The Grapevine

How to Stock Your Wine Shop Shelves

July 21st, 2015

No, we’re talking about how to physically place bottles on your store shelves; we’re not even talking about how to organize your shop’s wares to maximize its appeal. (That’s merchandising – we’ve covered it before, we’ll cover it again.) Today, we’re talking about how to select what wines make the cut. [level-members]

If you’re like most shop owners, you are constantly besieged with distributor reps clamoring for you to try a new wine, buy a new wine, sell a new wine. The first two parts are easy – it’s the selling a new wine that gets tricky.

It helps if you have a plan in place for making your buying decisions. Relying on your whims or your mood on whatever day the rep shows up is a recipe for disaster. Here are a few thoughts on possible guiding principles.

Keep it Manageable
You don’t have to stock everything under the sun. Unless you’re running a supermarket-sized retail operation, that’s not even an option. Prune ruthlessly until you have only the best representatives of every type of wine that makes sense at every price point that makes sense.

Keep it Interesting
Success is harder to achieve if you’re competing against a wide open field. If you’ve got the market all to yourself, well, you’ve got to try pretty hard to fail. Short of gangster-style elimination of the competition, your option for limiting competition is doing things others aren’t. So forget the mass-market brands and stock more interesting wines at the same price. They’re out there.

Keep it Relevant
What are people talking about? What are they reading? What is selling local restaurants? Knowing this information helps you stay in synch with the preferences of your audience. That’s going to be key to keeping it interesting – because it has to be interesting to your customers, not just to you.

So when the reps show up and want you to buy, buy, buy, the questions you should be asking yourself are:

  •  Can I sell it?
  • Does it fit the shop’s overall personality?
  • What makes it a better choice than similar wines? This can be price, value, distinctiveness, rarity. If you can’t identify how a wine will contribute to your shop overall, pass on it and find something that does.