gives the Liquor Enterprise, Contract Liquor Agencies, and brokers and suppliers a single system view of near real-time inventory information, allowing for a quick response when supplies of a certain product is low.
Also, changes to the Liquor Enterprise distribution network will increase the efficiency and accuracy of deliveries to Contract Liquor Agencies, making it easier to get products to where wholesale and retail customers purchase them. The first change is the consolidation of four warehouses into two new facilities. The second change is a new warehouse management provider. DHL, a world-class global organization with U.S. headquarters in Westerville, Ohio, has been selected as the new warehouse management provider. DHL has experience with spirituous liquor and manages supply chain processes in New Hampshire and the Province of Alberta, Canada. The company’s reputation with Suppliers is strong in both regions. In addition, DHL is well positioned to meet aggressive Liquor Modernization Project (LMP) timelines, with experience launching more than 450 new warehouses a year.
Efficient operation of the Liquor Enterprise is important to all stakeholders. Finding ways to make it easier for stakeholders to run their businesses benefits consumers, those businesses and the state. The Division is committed to doing what it can to facilitate business. Ideas and feedback from stakeholders are always welcomed and encouraged.