Being in business is all about customer service and delivering the right experience to your customer each and every time they are in your premises.
For a liquor store, the 5 key things which can impact your customer experience are:
- Customer Service
- Product Range
- Store Layout
- Social Media
Let’s look at each of these areas individually and how to leverage in your liquor store business.
There’s nothing worse in my opinion than visiting a liquor store and seeing staff chatting amongst themselves or worse, updating their Facebook status, while a customer goes unacknowledged. Teach your staff to greet all customers as they walk through the door. Don’t pounce on them immediately, give them a few minutes to browse, then see if you can assist them find what they’re looking for. If you’re serving another customer, still acknowledge the shopper saying you’ll be with them in a minute.
Staff product knowledge is key to being able to make a good product recommendation to customers, but it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders – suppliers can run product training nights for your staff, or simply give your staff research tasks about several products and reward them for learning more about the products with product samples or event tickets. These don’t have to cost you anything as most venues are given freebies at some point.
Staff presentation is key – well dressed, hair done and good personal hygiene is mandatory.
Just as markets evolve so do products! Keeping an evolving product range will keep your customers interested. Staple / high turnover products will always form part of your product mix, but regularly check your slow moving or redundant stock items, and change them out for new products. Run a tasting and feature new products at the front of your store to get them noticed.
Look at specialising
Try different products to find your “niche” so you have products not many competitors can get. Try a product of variety whether this be Whiskey, Rum, Craft Beer or Local Beer. Consider stocking high end products and showcase the item in a glass cabinet. Customers may not buy first time, but they’ll remember you when looking for something special or unusual for a high end gift.
Run in store promotions regularly to keep interest and keep customers coming back. Even small dollar value promos can draw back regular customers to your venue and keep them away from the competition. Ask suppliers to help out with the prize, or do a deal with a local restaurant or a gift hamper. Ensure you have a promotional calendar to include mainstream selling opportunities like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas. Consider running 1-2 major promos a year and work in with your suppliers for something exclusive.
Don’t always run the same promo everyone else is running, see if you can hold it off and run it outside the national promo timeslot. Most national instore promos with have 12 months on their competition terms and conditions, so holding back can sometimes help your venue stand out. Ensure you have a winner’s board in store so customers can see who has won, it builds hype around your promos and adds credibility to the prize draws.
If national or state based promotions are pitched to you, ask the supplier for premium floor space funding, bonus stock or advertising funds. Most of these promos won’t have a big impact on foot traffic in your venue, so don’t be afraid to ask the supplier to pay for it.
Gift with Purchase is a great way to keep customers coming back, so any instant gifts provided by your suppliers are good value, run them all! Recycle GWP from old promotions during special times of year i.e. mothers or father’s day, it will help clear old stock and freshen the offers you have available during that time of year.
Try not to clutter the front of your venue with cheap beer or wine. This premium floor space should be reserved for your promotions or showcased products. Ensure you change up the displays every few weeks so there’s always something different for customers to see.
Don’t clutter your aisles with cartons of beer or wine. Make your displays interesting, and take one or two bottles out so it looks “shopped” you will sell more product if customers think people are buying. Ensure your shelves are full and shoppable, and make things easy to find (categorise). Labels and prices should be clear and easy to see, neat shelving and product facings. Don’t forget ceiling hangers and floor stickers are premium advertising space too but use these to promote your brand, your loyalty club or your special promotions – not the liquor brands!
Try not to have wine shelving too high – chest height works well as can give the appearance of a bigger venue and allow you to see customers. Ensure your fast moving products are located at the back of the store so customers will walk through to get these. Use the ends of your displays for impulse buys.
Social media is a powerful tool and free for your business. Your customers are on it, so should you be. Facebook Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are asy to use and showcase products promotions and instore promos or gift with purchase. Build a following for your store and it’s a quick and easy way of getting advertising messages out. Upload once a day, no more, and don’t advertise prices, make it fun and exciting and upload and share things your target audience might find funny or interesting as this will encourage sharing and grow your audience base. Run social media giveaways so the customer must come instore to collect i.e. guess the score comps for footy games.
About David Logozzo
David Logozzo has been in the industry for over 30 years, having run the highly successful Kemps Creek Liquor Mart for many years. David is a past board member of ILG, and now consults to the liquor store industry on how to maximise their business.