News

US banks step up fight to end fee limits on debit cards 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 2:47:00 PM

Lobby group uses campaign to relax Dodd-Frank rules but retailers plan to hit back

 

Source: FT

by: Alistair Gray in New York and Barney Jopson in Washington

February 20, 2017

 

US banks are stepping up efforts to win one of Washington's fiercest lobbying battles with a push to end limits on debit card fees that they claim have failed to help consumers and handed retailers a $42bn windfall.

 

The American Bankers Association is hoping to capitalise on Donald Trump's vow to "do a number" on the Dodd-Frank act as it fights limits on swipe card charges included in post-crisis reforms.

 

The lobby group has launched an advertising campaign with placements in publications including The Washington Post and Politico that take aim at the so-called Durbin amendment.

 

This requires the fees that banks charge retailers on debit card transactions to be "reasonable and proportional". The restrictions do not apply to credit cards.

 

"Losing the revenues on the debit cards is a big deal for banks," said Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman of the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. "This is a very high priority for the industry. The regulatory burden consists not only of increased costs, but suppressed revenues."

 

But banks have a fight on their hands over Durbin, not least because it pits them against the also-powerful retail lobby.

 

Some banking lobbyists, who are hopeful that parts of Dodd-Frank could be relaxed, acknowledge privately that their chances of ending the restrictions on card fees are slim.

 

Retailers argue the reforms have led to more competition on fees and that savings have been passed on to consumers. They are also planning to hit back with their own ad campaign.

 

Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, said the competitive nature of the retail industry meant the lower transaction costs had led to cheaper prices in stores.

 

He pointed out that banks had tried several times to repeal Durbin without success. "They [banks] have an uphill battle to convince members of Congress that removing competition is a good idea and that they ought to be allowed to go back to hidden, monopolistic fees."

 

Banks have the backing of Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the House financial services committee. He is expected to include a move to row back Durbin when he introduces his financial choice act, which would undo large parts of Dodd-Frank.

 

However, the threat of a tumultuous lobbying war between banks and retailers will give pause to Republican leaders in the House and a move to repeal the Durbin amendment would face resistance in the Senate too.

 

Charles Gabriel, president of the policy analysis group Capital Alpha, said he doubted the move would secure enough political support. "This is forcing members to choose between two of the most powerful political constituencies in their districts [banks and retailers]. Why would they want to do that?"

 

But he added: "You've got this green light now, with Trump having won. You kind of have to try this. The [finance] industry has a chance to play offence."

 

James Ballentine, executive vice-president of congressional relations at the American Bankers Association, said: "We will make the necessary investments to make sure victory is achieved."

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NIELSEN CGA: For Millennials, 'Black Wednesday' is a Big Night for Beers, Bars & Bonding 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:46:00 PM

1 in 4 Millennials say they will visit the on-premise on Black Wednesday before spending Thanksgiving Day with Family

 

Source: Nielsen CGA

November 21st

 

According to the latest Nielsen CGA On Premise Consumer Survey (OPCS), a fifth of the legal drinking age population plans to visit a restaurant, bar or nightclub as part of the Thanksgiving occasion.   Millennials are the most likely to go out on Thanksgiving (27%), while only 12% of those over the age of 65 expect to be celebrating out-of-home.

 

The day before Thanksgiving, often known as 'Black Wednesday', is a major event for the on-premise as groups of friends return home from different parts of the country and want to catch up and celebrate.  In fact, 1 in 4 (24%) Millennials say they will visit the on-premise on the day before Thanksgiving.  What's more interesting is the type of outlets they plan to visit.  43% of on-premise visits made by Millennials this coming Wednesday will be to a Neighborhood/Local bar...great news for a part of the trade that has been challenged for years, losing traffic to the continued growth in casual dining restaurants.

 

According to Scott Elliott, SVP of Nielsen CGA, "Fewer than 1 in 4 legal drinking age Americans visit a neighborhood bar on a weekly basis, so Black Wednesday is a big opportunity for a part of the on-premise which has faced challenges and many closures over recent years.  In fact, America has lost 1 in 6 Neighborhood bars in the last decade, so making the most of every opportunity is clearly important."

