Beer distribution isn’t really about distributing (the action of sharing something out among a number of recipients), it is about power. Who gets in the door? How much? Where? How often? These are the only questions that constantly gnaw at the executives of Big Beer. Seriously, they toss and turn in their coffins all day thinking about it.
Amid the Big Beer power struggle, unfair distribution contracts and local political wrangling for more control, craft breweries need all of the help they can get, especially when they maintain that power for themselves and self-distribute. This is what we like about Opentapp, an app designed to allow smaller manufacturers and retailers to capitalize on self-distribution by networking, utilizing location services and e-commerce to allow direct transactions between retailers and manufacturers. Here’s a little background from the Opentapp team:
“Opentapp was created by brewers (The Massachusetts Bay Colony Brewers). In our endeavor to start our own brewery we ran into several dead ends trying to secure a distributor and decided to pursue self-distribution. We found that there needed to be a way for local manufacturers to network with local retailers in order to get their products out.”
Opentapp allows retailers to manage their self-distributing contracts and even place orders to local manufacturers to receive products the same day. The application also gives retailers the ability to search for and order craft spirits on their smartphone. All self-distributed products in one area are combined onto one online order sheet, making the app easier than dealing with multiple paper order sheets, excel documents, or email chains. The convenience of the application should boost sales for breweries trying to pick up new contracts.
Look, the three-tier system, despite the ugly power struggles, is actually pretty useful for craft breweries on the whole (at least at the moment). Independent brewers have a much better shot at getting their products to travel far and wide and sit on a retail shelf than an independent creator of, say, toothpaste or mustard. But the craft brewing industry and the demand for craft beer have both grown at an insane rate — a rate that the post-Prohibition distribution solution doesn’t have all of the answers for.
But to be a reality, Opentapp needs some help. The team recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, with a goal of raising $60,000 to fund creation of the application. Head to the page and see what it is all about.