Following is a list of the most frequently asked questions about submitting new products to Virginia ABC. For complete information about policies and procedures for Virginia ABC vendors and brokers, please see the Supplier Manual (PDF) or contact Virginia ABC's Marketing Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has your product been certified by the Alcohol And Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau?
All products must first be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau (TTB) before they can be sold in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Does your product have all the necessary codes (UPC, SCC and CSC)?
A UPC or “Universal Product Code” is the 12-digit barcode found on almost all items in North America. UPCs are the unique configurations consisting of a block of black and white bars with an accompanying number that appear on each individual product in the American retailing system and allow for tracking and ringing up items in stores. UPCs help standardize the identities of millions of products across various manufacturing, distribution and retailing systems, ensuring that everyone in the marketplace is buying and selling exactly what they think they’re buying and selling. See an example UPC below:
An SCC or “Shipping Container Code” is the 14-digit barcode placed on the outside of a shipping carton or pallet. The SCC allows Virginia ABC to scan the shipment of multiple units of your product as it comes into the bailment warehouse. It tells the system how many units of product will be included in a standard shipping carton. This information will be entered in Virginia ABC’s inventory management system. When your SCC is scanned, the system recognizes that a shipment of X number of individual units of your product arrived from your company. An SCC can be obtained by contacting GS1 US at:
7887 Washington Village Drive
Dayton, OH 45459
Ph: (937) 435-3870
Fax: (937) 435-7317
See an example SCC below:
The “Control State Code” (CSC) is a unique six-digit number identifying alcoholic beverage BRANDS and SIZES sold in control states. Distilled spirits and fortified wines are assigned a six-digit code that will always begin with a zero, while six-digit codes for all other wines begin with varying numbers that are determined by type. In addition to the unique six-digit code, each product has a three-digit prefix to identify its class and a two-digit suffix to identify its size. The established structures will be used to code alcoholic beverage products. Any product listed in Virginia must be assigned a CSC number. For more information see the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association’s (NABCA) website.
See an example CSC below:
Do you have the capacity to provide product on the scale needed by Virginia ABC?
A supplier must be able to meet a minimum stocking quantity amounting to one case per store based on the number stores assigned and backup warehouse stock. If the product will not be available as needed, it is best to delay the listing presentation.
Do you have a distribution network developed to provide product to Virginia ABC on a timely basis?
If the product is successful in sales, then you will be expected to promptly replenish the product’s inventory in the Virginia ABC bailment warehouse in order to maintain the minimum inventory levels. If minimum inventory levels are not maintained and Virginia ABC retail store orders go unfulfilled, or the product displays a pattern of being out of stock, Virginia ABC has the option to delist the product.
Has a product promotional plan been developed?
How will you promote your product so customers are aware of it and purchase it from Virginia ABC? This is important because if after the initial 14 month grace period the product has not met the minimum sales threshold, it will be a candidate for delisting.
How does the product “fit” in Virginia ABC’s current product line?
Does Virginia ABC currently sell products similar to your product? If so, what makes your product different and why will customers decide to buy yours over another? Does your product fit a niche that is not currently filled by products sold through Virginia ABC? *Note: Virginia ABC retail stores are only authorized to sell distilled spirits, wine and cider produced from farm wineries, vermouth, mixers and rim garnishes.
How do I get my products listed with Virginia ABC?
Virginia ABC considers new products on a quarterly basis in March, June, September and December. To be considered, a new product must be presented to the Virginia ABC Listing Committee for evaluation. Listings decisions are based on criteria such as:
- Brand strength/recognition
- Category need
- Category trends
- Sales in other states
- Marketing support (in-store sampling, consumer promotion, price discounting support, on-premise promotion)
- Packaging and appearance
- Special order demand/customer requests
Additional consideration may be given to products that are made or distilled in the Commonwealth of Virginia or that have been awarded the distinction of “Virginia’s Finest” by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Listings Committee selects products for broad distribution (e.g., 100 stores), limited distribution, one time buy, special order catalog and/or inclusion in the online ordering catalog.
Virginia ABC continually adapts its evaluation criteria and profit margin requirements to meet changing business needs. For more detailed information on the requirements for presenting a product to the Listing Committee, see the Supplier Manual (PDF).
After all listing presentations have been held, the Listings Committee will make recommendations on whether to accept or reject a product based on the listing criteria detailed above. The committee’s recommendations are then submitted to the Virginia ABC Board for an official decision. Vendors who have submitted products for consideration will be notified in writing of the results of the Board’s decision.
What are the paperwork requirements?
The Product Specifications forms must be completed and submitted to Virginia ABC prior to the scheduled listing presentation.These forms must be entered into the Management of Inventory and Product Sales (MIPS) system. If you do not know how to access or enter information into the MIPS system, please consult the MIPS User Guide (PDF).
What do I need to know about the listing presentation?
Presentations are limited to 15 minutes in which the presenter should:
- Be prepared to address the listing criteria detailed above.
- Please contact email@example.com for a listings presentation template.
Please bring at least one sample of each product submitted for consideration to the listing presentation or send a sample to Virginia ABC's Marketing Division prior to your scheduled listing presentation.
Do I need to do anything after my product is listed?
In order to continue to have your product sold in Virginia ABC retail stores, the product must meet or exceed an established annual sales threshold.
A new product is given seven months from the date of listing to achieve one-half of the established annual sales threshold. If this is not achieved, then the product becomes a candidate for early delisting.
A new product is given 14 months to meet or exceed the established annual sales threshold. If a product does not meet the threshold after 14 months, then it is a candidate for delisting.
Virginia ABC uses by-category by-price tier thresholds for “total sales” and “sales per store selling” to evaluate product performance. If a product falls below both of these thresholds, it will be a candidate for delisting and will be reviewed accordingly.
Virginia ABC publishes updated thresholds on an annual basis. Please contact the Virginia ABC's Marketing Division at firstname.lastname@example.org for the current thresholds. Virginia products are expected to achieve at least 50% of the non-Virginia product threshold.
Delisted products will be discounted in Virginia ABC stores in order to eliminate any remaining retail inventory and any product stored in Virginia ABC's bailment warehouse will need to be retrieved by the supplier.
All products are evaluated against their respective sales thresholds on a quarterly basis to identify candidates for delisting.