 

Whilst not the biggest night for the trade, (New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve and Halloween all being bigger events) Black Wednesday biases heavily towards Millennials and local bars.  In fact, the proportion of visits to local bars (43%) is beaten only by Halloween where 56% of Millennials celebrating in the on-premise say they plan to visit a local bar.  New Year's Eve comes a very close third with 42% of 21-35 year olds planning a trip to a neighborhood bar at some point in the evening.

 

WHAT WILL THEY BE DRINKING?

 

So, what are people planning to drink when they go out on Black Wednesday?  43% will be drinking beer, followed by cocktails (33%), table wine (29%) and finally Spirits (14%).

 

Elliot continued, "with a third of those visiting their local bar this Wednesday drinking Cocktails, there is an opportunity to grow spend with the right serve. We at Nielsen CGA survey 30,000 on-premise visitors a year and we know that cocktail drinkers are willing to spend 11% more on what they perceive to be a premium Cocktail.  Add in the fact that consumers typically drink 2.4 cocktails per cocktail-drinking session and it is easy to see the revenue opportunity here for those bars set up to succeed."

 

One thing we know for sure is that the modern on-premise visitor drinks multiple categories (4 on average and 5.5 for Millennials) and bars need to be able to help customers navigate their categories of choice throughout the evening if they want to maximise sales.  Effective menus, promotions and (crucially) server recommendations are the best ways of doing this.

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Denver is first city in America to allow pot in bars and restaurants  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:45:00 PM

Source: Associated Press

November 15, 2016

 

Denver has approved a first-in-the-nation law allowing people to use marijuana in bars and restaurants.

 

Denver voters weighed in on Proposition 300 as eight other states legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes last week.

 

The city measure allows bars and restaurants to apply to allow marijuana use. Patrons could use pot inside as long as it isn't smoked, with the possibility of outside smoking areas.

 

Colorado law does not currently allow nor ban public marijuana use. The result is a hodgepodge of local ordinances related to marijuana clubs. Denver is the first city to allow bars and restaurants to permit marijuana use, though patrons must bring their own weed.

 

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Washington: Washington Lawmaker Proposes Lower DUI Threshold 

Friday, February 17, 2017 5:33:00 PM
Source: Spokane Public Radio By DOUG NADVORNICK February 8th A Washington House committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would lower the state's blood alcohol level threshold for drunken driving from .08 to .05. Shelly Baldwin from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission says officers around the state arrested 28,000 people for drunk driving last year. She said that figure is down from about 40,000 a few years ago. Snohomish County Democratic Rep. Jon Lovick, who was a Washington State Patrol trooper for three decades, is the bill's prime sponsor. He says, during his time as a trooper, he abolished special drunk driving emphasis patrols. "I pulled my crew together and I said, 'Lady and gentlemen, we will not have another drunk driving emphasis patrol.' And they looked at me as if I was, they thought I was crazy because they knew how aggressive I was in going after drunk drivers," Lovick said. "And I looked at all of them and I said, 'Every single minute of every single day that you are in your patrol cars we're going to be on emphasis patrol. We're going out to make a difference.'" One lawmaker wondered about the cost to the state if it lowers its blood alcohol rate. That drew this response from one of the bill's co-sponsors, Kennewick Republican Rep. Brad Klippert. He referred to his time serving as a police officer and to a tragic drunken driving case in his district. "A local deejay in the Tri-Cities area lost his entire family to a DUI driver, wife and all of his children," Klippert said. "I'm asking you, if that were you, would the first thought that came to your head be, 'how much is this costing the state?' Would that be the first concern you have or would it be the safety of the citizens of Washington state or your family." Seth Dawson from the Washington Association for Substance Abuse Prevention says he supports a lower blood alcohol limit, but urged the legislature to think about the mixed signals it's giving about drinking. He says many bills that allow people more opportunities to drink are approved every year.
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Illinois: Anheuser-Busch Illinois distributor sold (Updated) 

Monday, January 23, 2017 5:37:00 PM

Source: St. Louis Business Journal

Oct 26, 2016

 

An Illinois Anheuser-Busch distributor that has been in business for 69 years is being acquired by Hannibal, Missouri-based Golden Eagle Distributing.

