How Retailers Can Build a Thriving Local Presence to Future-proof Sales

In beer, wine and spirits sales, local matters.

But going from liquor store on the corner to *the* neighborhood spot for bottles requires more than just a nearby address.

It’s about embracing a store’s place in the independent channel. That high-value network of locally owned beer, wine and spirits stores across the country is really a specialized home for the drinking community.

Here, three tips to build a thriving local presence for your bev-alc business:

Focus on the community

Your connection to your shoppers shouldn’t be purely transactional or one-way. If it is, it’s time to reevaluate.

Think about your relationship with your customers: Do they lean on you for product recommendations and advice? Are you communicating with them when they aren’t in the store?

You can begin building a thriving local presence in your area with digital marketing. Find ways to reach out and encourage more regular communication. (Email newsletters are great for this.)

Try hosting happy hour tastings (in-person or virtual). Encourage people to sign up for emails to access the events. Then, you start to build an engaged community. You can offer exclusive weekly product deals or even subscription boxes and bottle clubs to increase sales with loyal shoppers.

Use expertise to attract loyal shoppers

As best you can, become an expert in the products that you offer. Get the taste and story behind each one. Build guiding material for your staff with taste and production notes.

This level of service keeps people in your local market coming back for more. If you recommend a Tequila that they love, that customer may return and ask for another recommendation in the future.

Tout this expertise through your marketing and communications. If you have credentials (trainings, certifications, etc.), share those, too. Instill confidence in your neighbors that your store is the place to find what they want — even when they don’t know what that is yet.

Collaborate with local brands and businesses

As important as it is to build strong relationships with local shoppers, independent retailers should also create strong bonds with the alcohol brands and businesses in the area.

Create a section in the store specifically for local products. Build tastings and other events around partnerships with those local brands: Have the head brewer, distiller or vintner come in to talk about and share their craft. Now, local drinkers who cherish those area brands associate your store with them, and will keep coming back.

Additionally, stay friendly with other businesses — bars, restaurants, retailers — in the area. If you’re a wine shop and a customer needs a whiskey, you’ll know exactly where to send them. If a restaurant wants to feature a particular wine, beer or spirit as a special, staying in touch means you could have that product in stock when customers come looking for it.

Thrive in your local market by embracing it: The people, brands and businesses that live around you will make your retail store stronger.

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