By James Atkinson
News of Moët Hennessy’s move into online retailing of its products attracted unprecedented web traffic to TheShout on Friday, illustrating that suppliers selling direct to consumers remains an emotionally charged issue for the liquor industry.
Veteran retailer Mal Higgs told TheShout that the issue of suppliers selling direct to consumers has been around for decades.
“What has usually happened is that once a supplier recognises that they cannot do the job as well as a network of retailers, they have tended to abandon the practice,” he said.
“From a retailer’s perspective, the issue really is one of principle – why should he or she support a supplier who is actively competing with them for the same consumer?”
Higgs said retailers are making decisions every day about what they range, how much they buy and how they will promote to their customers.
“Obviously there are many considerations that make up those various decisions, and one of them would inevitably be what they think of the policies of the supplier they are choosing to support,” he said.
Higgs said he could understand the amount of retailer angst about Moët’s decision to sell direct.
“When a supplier is selling a product like Moët at a price that is actually lower than most retailers pay for it, you can expect them to be upset and take whatever action they deem to be appropriate,” he said.
“At the end of the day, retailers and suppliers should be working together to deliver products and services to consumers in such a way as they can all make some money."
Some liquor retailers are also aggrieved by a new direct-to-consumer wine retail website that has the backing of the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA).