11 Wine Selling Insider Hacks from Wine Merchants Across the Country – SevenFifty Daily | Candle Made Easy

Seasoned retailers know that buying wine for their stores is the easy part. It’s the millions of other details—marketing efforts that keep the store in perspective, displays that keep inventory moving, and processes that keep the store running smoothly and customers happy—that combine to make a wine store that’s efficient and runs profitably.

As a retailer, I’m always looking for small, effective ways to streamline processes and increase sales with minimal effort, and I often look to my fellow wine merchants for helpful tips and tricks. With that in mind, I spoke to independent wine retailers across the country to get their insights into small changes that can have a big impact on business.

Embrace man’s best friend

Make sure you nurture your most loyal customers – those of the four-legged variety. “Dogs literally drag their owners in” says Lauren McPhate, director of sales at New York City Tribeca Wine Merchant, who recommends regularly stocking dog biscuits at the checkout. Finding a neighborhood shop on the must-visit dog route is an easy way to increase foot traffic. “I make friends with all dogs” explained William Ferguson, Wine Sales Advisor at Welcome to the quay in Washington, D.C., “It helps me befriend the customers.” Always ask the owner’s permission before handing out the first treat, and make sure the cookies are within reach of human customers so they can treat their dogs themselves on future visits can operate.

Change the way you make changes

While most POS systems calculate change automatically, giving it out is a fine art. “Pass the coins first so they don’t slip off the bills,” he suggests Marissa Ocasio, the director of education for Glastonbury, Connecticut Center Wine & Spirits. “And I fold the receipt in half when I give it to them. It’s quicker in the wallet.” Averse to the coin, Rob Bralow, the managing director of Blue Streak Wine & Spirits in Long Island City, New York, says: “AI always have a container for people to throw loose change in. Nobody actually wants a bag full of metal.”

Sippel
QR codes at Sipple lead customers to their “digital pub”. Photo courtesy of Sipple.

Grow mailing lists the low-tech way

While there are many ways to grow a store’s customer list online, don’t underestimate the power of a low-tech signup form. at Copake Wine Works, my store in New York’s Hudson Valley, there’s always one on a clipboard at the checkout to collect names and emails. Customers are often reluctant to add their information on a blank sheet, so we always fill in the top line to start a new page. We also make sure the tip of the pen resting on the clipboard stays clear – making it easy for you to ensure customers don’t run away with it.

Use high-tech ways to plan in-store tastings

Juggling sales reps and wine issues makes developing an in-store tasting calendar a major planning challenge. To streamline the process, Peter Plaehn, the wine manager at Surdyk’s Wine & Spirits used in Minneapolis, Minnesota Login genius. “I send the form to all of our reps and they can sign up for appointments,” he explains. The form also allows sales reps to indicate what wine they will be pouring, Plaehn explains. “It can then be shared among staff so everyone knows who’s pouring, when, and what’s being sampled.”

Put in packaging

While there is a certain amount of unavoidable packaging involved in transporting wine, Danny Frounfelkner, the founder of Sippela soft drink store in Houston, reuses every piece that wholesalers and manufacturers send to the store; Bubble wrap, wholesale shipping boxes, and four- and six-pack can holders are all reused as end-customer packaging. Stores that regularly ship wine can befriend local wine influencers or publications and offer to take their shipping boxes. While branded materials have their merit, Stevie Stacionis, the co-owner of Oakland’s laurel grape and Napa’s Bay Grape Napa, says: “We ask customers if they mind taking their wine in a used wine case instead of a bag (even if it’s only two to three bottles) just to save the planet.” And if the appeal to the If sustainability doesn’t work, a BYO bag discount usually helps.

Kilostrobert
Kilostrobert. Photo by Clay Williams.

Improve cardboard cutting techniques

It’s a well-known trick that the liners of wine boxes are great for separating bottles after they’ve been wrapped. But what’s the best technique for pulling them apart quickly and efficiently? “Separation of cardboard should Not done with scissors or a paper cutter,” he says Kilolo Strobert, the owner of Fermented Grapes in Brooklyn. “If you’re using a blade or box cutter, make sure you’re cutting the cardboard inserts on a surface that can be damaged. I personally like to cut cardboard inserts the straight edge of a counter.”

Be flexible with shelf sets

Breaking a few rules with shelf plans can help keep wine selections looking fresh — and keep customers on their toes. “Don’t get too obsessed with the bottom-shelf philosophy,” he says Sarah O’Kelley, the wine director at The exchange in Edmunds Oost in Charleston, South Carolina, seeRing the common practice of putting lower-priced items on lower shelves. “I often put eye-catchers or a wine that I know people will be looking for there to divert their attention from the coveted middle shelves.” Frounfelkner agrees that flexibility is key. “The constant movement of brands and products in their designated category areas always makes the shelves look full,” he says. “More importantly, it can create a revolving door of opportunity and representation by showcasing different brands and products on different shelf levels, sections and cladding.”

Vinya wine
Cheeky bottle labels at Vinya Wine. Photo courtesy of Vinya Wine.

Help Bottles sell themselves

Getting creative with bottle tags allows your bottles to speak for themselves as customers browse your shelves. Allegra Angelo, co-founder and sommelier at Vinya wine in Miami, a local print shop regularly prints batches of shelf talkers with clever, business-specific monikers such as Patio pounder or I like pizza. “IIt’s a fun way to make subtle suggestions and move products without being too promotional.” says Angelo. “You can get as simple or as quirky as you want.” Frounfelkner uses QR codes for this Help customers navigate their store’s selection. “The QR codes link to a hidden page on our website,” he explains. ‘We call it that’digital speakeasy.'”

Get creative with Bin Ends

Garbage cans and individual allocated bottles have the potential to take up more than their fair share of shelf space. “I can’t afford them taking up a whole space on my shelves, so I started treating them like Easter eggs,” says Bianca Sanon, the co-owner of Paradise Books & Bread in Miami. “I put different bottles behind others on the shelves. I’ll let people know there’s always extra bottles hidden somewhere, and it feels like they get more excited when they shop, like they’re part of a secret shopping game.” It’s also a way to replenish shelves when she scatters something looks, she adds.

Blue Streak Wine
Photo courtesy of Blue Streak Wine.

Be strategic with Chilled Selections

Turn the cooler into a store’s secret selling weapon with some strategic placement. “If you’re going to sell something in the summer, put it in the fridge,” recommends Bralow, who stocks his with high-margin items and lesser-known grapes for customers to sample. “Keeping them in the fridge means I can recommend them to the person on the go. And don’t succumb to the complaint that what the customer wants isn’t in the fridge – they’ll buy the branded rosé anyway, and they’ll buy what’s cold too.”

Harness the power of stickers

Cara Patricia and Simi Grewal, the co-founders of DECANTf in San Francisco, Recommend a marketing trick that will ensure a store stays in the mind no matter where its bottles end up. “We put stickers with our DECANTsf logo, website and address on the back of every bottle we sell.” says Patricia. “So if someone pulls a bottle out of their cellar months later or gives someone a bottle of wine as a gift, that little sticker is there to always let people know where it’s from.” Stickers also act as an incentive laurel grape. “We give customers fancy stickers if they use their own bag and don’t take one of our branded products,” says Stacionis.

Christy Frank is partner at Copake Wine Works, a store in the Hudson Valley of New York. She is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and holds the WSET Diploma in Wine.

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