The Grapevine

Wine Shop Customer Experience – Merchandising

October 7th, 2014

For the past two Tuesdays, we’ve been talking about the importance of customer experience and how to really nail it. We’ve covered staff and training as well as the shop environment. This week, let’s talk about merchandising. [level-members]

Having a great physical shop is more than just the environment you create with decor, good maintenance, etc. It also includes how you present your merchandise. One of our favorite tips is the effective use of signage. Certainly, you should have signs to guide folks to the broad categories they might be looking for. Italy, California, Local Wines, and so on. These will differ based on your shop’s focus, but they should make it easy for visitors to find everything you carry.

Even more powerful can be signage that gets to wine characteristics. It can very helpful to carve out some space for, say, pizza-friendly wines or perhaps “Great Thanksgiving Wines” around that time of year.

One downside of these signs is that they can have a negative effect on your ability to engage with your customers. Typically more engagement in a small shop is good. To counteract that tendency, you need another layer of signage: staff picks or local reviews or whatever you want to call them. These wines give your take – or a staff member’s take – on a particular wine. People can get a sense of the wine, and of your sensibilities, from these signs. Essentially, the signs help your customers help themselves – with your guidance.

You should also consider what you keep within arm’s reach of the cash register. What can people engage with while they’re being rung up? This is probably not the place for the Screaming Eagle; it’s not likely to be an impulse buy. But less expensive bottles, and items like interesting corkscrews and other accessories are worth keeping at hand. They’re not likely to make or break you, but every little bit helps, and keeping your customer engaged and interested is tremendously valuable.

Don’t forget your windows, especially if you are in an urban or village setting with a lot of foot traffic. Draw them in with something interesting. Even better, make them smile with something fun. Selling isn’t always about pushing product. The long-term play is important, too.

One last note for today on how to lay out your shop’s floor plan. You may be tempted to load the front of the store with bargain-basement stuff and stock that you’re trying to get rid of. Unless it’s an absolute best seller, keep it in the back of the shop. Giving prime shop real estate to 2nd-tier goods sends the message that you care more about moving product than you do about the product itself. Of course, if your shop’s identity is discounting, that’s another story.

Wait, one more last note, one that should probably have been a part of last week’s piece on shop environment: create a documented process for opening and closing the shop every day. Make sure you presentation to the world is consistent, day in and day out.