 

Jacksonville, Illinois-based A. Gaudio & Sons was looking for a buyer willing to keep operations and employees in Jacksonsville, sales manager Mickey Marks told The Telegraph.

 

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close Nov. 18, were not disclosed.

 

"The decision to sell was a very painful and long, thought-out decision," Marks told the newspaper. "After 69 years of service to our community, the Gaudio family thought it was time to pass the keys to the warehouse to another family, and the Riesenbeck family is just a fantastic choice."

 

Michael Riesenbeck, president of Golden Eagle Distributing, said the company looked forward to continuing to serve the Jacksonville area.

 

"The Gaudios and Mickey Marks leave behind enormous shoes to fill," Riesenbeck said.

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Increased awareness about safe ride home programs needed: Poll 

Monday, January 23, 2017 5:34:00 PM

Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc.

Oct 24, 2016

 

Key points:

 

Across the U.S., 41% of respondents reported familiarity with safe ride home programs.

Analyses revealed that among those drivers who were familiar with safe ride home programs, less than 10% reported using them always or almost always.

Young adults reported using both safe ride home programs and public transportation options more frequently than older age groups.

Among U.S. drivers, 49% reported that they had access to public transportation in their area, and 28% said they did not; 18% of respondents reported that public transportation was only available in urban areas and not in residential areas.

Nationally, only 7% of drivers who had access to public transportation reported that they always or almost always used it when they consumed alcohol and only 11% reported using it sometimes.

Several regional differences were observed in relation to availability and use of safe ride home programs, which suggests that some areas may need to do more to ensure drivers are aware of alternatives.

Among the 8% of respondents who reported drinking and driving when they thought they were over the illegal limit, the majority did so because they thought they were okay to drive (44%), or thought that they could drive carefully (12%).

 

A new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) poll conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc. (TIRF USA) and sponsored by Anheuser-Busch revealed low awareness of safe ride home programs among U.S. drivers. It also showed that a large proportion of drivers do not use safe ride home programs, even when they are available and U.S. drivers were aware of them. A concerning proportion of persons who reported driving while impaired did so because they believed they were okay to drive.

 

The public opinion poll conducted in October and November 2015 investigated U.S. driver opinions and behaviors in relation to impaired driving. Results were analyzed in accordance with the 10 regions of the country identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to gain insight into variations across the country. The online poll was based on a sample of 5,009 drivers, aged 21 years or older and conducted in partnership with TIRF in Canada.

 

"According to NHTSA, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater) accounted for 30 percent of total motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2014, corresponding to 9,943 lives lost." explains Tara Casanova Powell, Director of Research at TIRF USA. "Fatality data from 2015 showed that 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, which is a 3.2 percent increase from 2014. Raising awareness about the availability of alternative transportation options to help drivers get home safely can help encourage greater use of these services.

 

In addition, the survey showed that safe ride home programs and public transportation were not consistently available across the U.S., and a proportion of drivers seeking these options were not aware of whether these programs were available in their area. These results indicate that awareness of these programs may be low, and more work is needed to increase driver awareness of these options when they are available. Regional differences were also observed in relation to availability and use, which suggests that more intensive efforts may be beneficial to ensure drivers know that services are available.

 

Of concern, in places where safe ride home programs and other alternatives were available, these options were not often used. Continued research is needed to better understand the reasons why some drivers specifically choose not to use alternative options when available, and what features may help to encourage increased use.

 

"Ride-sharing can be a useful tool to reduce impaired driving," says Dr. Ward Vanlaar, Chief Operating Officer at TIRF in Canada, "Additional research to explore effective strategies to deliver these programs, and promote their availability to drivers at critical moments can help ensure they are more frequently used and reduce crashes."

 

Survey results showed that most U.S. drivers were concerned about the consequences of impaired driving. Concern about injuring themselves or someone else was most often reported by drivers, particularly those who reported driving when they thought they were over the limit. As such, it may be useful to focus educational efforts to underscore the risks and consequences for drivers themselves as well as other road users.

