3 Retail Lessons From the Beer Store's Overhaul

From branding and marketing to staff training and store design, how to modernize the shopping experience

Written by Staff

Lately, advice about how to improve your storefront has given way to advice about how to create a virtual storefront and compete in the new world of e-commerce. While e-tail should be on your agenda, no matter your business size, there are many products that are best sold through a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet.

Beer is one of those products.

In Ontario, if you want to buy beer, you need to go to The Beer Store. Currently, customers walk into a small space with nothing more than a counter and a wall of beer bottles and prices. They give their order to a cashier who repeats it into a microphone, and then walk to the other side of the store where their cases and kegs roll down a conveyor.

That’s about to change as The Beer Store undergoes a fairly comprehensive overhaul of its storefronts and brand. According to Marketing Magazine, four new pilot stores in the Greater Toronto Area are being designed. Changes will also include a new name (dropping “The” from The Beer Store), new logo and redesigned interior space, all with an aim to improve the customer experience for beer lovers and attract more female clientele.

The changes can be broken down into a few key strategies:

1. Leisure

The redesigned stores include separate bottle return areas, more refrigerated beers, digital touch displays that allow customers to browse the product selection, and messaging around beer and food pairings.

“[Research found that] the current design and structure of some of our stores were not necessarily catering to people who either didn’t know what they wanted or felt that it was a bit more intimidating,” Andrea Randolph, vice-president of retail at The Beer Store, told Marketing. “Really, what we’re trying to do is make the experience as short or as long as customers want it to be.”

2. Staff Training

Staff at the pilot stores underwent extensive product knowledge training, including information about the different types of beer, the brewing process and beer and food pairings. The shopper’s experience will now, in theory, be akin to that of shopping at the Wine Rack. Staff will be able to suggest a beer based on a customer’s preference, engaging with them on a new level.

Read 3 Essential Employees for Your Shop

3. Marketing

Promotional signage incorporates the store’s new positioning, “Meet Beer.” For example, The Beer Store’s menu (currently just a wall of bottles) is now written on a giant chalkboard-like sign under the headline “Meet Beer.” And store signage has such lines as “Warmer Days Meet Beer” and “Playoffs Meet Beer.”

An ad campaign includes billboards and transit shelter ads around the four locations in and around Toronto. Signage is customized to each locale, so ads near the Bathurst St. store read “Bathurst Meet Beer.”

Read Canadians Suck at Marketing

The store design, branding and campaign positioning were all done by retail consultancy Jackman Reinvention. According to Marketing, the stores will be evaluated over the next couple of months before the company makes firms plans for its 400 other Ontario locations.

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