The beverage distribution business has changed almost overnight. Today’s consumers are demanding a wide variety of craft beer and distributors that meet this demand will continue to grow market share and offer more items per stop.
But just when you thought you had the proliferation of SKU’S under control, here comes craft beer in cans. It doesn’t seem to be a likely pairing, but you’d be surprised by the benefits of cans to bottles.
Convenience: We’ll start with the sheer convenience factor. Cans are far superior to bottles in terms of portability, being much lighter and easier to transport, won’t break, and are allowed in places bottles aren’t.
Freshness: Arguably, cans keep beer fresher for longer. Sunlight and oxygen are the enemies of freshness in beer. Aluminum cans protect the beer from oxidation in a way that glass bottles cannot sustain over long periods of time.
Improved Cans: While the evolvement of cans has been incremental, recent measures to improve their functionality has changed the way beer drinkers are reacting to canned beer. Have you seen the re-sealable cans now on the market? Take a look at the new Sam Can from the Boston Beer Company!
Canning Industry: The industry has adopted new methods, including mobile canning operations, taking up much less space than the bottling process and less upfront costs. Because of the lighter weight – nearly 30% lighter than bottles and the cheaper shipping and the ease of warehouse storage has helped this movement take hold.
Consumers: A new generation of beer drinkers want sustainable products, which are better for the environment. Cans are easier to recycle.
As more and more brewers venture into the world of cans, the return on investment will only continue to expand for the craft beer industry. Currently, more than 520 craft breweries in more than 40 states have encouraged the canned revolution, accounting for 10% of the total craft beer volume and it’s going to increase.
- More pick slots will be needed
- More split case picking will occur
- Systems will need to be more flexible
- New technologies will have to be implemented so you can pick multiple orders at a time, with more speed and better accuracy
- Pick Modules (two to three levels high) will get you more SKU locations in less floor space
- Conveyors added to these Pick Modules will increase speed in the order picking process
Change is going to be a fact of life in the beverage industry. Are you ready? Talk to your Material Handling Systems Integrator for more ideas.