 

Additionally, young adult drivers and respondents who had multiple tickets were found to be more concerned about the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving. Tailored awareness campaigns for these audiences that communicate the risks and alternatives to driving can be beneficial.

 

"It is clear that most U.S. drivers understand the overall concerns of driving while alcohol-impaired as evidenced by the 92 percent who reported not driving drunk. However, the majority of those who chose to drive while impaired made this decision because they thought they were capable of driving," says Casanova Powell. "This study revealed a common misperception among at least some drivers who believe they are capable of driving when alcohol-impaired."

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Clash Over Wine Merchant Shipping Laws Expands to Missouri and Michigan 

Monday, January 23, 2017 5:23:00 PM

In a Missouri courthouse and the Michigan statehouse, retailers are battling for the right to ship wine to customers across state lines

Ben O'Donnell
Posted: October 19, 2016

Lawyers who filed a suit last month in an Illinois federal court challenging a ban on wine sales by out-of-state retailers have launched another salvo, this time in Missouri. And in Michigan, legislators are considering a bill that would allow in-state shipping by retailers but explicitly ban sales by out-of-state stores. Supporters of allowing wine consumers to have access to more wines by legalizing retailer sales across state lines hope the fights will eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Show-Me Suit

Missouri bans most retailer-to-consumer direct shipping, but it does allow "reciprocal" shipping—merchants in states that permit Missouri stores to sell to their residents can sell to Missourians. Florida does not allow out-of-state sales, and in the latest lawsuit, Sarasota Wine Market, LLC et al v. Nixon et al, filed Sept. 23, the owner of a Sarasota store called Magnum Wine and Tastings is challenging the restriction.

“Magnum Wine and Tastings has customers from all over the country, including many from Missouri, who visit while on vacation or have retired to Sarasota,” the complaint states. “Magnum Wine and Tastings obtains and sells many wines that cannot be obtained in retail stores in Missouri, including older vintage wines, limited-production allocated wines, private-label wines, and wines that have sold out in Missouri."

The suit also notes that Magnum, owned by Heath Cordes, has favorable access to wines auctioned at estate sales because of Florida's high population of retirees. The biggest beneficiaries to a new law, said plaintiff lawyer Robert Epstein, who is involved in both the Missouri and Illinois cases, would be Missouri residents "who are not situated right around Kansas City and St. Louis, where there are some decent wine shops."

St. Louis resident Michael Schlueter, a wine consumer, is also a plaintiff in the case. The defendants are Missouri's governor, attorney general and supervisor of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

Like the Illinois complaint, the filing in Sarasota makes a two-pronged attack against the constitutionality of Missouri's shipping code: that it violates the dormant Commerce Clause by treating interstate sales, shipment and delivery of wine by retailers less favorably than intra-state sales, and that it violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause by denying Cordes the privilege to engage in his occupation in the state upon the same terms as Missouri citizens.

While the Sarasota suit has no court date yet, the case in Illinois may soon move to a pretrial hearing; Epstein and co-counsel James Alexander Tanford formally requested it be scheduled after Nov. 13.

Michigan Considers Changing the Rules

Epstein and Tanford were also lawyers in a Michigan case that became part of the landmark Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision that struck down discriminatory bans on direct shipping by wineries. And in 2008's Siesta Village Market, LLC et al v. Granholm et al, the pair successfully argued to a federal district court in Michigan that Granholm should apply to retailers as well.

The Michigan legislature responded by passing a law that any retailer could deliver in the state … so long as they used their own vehicles. "So if you're a Chicago retailer, if you want to get [a Michigan customer] wine, you have to use your own vehicle to deliver it," explained Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR). "Of course, that's not ever going to happen, right?"

On Sept. 20, state Sen. Peter MacGregor introduced Senate Bill 1088. According to an analysis by the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, the bill would amend the Michigan Liquor Control Code to allow a retailer with a specially designated merchant (SDM) license to use a common carrier, such as FedEx or UPS, to sell and deliver wine to a consumer in the state. But the bill deletes references to out-of-state retailers with similar licenses.

