What is Distribution Data?

Above all else, quality is the single most important determinant of draught beer sales performance. How can you know that you’re distributing products so customers receive beer the way you intended it to taste? How can you ensure quality from the moment a keg leaves your facility?

With the rise of brewing-tech over the last decade, draught distribution data has become an accessible tool for increasing quality. The newfound ability to monitor, track, and manage kegs through the distribution process provides the insight necessary to ensure that fresh beverages make their way through licensees. Although not all breweries have adopted the data-driven technologies available, those who do will be given the ability to optimize post-production distribution processes, better understand consumer preferences, and drive draught sales growth.

This article will explore the distribution data useful for ensuring draught beer quality – a key contributor to increasing the sales potential of your product.

Key Distribution Data Points

Your success in managing draught beer quality will depend on accurate keg fleet monitoring. Proactively filling, delivering, and returning kegs will ensure that fresh product is always where it needs to be and that the brewery has adequate capacity to meet demand. The first step to success, then, is always knowing where your kegs are.

1. Know Where Your Kegs Are

A detailed understanding of where your keg fleet is located, including both on-and-off-site storage and customer locations, will need to be established before any other draught distribution data can prove useful. By understanding where your kegs are, you’ll be able to proactively manage and move them to where they need to be. This will help your brewery in two ways:

First, it will allow you to monitor storage inventory levels for both empty and full containers. A detailed view of full-keg inventory levels will help you sell products more efficiently and reduce the risk of overselling units. A detailed view of empty-keg inventory levels will help you manage the fleet and ensure there are enough units available for production runs. In instances where you may be short on units come production time, you’ll know exactly where your units are located and can reel them in.

Second, the keg location data will allow you to actively monitor customer inventory levels. These data points will outline where each keg is, when it arrived, and how long it’s been sitting. Not only will these insights offer the ability to monitor deliveries and returns over time, they will also allow you to proactively pick up kegs as they pass their desired stay period.

Once you have reliable keg location data, you'll begin to understand the movement of your fleet. As the kegs are no more than a means of product transportation, it’s best that you begin to develop a data set of what lives inside them as well.

2. Know Your Keg Contents

The detailed data set showing keg locations will prove relatively unusable without an understanding of container contents. For inventory management, product planning, and post-production distribution purposes, it’s important to have as many details as possible. Here's why:

To start, keg content data will give you an opportunity to accurately track beer consumption and better plan future production runs. By pairing data that outlines the kegs entering and exiting various locations, with data outlining the contents of those very kegs, you can better understand the products in high demand. Additionally, you’ll be able to cross reference consumption data with licensee locations that kegs are returning from, offering insights into both the locations moving the most product and the products being moved.

With this new understanding, you’ll be much better equipped to map out your brewery’s production focus and ensure that quality products are going to the locations that want them most. Now that they've gone though, the key is to get them back in a timely manner.

3. Manage Your Keg Turnaround Time

It's been established that draught distribution data will provide you with the toolkit necessary to track keg locations and contents, but how exactly can that be used to ensure draft quality? The answer is two-fold.

Draught distribution data will give you the ability to proactively manage keg deliveries and pickups, ensuring that you keep your unit turnaround time under tight control. Kegs are expensive, and your brewery will have one of two purchasing options. First is the option of buying more kegs than are actually needed to ensure that extra units are available for constant rotation. The second option is to purchase a keg fleet more in line with what you’ll actually require, and then ensure that the limited float you do have returns in a timely manner. By selecting the latter, not only will you be able to run a leaner operation that requires less overhead, but you’ll also be inadvertently ensuring draught quality by preventing kegs from overstaying their visit at licensee locations.

By getting kegs back to the brewery within a target time period – whether it be two-weeks, one-month, or more, you’ll be guaranteeing that the product inside doesn't get tapped past it's prime. In addition to ensuring that your product doesn't get served stale, draught distro data will also give you the ability to effectively recall kegs filled with unfit product. This, and other quality control measures, can be taken thanks to detailed batch and lot tracking information.

4. Keep Detailed Batch and Lot Tracking

The final piece of the draught-quality puzzle is detailed batch and lot tracking. With the help of draught distribution data tools, you’ll have the ability to monitor both keg contents and the production runs from which they originated.

These insights are important because they will prevent poor-quality beer from ever reaching the glass of a customer. If production issues occur – and occur they will – you’ll be able to dial in the batch from which the issue originated and track down each keg containing beer from said batch. You can then pull those kegs prior to consumption, confident that only the highest quality product ever gets sipped.

Traditionally, most breweries will rely on hand-written or spreadsheet-based batch tracking documentation, and although usable at a small scale, these outdated systems can have a serious impact on draught quality over time. As you continue to produce, you’ll want to monitor the consistency of your production efforts and ensure the long term quality and stability of various recipes, approaches, and more.

Next Steps For Your Brewery

As the world begins to re-open following more than a year of slowed draught beer demand, your brewery should be well prepared for success. In a space where quality is everything, draught distribution data offers a powerful tool for consistently delivering high-quality craft product to customers.

From understanding keg locations and contents, to monitoring and managing turnaround times and batches, the quality improvement opportunities are endless.

If you’re looking to implement an intuitive, powerful keg tracking system, Kegshoe has what you need. With intuitive iOS and Android apps, powerful reporting, unlimited users, and barcode labels included, we make draught distribution data easy. Contact our team to learn more.