Welcome to SevenFifty Stories — where beverage industry professionals share how they’ve used SevenFifty to make their lives easier.
John Burns Paterson is the Wine Director for Frankies Spuntino Group in New York City which includes critically-acclaimed neighborhood restaurants Frankies 457, Frankies 570, and Prime Meats. John has also served as the Wine Director for Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar and as a sommelier at The NoMad restaurant.
John tells the story of how he has been able to save time and work with more distributors by replacing stacks of price books and pages of handwritten product notes with a completely digital sourcing and purchasing workflow in SevenFifty.
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The Problem: Too Much Paper in a Digital World
John recalls times when he’d do tastings with sales reps who would hand him a thick price book from which he’d make his selections. “I would literally take a ruler and a highlighter and highlight things that I thought looked of interest,” he says. “Also, when we’d taste wine, they wouldn’t bring out tasting sheets all the time. I’d have to make notes in a portfolio or in a little black notepad that I kept in my back pocket.”
He adds that for the most part the only way to search for a particular wine back then was on paper, and even then he had to know the specific name of the wine he was looking for. “I’m very organized, and I’m very organized digitally,” John says. “It was hard to keep files with me and keep reaching for a portfolio to find pricing for something. I literally had a desk with a filing cabinet where I would keep different vendors and their portfolios.”
Working with new distributors also proved to be difficult within this analog, paper-based system. “I didn’t have relationships with certain purveyors, so sometimes I’d want a certain product but didn’t necessarily know where to find it,” John says, pointing out that in many cases he could only work from the portfolios that existing reps had already given him. Figuring out what the hundreds of distributors in New York City carried was too time-consuming, and even when he was working with someone familiar, he still faced the issue of fragmented product listings and the lack of an efficient discovery tool.
The Solution: A Stack of Price Books Replaced by a Smartphone
Once John started using SevenFifty, he was able to lose the bulky portfolios and find anything he needed on his iPhone. “Having a bunch of papers and portfolios to sort through was a nightmare to me,” he says.
In a market like New York City, with over 100,000 products available from distributors, it’s impossible to know all your options. Now, everything exists on a single platform with a powerful search function that can filter by style, geography, grape varietal, price, container type, and more. “You realize how much more wine is out there when you can just search in a database versus thumbing through 16 different portfolios to find one thing,” John says.
Before SevenFifty, John would avoid working with new vendors because it was too time-consuming. Now, if he comes across a great bottle of wine at one of his restaurants, it’s easy for him to find out who carries the product and reach out to them. “SevenFifty has enabled me to find a vendor and learn more about a specific wine,” John says. “I’ll end up tasting with a rep and they’ll bring me a couple more things that I might want to work with.”
SevenFifty’s ordering feature has also improved John’s workflow. “The ability to type in what I need, put in how many cases, and write a quick message to my rep has made a huge difference,” he says. “I use that all the time. Now that I can do it on the phone and there’s WiFi on the subway, I literally never email a rep for an order. The ordering function has changed everything for me.”
The Outcome: Better Distributor Relationships and Easier Ordering
Highlighted portfolios and little black notepads are distant memories. These days, John is much more inclined to work with a distributor who uses SevenFifty than one that doesn’t. “It’s easier to set up a credit application, review a distributor’s portfolio, and place an order. Before, I would simply rely on them to come to me,” he continues, explaining that the improved communication, search, and order capabilities now enable him to work with between 30 and 40 vendors across his three locations.
“Not having a searchable database really limited the scope of work I was able to do efficiently,” he says. “Now I can reach out to people when I want to—and not have to do it out of necessity. I honestly wish that everyone would use SevenFifty.”
SevenFifty is an online marketplace and communications platform that helps importers, producers, distributors, and retail buyers connect with each other and do business in a modern world.