The way customers shop in your store is changing, creating tension points for liquor retailers. These days, consumers value convenience over loyalty, resulting in inconsistent foot traffic for your store. With the boom of easy, on-demand apps like Drizly and MiniBar, simple e-commerce websites, and unique tasting room and brewery experiences, customers want their shopping to feel like a personalized experience, not a task. In effort to build customer loyalty, retailers must create value opportunities based on what truly grows their business rather than gut instinct. It’s up to store owners to react and adjust to this change.
Instead, liquor retailers should compete by providing a valuable experience during the alcohol-buying journey. In-store engagements and experiences drive loyalty and create repeat customers.The first step is understanding consumer buying behavior and market trends.
Today’s alcohol consumer has evolved in a few key ways.
- They value occasion-based drinking, like at parties and holidays, over daily with-dinner drinks. This means buying alcohol on a less-frequent basis, but investing in higher-quality (and often higher-priced) options when they do buy.
- They are mobile and social focused. As such, retailers must seek ways to target customers on their mobile devices and continue the conversation even when they have left the store.
- They want expert guidance. Shoppers may have considered what category of alcohol they plan to buy, but aren’t committed to a particular brand or price point. This means fragmented baskets, but is also an opportunity to create loyalty through the expertise of the staff.
How can retailers compete in this modern shopping environment?
- Identify an uptick before it becomes a trend. Different holidays and different seasons call for different drinks: red wine for Friendsgiving, champagne for New Year’s, rosé for the summer, and so on. Other trends are less predictable, but can still be tracked and understood by store owners. Keep an eye on your sales data to see what is selling and when, and pay attention to outside happenings that may be affecting changes. Once you identify a trend, create attractive promotions to bring in first-time buyers and keep your regulars coming back.
- Curate promotions. Have you noticed that those who buy cases of a specific light beer are more likely to purchase additional craft beers, too? Take advantage of understanding what customers buy together in your store, and turn them into promotions that drive incremental sales. Whether a sale — like discounting cigars for whiskey buyers — or a display — pairing a light beer with a mix of new craft beer options — acknowledging your buyers’ habits will please returning customers, and can turn first-time visitors into regulars.
- Engage with customers on social media. Networks like Facebook and Instagram are the modern day word-of-mouth. Establish a social media presence to show followers what’s happening in your store. By sharing events like tastings, parties or readings, or new promotions on the social networks of your choosing, you can draw more views, shares and comments that ultimately bring people in store.
The bottom line? Sales volumes don’t tell you enough about your customers. Engage with your customers, understand what they buy and when, and apply their preferences to make your store a place that attracts them beyond the convenience of other options.