Epstein and Tanford recently submitted a letter to the Michigan senate, writing that they "have successfully sued Michigan twice over its discriminatory wine shipping laws that gave favorable treatment to in-state businesses …. Will we really have to sue the state a third time?"

“This is all to protect wholesalers," Wark told Wine Spectator. NAWR has also submitted a letter to the Michigan legislature opposing the bill. “We believe it's because they can't do anything more than deliver boxes in today's market, which has become expansive,” said Wark. “And they don't want to have to compete. They certainly know they can't provide Michigan consumers with access to the hundreds of thousands of wines available in the U.S. that many Michigan consumers desire but are not brought into the state by wholesalers."

The state's wholesalers support the bill. “Senate Bill 1088 will open up more options for consumers, allowing them to purchase the wines they love and have them shipped to their homes from retailers in Michigan," said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. "The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association opposes out-of-state retailers shipping wine into Michigan because the practice is inconsistent with the three-tier system and isn't subject to adequate regulation to ensure there is compliance with state laws."

The bill was approved by the senate's Committee on Regulatory Reform yesterday. A vote by the full senate is expected this week. “All the people that I've talked to told me that it was going to pass through the senate," said Wark. "But then it has to go through the house, and that's where we're going to fight it."

"If the bill is passed and becomes law, it's very, very likely to be challenged, and we would welcome such a challenge," said Wark. “If a third lawsuit was filed it would make it even more likely it would get to the Supreme Court."

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The grocery-restaurant price gap is worse than you think 

Monday, January 23, 2017 5:19:00 PM

Source: NRN

by Jonathan Maze in On the Margin

Oct 19, 2016

 

The restaurant-grocery inflation gap, widened again in September as my colleague Jon Springer wrote Tuesday. Over the past year, restaurant prices have increased 2.4 percent, according to federal data. Grocery prices have fallen 2.2 percent.

 

That's a 460-basis-point spread, and a big difference in the change in pricing by the two biggest industries that specialize in the sale of food to consumers. It's not difficult to imagine why consumers might be dining at home more often this year.

 

Yet even that understates the problem. Look at more detailed Consumer Price Index, or CPI, data, and the issue for restaurants is even clearer.

 

Specifically, meat prices have dropped a whopping 6.3 percent over the past year. Instead of a 460-basis-point gap, you have an 850-basis-point canyon.

 

That's a noticeable difference: A package of steaks that once cost $30 at the grocery store now costs $28.11. Consumers notice that difference, especially if they perceive the cost at their local restaurant to be more expensive.

 

Meat is a major commodity at a lot of restaurant chains. But it is also a central entrée for a lot of at-home meals, too. If the price of a person's choice of entrée is a lot cheaper now than it was a year ago, then it could dictate whether that person eats at home or goes out.

 

Consumers aren't going to eat out less because peanut butter is cheaper, or because bananas aren't as expensive. But they would choose to eat at home because they bought a package of steaks for a lower price.

 

Many issues could be influencing the decline in same-store sales. Restaurants have been too aggressive at building units, thus spreading too much traffic around. Independents are finally gaining traction. And consumers are staying home because of the election.

 

But more than anything else, price remains the biggest single reason for consumers to shift their spending, despite lower unemployment, rising wages and lower gas prices. One hardly needs to be in budget-cutting mode to look at saving a few bucks, and the unusual pricing gap is likely changing behavior enough to broadly move the sales needle.

 

This can't last forever, of course. Yet in the meantime, the sales slowdown brought in part by that pricing gap has cost numerous CEOs their jobs, and led to the bankruptcy of several restaurant chains this year.

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New Ordering System Streamlines Retail Purchases 

Monday, January 23, 2017 5:16:00 PM

SevenFifty Debuts in 30 States to Facilitate Retail Wine Orders

 

Source: WineBusiness.com

by Liza B. Zimmerman

October 10, 2016

 

Operators have long complained about the complex process of ordering wine. From dealing with multiple distributors and portfolios to difficult order interfaces the entire process has continued to be labor intensive.

