The pandemic has bought the role of all supply chain participants into sharp relief for many Australians, however in petrol convenience, where deep product offerings are combined with ever evolving new product lines and local delivery pressures, the importance of the ‘into store’ element of the supply chain has never been far from operators minds.  Where a local food and grocery distributor is more than a supplier, they are a partner in success, operators are seeking more than just range and price, they are seeking service.  Long term member and supporter of ACAPMA, The Distributors delivers national coverage, extensive range, competitive price and unbeatable service, and are the focus of this weeks ACAPMA Partner Highlight.

Context:  Distribution is local too!

As the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 evolved with the bourgeoning pandemic, to the point that now, two years later stock shortages are hitting everything from meat to computer chips, Australians everywhere have become increasingly aware of the role of the whole supply chain, including the vital ‘into store’ element, in ensuring that the products they want are available when they want them.

It is often said that convenience is local, that has not changed, but it would be equally accurate to argue that Distribution is local too.  While the customer demand is likely to change, ebb and flow, depending on the unique local demographics of a store, those same local characteristics are a challenge to fulfilling those demands.

Australia is a wide and often sparsely populated country, and the amazing efficiencies that can be achieved in supply chains in major cities, are eroded and often completely evaporated, when translated to a suburban or regional setting.

With petrol and convenience retail being characterised by deep product lines, as well as a showcase for new and emerging items ensuring consistent, affordable access to food, beverage and grocery items is vital to a sites success.  Despite this imperative, it is unlikely that the site will be able to arrange for direct deliveries from all of their suppliers (even in the very rare case that they have direct relationships with all of the suppliers).

When faced with this dilemma, many sites turn to local distributors, who aggregate products and “milk run” them out to sites and stores, allowing the sites to have the benefit of wide and deep product ranges at a price point that takes advantage of the capacity for the distributor to order in bulk to the distribution centre.

This concept of a distributor running a distribution centre that then services multiple smaller stores and sites is not new, but for the distributor and site to achieve success it is something that requires detailed understanding of the fuel retail sites, the pressures they face, their needs and timeframes.

 The Distributors:  National Coverage, Local Service

The aptly named distribution provider – The Distributors – have been providing this vital service to the petrol and convenience retail market for over 40 years.

The Distributors are a network, or collective, of 35 businesses each member owning and operating warehouses and distribution centres in their area and delivering to, and for, their retail operator clients.

Partnering with over 200 suppliers across the confectionary, beverage, snack food and grocery categories, The Distributors work with the suppliers to execute petrol and convenience promotional programs and ranging.

“Our mantra is National Coverage, Local Service, and it cannot be overstated how important that local element is” explains The Distributors CEO George Tsapoutas.

“We are family owned businesses.  We are local to the area.  We completely understand the pressures our customers face day to day” adds George.

The Distributors specialise in beverages, confectionery, snacks, grocery and customer service, being recognised and awarded repeatedly for exceptional service to the industry.

“Our service is about more than getting the product into store.  Our network work with our customers to ensure promotional rollout is optimal and provide ranging and layout assistance” adds George.

The Distributors:  Going the extra mile

“We are committed to delivering for our customers.  We are competitive on price, we offer a deep and wide range, but you absolutely cant go past our service” adds George.

“The story I often tell is of one of our customers who was doing a community event on a Sunday and found that they forgot to order a box of a particular chocolate bar.  They called their Distributor, who, being a small business, took the call, popped into the warehouse and grabbed the box, put it into the back of his car and drove it over to the event.  That is the kind of service you don’t get from the average product delivery service.  Our Distributors are local, family business operators and they live and work in these communities too, they go the extra mile for their customers” continues George.

One of The Distributors network, JB Metropolitan Distributors, was highlighted recently for displaying this commitment to going above and beyond for their customers.  Local fuel retailer Eddy Nader (Urbanista) was gearing up for the Christmas crazy time when his ice supplier called with devastating news.  “Four of his drivers had caught COVID, while the other warehouse staff had been placed in isolation as close contacts.  I was not going to get any ice for Christmas because he couldn’t get it to me.  This is our busiest time for ice all year.  I put in a call to our local confectionery and frozen supplier, Steven Hochbaum from JB Metro, and let him know I was in trouble and could I please borrow one of his freezer trucks for a couple of days to get my ice.  Steve didn’t blink.  He didn’t even hesitate.  He said ‘come pick it up and keep it with you until the New Year’” explains Eddy.

“I really feel for our ice supplier, Lidcombe Ice, they have supplied us for over 30 years and I know they did not ask for COVID shortages to impact my deliveries.  But thanks to the amazing support of JB Metro, and the cooperation of Lidcombe Ice, I was able to keep the stores stocked and selling ice.  That kind of loyalty and support is something you never forget.  That is service you never walk away from.  I can’t thank JB Metro, Steven and the whole Spiteri family enough.  Us small businesses need to support each other and stick together” adds Eddy.

Going the extra mile is part of The Distributors DNA, it is inherent in their model.  “The foundation of what we do is maintain relationships and service.  We care.  These customers are our friends, they are part of our communities and we will always bend over backwards to get them what they need to keep them moving, selling and successful” adds George.

The Distributors:  Outages and Opportunities

The pandemic has resulted in pressures and challenges to all supply chains, and The Distributors have felt this too, however it has also bought opportunities.

“The pandemic has brought the focus back to shopping local, and P & C is at the forefront of this opportunity.  The challenge for all of us is to keep that consumer coming back.  To encourage them to continue to shop local.  To achieve this all of us; Retailer, Supplier and Distributors need to work together to focus on having the right product in the right location at the right time at the right price, so that our consumers continue to shop, support and seek local”  says George.

The Distributors:  Learn More or Get Involved

With 35 members there is a The Distributor local to you.  To learn more reach out to the national team who will put you in contact with your local Distributor;

ACAPMA Partners

ACAPMA Partners are product, service and technology suppliers to the wholesale and retail petrol and convenience industry and their support of the Association allows for ACAPMA to continue its critical services for all ACAPMA Members.  To learn more about all of the ACAPMA Partners and what they can offer industry, or to explore Partnership please visit; https://acapma.com.au/partnership/

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)
ACAPMA

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