The Grapevine

Wine Shop Shelf Stocking: How Much Choice is Too Much

February 4th, 2014

There’s ample scientific evidence that too much choice is as bad or even worse than too little. What does that mean for independent wine shop owners? It means being thoughtful about how you stock your shelves. [level-members]

More than anything, consider the reality that you can’t be all things to all people. And unless your shop is on the large size, you’re not going to be able to stock everything an “average” wine consumer (whatever that might mean) could conceivably walk in and ask for.

So don’t try.

Instead, go deep. Pick your spots and overload your inventory there. You don’t need 15 “cheap and cheerful” pizza wines, unless you decide you can make it as the “cheap and cheerful” pizza wine destination. But you can be the place for great Italian wines. You can stock Italian wines that go with everything from fish to, yes, pizza. And you can stock wines that range in price from “heck, I might as well buy a whole case” to wines that most would view as wines only for a special occasion.

So don’t lament your limited shelf space. Make it a point to let your customers know that you love your job, and you view your job as editing and curating a great collection of wines for them.

Here’s another way to think about it: no one wants to read everything on the internet. They want someone to guide them to the good stuff on whatever topic interests them. It’s the same with wine.

Plus, marketing yourself as a generalist is just plain harder than carving out a niche.

One last thought: be sure that the items you do eliminate from your selection are items that aren’t profitable. Get rid of the items you need a year to sell through the smallest allotment you can get.  Or the items that don’t fit in anywhere else in the shop. The items, in short, that dilute the personality you’re trying to create for your shop.

photo credit: Jeff Kubina via photopin cc.