 

The New York-based SevenFifty (750) launched several months ago and now currently works with 700 distributors representing roughly $20 billion in combined annual sales, according to a recent press release. "We're currently working with roughly 60 percent of all wine and spirit distributors. This includes many of the biggest in the country, as well as boutique distributors with small, curated portfolios," confirmed Aaron Sherman, CEO and co-founder of SevenFifty.

 

The ordering system has roughly 30,000 buyers in all major metropolitan areas, averaging more than one million total searches per month. Retailers can access the platform for free and need only show a liquor license verification to register. Distributors cover the cost of the system by paying a monthly rate to publish online portfolios, advertise tasting events and keep track of products brought to specific accounts, according to a company press release.

 

Sherman also said that ordering wine "has been a confusing and overwhelming process for years.... [as] currently, buyers are forced to send their orders through different emails, text messages, and phone calls - we wanted to create a better solution." He said the SevenFifty system seeks to simplify the "fragmented manner in which orders are currently communicated to sales reps by consolidating the process onto a single platform."

 

Retail Feedback

 

A handful of operators who I spoke to also confirmed that the platform makes ordering wine less complex. Using the system, said Meg McNeill, general manager and buyer for the Brooklyn-based Dandelion Wine, "is easier, more streamlined, and allows less room for error." She has used it since it launched to order from multiple distributors. "We work with over 85 distributors and we only have about 600 SKUs, so 750 helps streamline things immensely," she concluded.

 

"Going through everyone's price book would take so much time and when you're looking for a type of wine just going through books wouldn't show everything on the market," added Patrick Larson, the manager and buyer for Vinyl Wines on the Upper East Side of New York.

 

"It makes my job a lot easier in so many ways. One of the first I can remember is a bride coming to me asking for half bottles of Long Island white or Sparkling wine. I have no idea how I would track down such a special request without 750- perhaps calling every vineyard on the North Fork?" McNeill shared.

 

She added that the SevenFifty system is convenient for orders of all kinds, for instance if she knows that she wants "a Chablis on the shelf for less than $30, I can search for that, narrow it down to the distributors I already work with and generate a list to keep track. Or, at large portfolio tastings, rather than carry around a giant catalogue, I can make a list using 750 on my phone to then check later when I'm back at the store and then place an order with my rep right from the same platform."

 

She added that most of her key distributors are in the system and "My reps are as busy as I am, and using seven fifty means I don't have to text or email or call them every time I have a price question. I can look up the pricing structure of each of the wines I need to order and then send the list directly through the website to my rep. I've heard from my salespeople that it works great for them too because they don't have to look up every product code to place my orders, SevenFifty just sends them with the order."

 

CEO Sherman noted that SevenFifty provides comprehensive online listings of distributor portfolios and an ordering tool that allows for fast and easy re-ordering of existing products in inventory." What is more, the process is streamlined, he said, "by enabling the buyer to create orders and instructions that can be sent to their reps in a few clicks."

 

An Analyst's Perspective

 

Two of my most trusted wine business analysts see the benefits of using SevenFifty from both a retail, and a wholesale, perspective. Barbara Insel, president and CEO of the St. Helena-based Stonebridge Research said that she has been have been fascinated by Seven-Fifty for some time. "It was started by restaurant people in New York who understand what was needed to make their lives easier and the restaurant people I know seem to like it."

 

Basically using SevenFifty replaces the various ordering systems that each wholesaler has so "there is one standardized, uniform ordering site for each wholesaler who uses it. And in theory, all the relevant product information besides pricing can also be accessed through SevenFifty, replacing various brochures, sales order books, price posting volumes, etc," added Christian Miller, proprietor of the Berkeley-based Full Glass Research.

 

"For the retailer, this should make the basic act of ordering wine more efficient [fewer wholesale websites to access or distributors to call] and easier because the format is uniform. In theory, it would also make comparison shopping much easier for retailers, provided the search engine is comprehensive and easier to use. If a restaurateur is thinking that he or she needs a wine priced at a specific price, A site like SevenFifty can generate a list of candidates for easy comparison by price, type, source, etc."

