Monday, November 10, 2014

Rant: Wine Stores, Be Responsible

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for wine stores. There will be days when the line of customers at the cash register will wind throughout the store. Bottles will fly off the shelves and the staff will have to rush to replace them, maneuvering cases of wine around the customers in the aisles. Wines will sell that have been sitting untouched on the shelves for months. You'll sell more high-end bottles in two months than you did in the last ten months. It will be happy and profitable chaos,

And with great profit comes great responsibility.

Many of the customers who visit these wine shops will be seeking recommendations.Some of them rarely shop in wine stores, while others want to buy more expensive wines than they usually do. Some are seeking gifts for family and friends, while others want wines to bring to holiday gatherings and parties. Some even just want to splurge for themselves. And they are relying on the staff of the wine store to steer them in the different direction, to suggest wines which will please and satisfy.

It is a great responsibility to select such recommendations, and the ramifications of that decision can have significant consequences. If done well, it can lead to repeat business, and may even create new, regular customers. On the other hand, if you screw it up, you could cause customers never to return. In addition, those upset customers might complain to others, including on social media. And that could lead to even more negativity.

Sometimes a customer will have very specific wants as to the wine they desire to purchase, while others may only know how much they want to spend. It is the duty of the wine store staff to ascertain as much info as possible from each customer, to try to satisfy their desires. It is a balancing act though as you must ask enough questions to be able to make the proper recommendation but you also can't spend thirty minutes interrogating the customer. You must quickly ask the most relevant questions, following up if necessary.

Before you can provide a recommendation, you need to know the wines your store carries. You need to regularly peruse the shelves yourself, to see what is new, and what is now gone. As you scan the shelves, remember some of those wines, those you feel will make good recommendations, especially in some of the most popular categories.. For example, know some of the Champagnes and sparkling wines that you carry. It will save you time later when you deal with the customers.

When making recommendations, don't just try to sell whatever you have the most of, or just the bottles that you haven't been able to sell before. You want all of these holiday season customers to return to your store, so you need to make excellent recommendations, for wines that will satisfy them and make them want to return. You need to ensure your recommendations meet the criteria of your customers, that you select wines of quality, no matter what the price point. You want to build a relationship with your customers, and not pawn off inferior wines. Don't go for the quick sale but rather try to build a rapport so your customers return again and again.

Yes, you should be doing this year round, but now is the time when you have such a surge in customers seeking recommendations. Use this time wisely, by selecting quality wines for all of your customers. And that will hopefully lead to greater success throughout the year.

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