Ever since cavemen started swapping things with each other, the rules of retail have remained unchanged. Eye level is buy level, retail is detail, the customer is always right, one bear skin costs 10 arrowheads. OK, maybe that last one died out with the cavemen.
Those clichés may still be true, but in today’s technological era there are new rules, and they apply as much to wine merchants as to anyone. Here are six new retail commandments – they may not all be relevant to every drinks retailer, but there should be at least one thing here that can benefit your operation.
1. E-receipt every time
The days of “your receipt’s in the bag” are long gone. Offering to email a receipt to your customer should be your default – it’s convenient, modern and, crucially, it allows you to contact them in the future. By sending a message of thanks, or suggesting a food match, or inviting them to join your mailing list, you can convert a one-off impulse buyer into a repeat customer.
2. Make it mobile
Mobile devices are estimated to account for as much as 50% of internet traffic these days. Being mobile friendly doesn’t mean providing in-store wifi (although that is beneficial too), but it does mean advertising your social media accounts to your customers and prompting them to share pictures – for example, by providing discounts as an incentive, or by setting up “Instagram here” locations. Everyone who walks into your shop should find something worth sharing.
3. Taste before you buy
Now that tasting technologies such as Enomatic and Coravin have become staples of the wine world, there’s no excuse for not allowing people to taste your wines. Allowing people a little sample of a bottle is one of the most persuasive tools a wine merchant can offer.
4. Counters out
This is straight out of the Apple Store playbook. An old-fashioned sales counter is increasingly irrelevant with modern EPOS systems and it is a barrier between you and the customer, whereas a table with a few chairs is a much more social set-up and should encourage greater interaction and informality .
5. Loyalty free
Ever since the Tesco Clubcard, retaining loyalty has become a retail must. Whether you offer a cafe-style reward card to encourage repeat visits, or a more sophisticated online membership with tailored offers, it is a simple but proven way to build faithful clientele.
6. A little luxury
Making your customer feel special needn’t be hard or expensive. By adding a little luxury to their transaction, you can leave a lasting impression. Again, take Apple as an example for its smart packaging, or cosmetics companies who give miniature samples with each purchase. Think about what kind of gesture you can offer - even something as simple as a hand-written note of thanks with each delivery can make a big difference.