25 Nov AWRS: Four steps for retailers to demonstrate due diligence
Despite the false October start, the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) deadline is fast approaching. And as a diligent and responsible retailer, you’re going to want to know that your alcohol suppliers have signed up.
To help you prepare, I’ve pulled together a quick list of the four things that you need to do before 31st March 2016 to demonstrate due diligence for AWRS.
#1 Confirm a definitive list of alcohol suppliers
You’ve already got this, right?
Let’s just give this more than a moment’s thought.
I know you’ve got your spreadsheet. But in my experience, your colleague around the corner has theirs too. And it’s ever so slightly different. And herein lies the problem.
Most teams hold a spreadsheet of suppliers, exported from the system that they use most frequently. The problem is that these lists rarely match.
Set yourself up for success.
Drop an email to your key contacts across the silo walls – “Hey, how’s life in Quality? I don’t suppose you’d mind sending over your list of suppliers, I just want to cross-reference it against mine.”
Let those three or four emails get to work, and you’ll more than likely identify a few suppliers that may have slipped through the net and remained unregistered on AWRS.
#2 Confirm a single AWRS contact at each supplier
This is potentially a quick one to tick off your checklist. Do you already have a named contact within the supplier to whom this topic is relevant? If so, great! Jump to step three. If not, you’ll need to do a little bit more leg work.
Reach out to the primary contact at each supplier.
If you’re not normally in touch with these suppliers, you may need their buyer or category manager to reach out first and let them know to expect your email.
When you do email, keep your subject line clear and concise – try to convey what you’re after, why it’s important and when you need it completing by, to help the supplier prioritise getting back to you.
Make sure to leave at least two weeks for this exercise to be completed by the supplier.
It’s not uncommon for only 25% of recipients to respond to your first email. Don’t be disheartened though, it’s not personal. The individuals at the other end of the email work in retail too – they’re working just as hard to keep the plates spinning.
And unfortunately your email may be one which takes a little longer to get back to – that’s why it’s important to clearly explain why the supplier needs to respond.
If you use an email tool which gives you contact and organisation level reporting on who has received and opened your email, this step will be much easier as you can see immediately if your email has fallen into a black hole. For example, some contacts may have moved on from the supplier, leaving the email account unattended.
Finally, don’t be surprised if you, or the team administrator, has to hit the phones to cross the finish line.
#3 Set expectations with the AWRS supplier contacts
Now that we know we can get our messages and requests to the right person right away…
We can effectively communicate what we need the suppliers to do.
The specifics of what you’re after may differ due to your own internal governance, but I’d recommend the following:
- We need you to confirm that you have registered on the AWRS as we have an obligation to demonstrate due diligence in the sourcing of our products
- Therefore, please confirm to us by email that you have registered on the AWRS before the deadline of 31st March 2016
I recommend bringing your internal deadline forward to the end of February.
This still gives the suppliers plenty of time – but allows you a little bit of wiggle room to give any stragglers a helpful nudge if needed.
Managing dozens of supplier responses can be a bit of a drag.
So the use of an email system which can track who’s clicked on links within your email is invaluable. Simply adding a link within your email for suppliers to click and acknowledge completion will allow you to track directly against supplier records.
#4 Share the results internally
If you’ve got to step four, then you deserve a big pat on the back.
It’s an extremely rare occurrence in retail to be as organised and proactive as you’ve just been.
So let’s make the most of it.
Dump a line graph showing the timeline of suppliers confirming registration on to a company branded template slide, attach this to an email alongside your updated definitive list of suppliers and click ‘send’ to your boss.
You and your boss are now safe in the knowledge that if HMRC do come a knocking, you’ve got the information that you need to demonstrate due diligence.
Penalties for wholesalers trading without having submitted their application to HMRC will start from 1st April 2016. If you need help achieving this deadline, S4RB have a team of Supplier Engagement Consultants who spend each and every day helping retailers on these exact kinds of projects.
From 1 April 2017 if you buy alcohol to sell from a UK wholesaler, you’ll need to check that the wholesaler has been approved by HMRC and has an AWRS Unique Reference Number (URN) for the most up to date information on this topic we recommend you visit the Gov.uk website.
Contact us or give us a call on (0)115 727 0150 to find out how we can help take a load off your mind.