Industry InnovationsImprove Your Stores’ Efficiency
Managers must change and evolve the operational components of their retail stores to stay competitive within their marketplace because consumer demands are no longer one dimensional—where shoppers show up at a brick and mortar store, make a purchase and leave. The purchasing cycle has become multifaceted and truly dependent upon the mood of each consumer, who is now more informed and impatient when he shops. Consumers expect regular product availability, a very quick purchase transaction, and generally, the cheapest price possible. How can liquor store owners stay in business with escalating labour and operational costs and ever-shrinking margins? Innovation seems to be key.
Keep reading to discover a few tips and tricks in tech—procedures and marketing platforms that liquor retailers are using to enhance customer experiences and create efficiencies with innovation that directly contribute to the bottom line.
One attention-grabbing, high-tech item emerging within the retail market is digital price tags.
Innovation and efficiencies simply cannot be discussed without considering technology. One attention-grabbing, high-tech item emerging within the retail market is digital price tags. Weekly price changes are a common occurrence since buying on LTO and bulk buying have taken off. Micro price management has started to occur where liquor retailers are making changes daily and even hourly depending upon competitors’ ongoing promotions. This constant price management has taken a toll on operational efficiencies as administrators and managers find themselves solely focused on pricing and margins at all hours of the day. Retailers are so busy monitoring their cost of goods that they forget about the increased labour expenses to monitor and maintain this information.
Enter the electronic price tag. Initially expensive to implement compared to its competitor—the “stick-on shelf label”—electronic price tags have been slightly slower to move forward in the liquor retail sector. However, this innovative product has created savings in labour costs for owners as well as enhanced customer experiences within the store. Retailers are quickly seeing a return on this investment. Systems can be integrated via radio frequency into the POS system for real time price changes. No more sticky labels, dealing with printer malfunctions or the dreaded human error of not updating prices. Prices are updated with speed, accuracy and ease and the team can get back to focusing on what matters—their customers.
An additional benefit of streamlined efficiencies is an enhanced shopping experience. Digital price systems can feature QSR codes for consumers to scan for real-time inventory levels, tasting notes, product recipes, and even ingredients for those who have allergies or ethically sourced concerns. These features end up increasing purchases or at least contributing to an alternate product selection.
In-Store Processes and Procedures
As a manager of a retail store, what takes most of your time? What do you procrastinate on? Is it the human resource aspect of the job, the required paperwork or something else, such as the social aspect of tastings or marketing initiatives? Take a few moments and really consider your day and what consumes the bulk of your time. Jot these tasks down every day for a week and you will see commonalities. Now consider what can be done to streamline just a few of those items. This is how you innovate to become efficient. More often than not, we find our time being sucked away due to the constant interruptions or an archaic way of working through current procedures, such as receiving an invoice or an interview process. Modernizing your procedures will contribute to your store’s success.
Take those owners who hate the idea of social media. It’s become an important component to any retailer to communicate trade events, but when a store has a limited budget to hire outside help or lacks a team member to take it on, it gets dropped. A quick solution is to sit down and come up with 20 posts, search out 20 pictures to accompany the posts, and schedule a series of bulk posts over a couple of months. It takes a few hours, but then a plan is created. This certainly is not reinventing the wheel, but for people who hate the idea of social media, this is a real innovative way to get a task done efficiently. This will create a best practice to follow only a few times a year that gives consumers the engagement and product awareness they are seeking.
Modernizing your procedures will contribute to your store’s success.
It’s kind of odd to be mentioning learning events in an article about innovation and efficiencies, right? Here’s why it’s not such a far-out idea: Consumer shopping has become an engaging, involved and even social process that retailers are taking advantage of. Larger footprint stores are still evolving, and every square inch of retail space is being maximized to incorporate learning rooms where pre-booked or even ticketed events are occurring. (Always refer to your AGLC Liquor Retail Store handbook to ensure tasting and event guidelines are followed.) Sommeliers and Cicerones alike are passionate about educating consumers. This passion drives consumer involvement and education, which in turn drives sales to the retail store.
Still can’t see the correlation between learning events and efficiencies, right? Well, a by-product of these in-house, consumer-focused events is a stirred curiosity among team members who start to participate in learning during their off time. Staff become engaged and passionate about products in their store. This translates to a fun and efficient way to educate your team, and they naturally engage and apply their knowledge during their shift. Customers who didn’t attend the event receive some of the benefit because your team will share their newly found knowledge with customers. This will contribute directly to your bottom line. Turnover expenses are lowered since staff are happy and engaged. Revenue will bump up due to an improved shopping experience, and the positive reputation of the store grows within the community.
Improving your store’s efficiencies is a continuous commitment. Talk to your team and work together to find efficiencies in procedures and services that will allow the retail store to keep pace with industry demands. By making it a fun and engaging team best practice, you will see a direct impact on your bottom line.