The Business of Bottleshops

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The Business of Bottleshops

Have a look at your local liquor retailer and question if they are satisfying their customers’ needs. Ask yourself what makes you go to certain retailers and not others, what would make you browse longer and how they could entice you to purchase more.

Inside any liquor store, your average customer want room to move, suitable range, sharp specials, friendly service, clean floors, prices on all products and orderly displays. For larger retailers which are destination venues, add plenty of parking, an accessible entrance and even trolleys, while at smaller retailers and drive throughs, the convenience factor makes a smaller range acceptable.

Let me ignite the wrath of independent retailers now by pointing out that the chains are experts at filling their role in the sales chain. What their shops lack in personality they make up by ticking every other box their customers are demanding. Liquorlands and Woolies Liquor offer just enough range, a few big brand specials and a simple layout – perfect for quickly grabbing a six pack of beer for the boys and a cold white  for the girls. Dan’s and 1st Choice are everything a destination retailer should be, the Bunnings or Harvey Norman of the liquor world – somewhere you can get happily lost for hours.

They manage to tick all the right boxes by identifying their customer’s needs and filling them in a consistent and pleasant fashion. This is a lesson many independent retailers need to learn in order to grow, rather than spend so much time focusing on what the chains are offering and complaining to suppliers about not getting bigger discounts. Pick a style of venue and get a reputation of doing that well, whether it be convenience, boutique focus, exceptional range or exceptional discounts.

More often than not, the local drive through won’t need a big wine range, super dooper boutique wines on special or a wine club – no matter what all the sales focused wine reps will be telling the manager. Rather, a concise range that caters for the customer demographic is sufficient – and that is often taken care of by the core range of whichever banner group with which they are affiliated. These bottleshops make a great gross profit on single bottles of beer and RTDs, yet often dedicate 75% of their floorspace to dust covered wine.

The fine wine retailer often dilutes his brand by trying to match the chains with big brand discounting and increase traffic by installing a wall of RTD fridges. Fine wine buyers can be tempted to buy expensive imported beers but are turned off by RTDs. Conversely, RTD drinkers are not going to splash out on a $30 hand picked 7th generation winemaker crafted red wine to go with their 10 pack of bourbon and coke.

For us suppliers we must identify which of our customers has the current ability or the potential ability to grow and give them more focus and support than those poor retailers that are operating their businesses into the ground. Reps have the unique experience of visiting dozens of retailers each week and so can observe what retail strategies work, where they work and why they work; smart retailers listen to smart reps, so find a smart retailer and help him grow his business, which in turn will grow yours.


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