In March the retailer announced the category would be leading the charge in a company-wide initiative that is creating seismic changes in ranging.
Stores are now grouped into clusters and ranged according to local demographics, levels of affluence and average shopper age in particular areas.
The next range change will take place in October and head of BWS Simon Cairns said this strategy will be refined while packaging is also a major focus.
He told OLN: “The most important thing for us is format. We have to think about whether we have the right formats for each cluster of stores, and we can then assess this right down to site-specific needs. We have probably looked too much in the past at what the multiple retailers are doing, but convenience is very different and we should be championing the benefits of convenience. It should be more about mission-led and convenience-led formats.
“Pack sizes are really important for us, so we could stick to 75cl glass wine bottles or we can explore different shapes and sizes of packaging. Mini bottles of Prosecco are doing really well for us if they are in chiller cabinets.
“It comes down to assessing formats and what might work for each cluster.
“At the moment we are looking at things that don’t currently exist in the market and we are looking at ways of displaying them in the right way. Convenience is about immediate needs. A lot of our shoppers don’t have a shopping list and they don’t need a trolley. They run in looking for us to solve a problem for them. We are working out how to improve the layout and range to help solve that problem.”
Regional and local ranges, particularly for beer, will be another element of this process. “We have a big trial in Yorkshire at the moment with a range of local products and we can get this right down to postcode level,” Cairns said. “There are 40-50 brewers now but they may only service 10 stores. It will roll out to more stores soon. Lancashire will go live this month and then we will roll it out further.”
Cairns believes the new ranges offer shoppers far greater choice. “In the past it was based around store size. You got a full range in a big store because you had eight bays of alcohol, but now we might look at that store and think we don’t need so many premium wines in this area.
“In the past we were sometimes cannibalising the range with too many similar products at the same price point. We might have had four Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, four from Chile and four from somewhere else, all competing at the same price point. That’s not offering choice.
“Now we have Sauvignon Blanc at different price points, and other wines we can put around it that the customer might also like.”