After last week’s challenge, the most common request was how to improve sales for wine and liquor stores, given legal issues restricting delivery. Barring changes in legislation, this seems like a huge challenge – but only on its surface. Plenty of research supports consumers using multiple channels for shopping, so wine and spirits merchants can use this to their advantage. And, if you’re not in the wine and spirits business, read on anyway. Most of these tips apply to cross-channel shoppers regardless of industry.
- Educate – Many consumers don’t know as much about wine as they’d like, and yet few wine or spirits sites offer much in the way of education. Wine.com offers a "Learn About Wine" section; unfortunately, it then jumps immediately into more complex descriptions. WineLibrary.com offers its Wine Library TV section, which is an excellent approach, but still a little intimidating. A guide to types of wines that pair with recipes or suit events – in consumer terms, not wine aficionado’s – would help dramatically.
Spirit shops could do the same. Many consumers need help understanding small-batch single malts, distinctive vodkas and choice micro-brews simply due to the colorful and historic terms associated with the product. However, jargon – no matter how colorful – confuses consumers.
- Price – Here’s an area where many online stores do a decent job, offering consumers the ability to select products within a given price range. But, one of the signature features of many wine stores is missing – or at least poorly referenced: case pricing. Wine stores generally offer a "case price" to consumers purchasing 12 bottles or more. Why not offer a case builder online, that allows the customer to select a dozen wines with a guaranteed 5% to 10% discount, then prepare the case for easy in-store pickup? I’m not aware that anyone offers this today. And if you do, why aren’t your customers aware?
- Channel connection – Wine and spirits are distinctive products that often engender brand loyalty: your typical Grey Goose or Montepulciano D’Abruzzo customer may experiment, but they usually come back to their favorites. Why not link that customer’s account to their preferred brands to offer details of available discounts and make that account information available online, over the phone and in the store, so the customer always receives that custom experience?
So, whether you’re a wine merchant, auto repair shop, electronics store, furniture showroom, or what-have-you, offline-to-online merchants should continually think about how effectively they educate their consumers, price across channels, and connect with their customers. Addressing these effectively can have a dramatic impact on your offline-to-online conversion.