Retail as we know it is changing. The beverage alcohol industry, among many others, is seeing disruptions, from smartphone apps that provide convenience for shoppers to data-gathering devices that help retailers sell smarter.
Online marketplaces like Amazon are changing things, too, in unprecedented ways. As Amazon expands into new categories—including grocery and its liquor subset—retailers should adapt with it, rather than fall behind.
Technology’s growth will continue to lean into customer convenience rather than brick-and-mortar profitability. But that doesn’t mean doom and gloom for retailers. Dive into these five emerging spaces to follow that will take your store into the future.
On-demand Delivery Services
Alcohol delivery apps are growing in popularity as shoppers continue to show that convenience is king. With simple, well-organized “shelves” of wines, beers and liquors all at a customers fingertips, how can a retailer compete?
Count these services as you would any other competitor. Use the apps to your advantage by following their pricing models or price adjustments, and align them with your local market. You should also think about how these apps are winning customers: what data do they have? How are they applying it? Can you gather the same data from your customers to more closely compete with the automation and personalization that technology offers?
While the likes of Siri have been around for years now, virtual assistant technology is only just beginning to truly flourish. Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s Siri, among others, are voice-activated companions that add ease to almost every task from a phone or speaker. Customers value the ease of asking Alexa to order something for them, find the best-rated Malbec on the internet, or help them decide what cocktails to make.
The proliferation of this tech matters, because these virtual assistants are becoming influential decision-makers. If a customer asks Siri about the best liquor store nearby, you want to make sure that your business is at the top of the search, as these people are searching to buy. It’s invaluable to have your Google Business, Yelp and other similar online pages set up to win that business.
In Amazon’s new Amazon Go stores, there are no checkout lines or cashiers. Instead, smart cameras and sensors in the shelves allow customers to fill their bags and be automatically charged via their Amazon accounts. While this specific technology may not spread to your store anytime soon, it points to the importance of shelf-level media. For example, many stores are adding digital screens, like these tablets by Moblty, that play related content at eye-level. If a customer sees content about a brand as they’re standing at the shelf deciding which brand to buy, could it influence their purchase? On a simpler level, including QR codes at eye-level that are advertised to share deals or more information could have the same effect.
Virtual reality is gaining popularity in retail, thanks to new apps and innovative trailblazers. In the liquor market, people most want information to know if a product fits their tastes and needs. Augmented reality is a creative way to get this information across.
For example, the wine brand 19 Crimes shares a free app with its customers, who can use it to learn more about the criminals depicted on the bottles. Using augmented reality, customers “scan” the front of their bottle, and see it animate to tell a story. This virtual reality element could manifest more universally, like sharing simple recipes and how-to videos when a customer scans a product within their app of choice.
Customers want a tailored experience when they shop, which can come in a variety of ways. But for you to create these moments, you need data-rich technology that can introduce you to those people shopping in your store.
When you know who your customers are and how they shop, you can create those coveted experiences. A free gift on their birthday, for example, is a simple personalization. When your database dives deeper into consumer data, giving you info like what items are most often bought together, and who buys them, you can make your store feel customized to your loyal shoppers, and increase your sales.
It’s crucial to use technology in the right ways to grow your business and engage customers, new and old. As technology continues to reshape the alcohol retail space, understanding and moving at the cutting edge of trends will help you succeed. Follow the lead of growing technologies, like on-demand apps and shelf-level media. Find ways to use the same resources—data, interactive marketing, etc.—to craft a unique and personal shopping experience that will bring customers back again and again.