 

"For wholesalers, it seems like a two-edged sword. On one hand, it may put downward pressure on prices by making price comparisons within categories [and between wholesalers] easier. And if retailers start to use it more, it could diminish the influence that larger sales forces have by virtue of more frequent calls on more retailers," he continued.

 

"If seven fifty actually replaces ordering directly from wholesalers for a majority of volume or retailers, there could be some cost savings for wholesalers in terms of managing their ordering websites and customer service centers," concluded Miller.

 

Tailoring the System

 

The online ordering platform is also an order management system where buyers can select products to re-order and allows users to apply filters and search functions---such as vendor, appellation, country, raw material, vintage--to create customer distribution orders, said Sherman. He added that the site is constantly updated to keep pace with brand moves and pricing.

 

As more facets of the wine business shift to computers there is a risk of reducing some of the essential human contact and tasting experiences that are important to building a great wine selection. However the retailers to whom I spoke said that use of 750 doesn't actually cut down on human interaction in the buying process.

 

"We taste all the time. In fact, it sometimes means that our tastings are more focused because I can research wines from individual portfolios ahead of appointments and request particular wines that we need. It means my reps don't have to be psychic all the time and guess randomly what might fit when there are particular holes to fill here," said McNeil.

 

System use "doesn't effect physical human interaction. Most ordering is done through emails and phone calls. By seeing a variety of wholesalers listed you find people you wouldn't necessarily have worked with and instead of being cold called you can do your research before reaching out," added Larson.

 

"I love being able to leverage technology to make my life and my job easier. A web interface that's cleanly designed, easy to navigate and chock-full of information at my fingertips at all hours of the day [or night] was welcome," said Jared C. Sadoian, bar manager at The Hawthorne restaurant in Boston.

 

He added that, "I never really understood my industry peers who call in orders during the day, leave voicemail orders, or worse, send a paragraph-length text message to their sales representative with their ordering needs. It's nearly impossible to track, easy for mistakes to be made, and puts you in a disadvantage if you have a lot to do during the day."

 

He added that one of his favorite 750 features is lists. "I can create and update a list of exactly the products I normally buy for, say, my current wine by the glass program," he shared. "Keeping track of past orders as well is a useful feature that helps me track what I've purchased and understand my own ordering patterns. Having products all under one, searchable system makes it easy to build an order ....and consolidates the ordering information."

 

It looks as though greater use of this type of ordering technology may continue to speed up and simplify the wine business for both retailers and distributors.

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Get ready: New I-9 form is set for January 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:52:00 PM

Get ready: New I-9 form is set for January

Restaurant and other employers will soon be required to use a revised version of the government’s I-9 form when hiring new employees.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, published its new version of the form Nov. 14. Beginning Jan. 22, 2017, all U.S. employers must start using it. Employers can use the current version, dated March 8, 2013, until Jan. 21. After that, they must use the form dated Nov. 14, 2016.

I-9 forms are used to verify an employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States.

The USCIS said the revised three-page form will be easier to complete on a computer. It also is designed to reduce confusion and will help employers avoid technical errors that could result in hefty fines. The changes include:

  • Prompts to ensure information is entered correctly. It will notify the user of any missing fields, dates inputted incorrectly and social security numbers that are missing a digit.

  • Improved naming convention. Employees now only need to provide “other last names used” rather than “all other names” used. This is expected to avoid possible discrimination issues and protect privacy of transgender and other individuals who have changed their first names.

  • A dedicated area for additional information. Employers currently provide this in the margins of the form.

    Other enhancements include:

  • Drop-down lists and calendars.

  • Embedded instructions that pop up when the cursor hovers over each field.

  • Instructions separate from the form. Employers are still required to present the instructions to employees completing the form.

  • Buttons that allow users to access instructions electronically, print the form, and clear the form to start over.

  • A QR code that’s generated once the form gets printed. This can streamline and facilitate auditor reviews.

    The USCIS said employers must remember that the revised I-9 form must still be printed out so employees and/or their preparers can sign them. They can be stored on- or off-site in a single format or combination of formats, such as paper, microfilm or microfiche, or electronically.

    Go to the USCIS website to learn more about the changes to the I-9 form.

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