Ideas: How wine retailers can generate more revenue the last six weeks of the year

Once we get to mid-November, it’s like running the last mile of the marathon. You’re exhausted, but the adrenaline carries you forward. The group around you, the runners in front of you, and the runners behind you make for energy that pushes you towards the finish line. Nobody gives up the marathon in the last mile.

The wine retail business can feel like this as we approach the last 10% of the year, where, for many, upwards of 20% of sales come from. Between sales reps and customers, there is an energy that doesn’t happen any other time.

Here’s a quick list of ideas, in no particular order, to generate more revenue and make for happier customers, which leads to more revenue.

Emphasize customer service. While labor problems continue and more and more customers are complaining about bad customer service, you can make an impact. Start with the Hello rule. Every customer is greeted and offered help. I can’t begin to tell you how often I never experience an offer for help in a wine shop today. Talk to your staff, make sure they know this is important, and step up. Read Danny Meyer’s book on hospitality for inspiration.

The single biggest opportunity for sales reps, retailers, and restaurants today is to adopt a professional mindset and present it to their customers. 

Put new variety in front of your customers. The “new arrivals” section (you have one, yes?) should be one of the first things a customer sees and should be ever-changing.

Pre-pack grab-and-go boxes with themes. Order some three-pack boxes, design a theme, make a sticker, and make it easy to grab and go. It’s a little work that goes a long way.

Don’t shy away from N/A. The fastest-growing category in the beverage world continues to be non-alcoholic wines and spirits. Embrace it rather than complain about it. Dry January is right around the corner.

Map out your email campaigns now, and do it carefully. Pour yourself some coffee, separate from distractions, take out a calendar, and STRATEGICALLY map out your emails to your customers for the last six weeks of the year. Spend time to do it right. This will save you from the frantic Thursday night of “oh my god … I think I need to get an email out!” feeling. And those last-second emails you send? More typos, more spammy feelings, and more ignored than others. Take the time to do it right.

Reach out to your high rollers. Even if your POS system doesn’t track them, you know who they are. Invite them to a private shopping day where you’ll pop special wines, and they get a discount. Ask about corporate gift-giving. Make sure they know that you know how important they are.

Give customers a reason to come back. Maybe a gift card for 10% of the spent total, good until 12/31? Maybe a new release in-store tasting on a Tuesday night? Maybe “Champagne Sunday,” where you pop the good stuff for tasting?

There are dozens of ideas beyond this. Don’t just do the same old thing. Times have changed, sales are flat for many, and it’s time to hustle.

Get to work!

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