Out of Stock Shock

There is nothing more upsetting to anyone who works in retail, than the words ‘Out of Stock’. To a consumer, it means they can’t buy the thing they want, and is sometimes no more than a mild inconvenience. To a trader, it can give us sleepless nights!

Thankfully the above scenario is on the wane, however there are still incidences of ‘Out of Stock’, at a time when our industry could do without them! The frustration is born out of the idea that all we (the supplier) needed to do was move some of our products from a heavily stocked warehouse to a retail outlet and thus expose them to the opportunity of being sold. Hey presto, we get the products we loved creating, into the hands of our customers. Every time we miss this opportunity our hearts sink. It’s one less delighted consumer created, one less repeat purchase, revenue not taken and lost margin for all in the supply chain.

At a time when our industry is really focused on commercialisation and making events pay, this is a still problem, right?

At Event Wine Solutions we have the pleasure of working with some outstanding bar operators – people that share our fears of opportunities lost. In this environment ‘out of stock’ means that, together, we’re not offering the carefully chosen range that was planned so meticulously ahead of the event. Can we really, hand on heart, say that every person that attended the event got the food they wanted, with the drink they wanted, at the right price and at the right time?

I’m fortunate enough to go to a large amount of events, learning all the time through talking to bar operators, food traders and consumers. The resulting feedback helps Event Wine Solutions create new products, based on this invaluable data. Indeed, every piece of consumer data that comes in over the summer shouts that people want more choice of wine at the bar. One each of Red, White and Rosé is no longer acceptable. This shouldn’t be surprising; in restaurants and bars the consumer has been educated into a real understanding of what a great wine range looks like.

Equally, we have a ‘millennial consumer’ that has no intention of showing any understanding of how difficult it is to get these choices in an outdoor environment; they want it, they expect it and are less forgiving that we ever were! This is an age that wants a myriad of cask and craft beers, ciders, 20 kinds of Gin and sees a wine range as a book rather than a leaflet.

If that is just the alcoholic beverage choice, I’m convinced it’s the same across the F&B offering. Are we offering the right ranges of soft drinks for families, or even non-alcoholic vs alcoholic drinks? We’re good at vegan, vegetarian and gluten, when it comes to food, maybe we need to offer more on the bar? There is much to learn more from the food revolution, which is driving a dining experience of the finest standard at festivals; more and more the food is a reason in itself to go to a festival, so why not the drink?

We’ve seen amazing examples of this over the summer. Consumers enjoying a Goan Fish Curry with an elegantly floral Viognier; a locally reared burger and duck fat fries with an intensely ripe and fruity Malbec. There are so many lovely food and drink combinations that work if we supply the right drinks, be it wine, cask ale or spirits. What isn’t in doubt is that if we supply the right ranges, they get bought.

There are serious revenue dynamics at play here. If we offer more choice, consumers will take that choice. If we offer higher cost items, they will be more inclined to buy middle range priced goods, if we offer large ranges, people will try them and return for more. There is opportunity in the increased profit margins of many specialist drinks, so it’s worth working with the right bar expert and to have these conversations. The end result means that our consumers have better experiences, and continue to judge the event by more than just what was on stage; this is important to the long term prosperity and stability of the industry.

Although we’ve seen some amazing examples of the bars working beautifully with the dynamic and demographic of the audiences this summer, we’ve also had to make isolated emergency deliveries to fulfil demand. This is great news, but proves that we underestimated demand. So, as the end of the season draws to a close, it’s also worth us remembering these lessons as we plan the next season of events.

Event organisers need as much stability in their businesses as possible and I’m passionate about the role that food and drink can play here. A positive approach to food creates a unique selling point and a brand statement about the festival that they are attending. It increases dwell time at the event, and overall satisfaction.

At a time when our industry is increasingly questioning itself over its commercialisation, F&B is a safe pair of hands, and one that organisers can rely on. Everyone needs to eat and drink, many come to festivals with the intention of enjoying great F&B alongside the entertainment.

For every ‘Out of Stock’ strikethrough on the bar tariff, we’ve missed both opportunity and revenue.

~ Paul Scaife, Founder of Event Wine Solutions