If you want a delicious bottle of wine to toast a special occasion in Colorado, or a case of beer for a party, you’ll probably head to one of Applejack’s stores. (You should — their range of wine, beer, and spirits is self-described as “as large as humanly possible”.)
But anyone browsing the aisles of gleaming bottles, then whizzing through checkout, might not realize the extra challenges wine and spirits retailers face in running their businesses — particularly those with more than one location. From navigating stringent, state-specific taxation laws to managing inventory sold in several different units of measurement, there’s a lot to deal with.
Fortunately, a good retail software suite, which includes modern ERP back-office software as well as in-store POS checkout can help wine and spirits retailers overcome these challenges and run efficient, profitable businesses. Here, we’ll explore the specific features wine and spirits proprietors should look for when choosing a retail suite.
What should wine and spirits retailers look for in a retail suite?
All retailers want an efficient, user-friendly retail suite that makes it easier to sell products, manage stock, and give customers a positive shopping experience. But beyond the basics, what are the key considerations for wine and spirits stores when selecting a retail suite?
Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements
If you’re selling wine and spirits, you face additional legal and regulatory requirements compared to selling groceries, clothing, or home appliances.
Taxation laws are more complex for selling liquor than for regular products, and vary state by state. Wine and spirits retailers need retail software with the flexibility to apply and report on varying rates of tax for stores that span multiple jurisdictions.
Subsidiary management for unique legal entities (not just for legally-owned subsidiaries) is crucial for many wine and spirits proprietors to run their businesses efficiently.
Several US states have laws restricting a single owner from having more than one liquor store. As a result, some wine and spirits retailers have several stores which are legally separate entities, but are managed jointly in some respects. For example, sharing operational costs, and centralized tracking and reporting of sales and inventory across all locations.
Flexible pricing management
Liquor retailers with multiple stores need the ability to charge different prices for the same items in different jurisdictions. A retail suite with flexible pricing options lets you manage your prices at different levels: product, brand, category, and location. This helps you set up promotions, manage markdowns, and control your inventory more effectively.
Many wine and spirits retailers offer discounts when customers buy in bulk. So a retail system that supports quantity pricing is a must — ensuring the sales price is automatically adjusted based on the quantity bought.
Inventory management for varying units of measurement
Bottles, cans, cases, kegs, six-packs, nebuchadnezzers, and more — wine, beer, and spirits come in many different units of measurement. Retailers in this vertical need a flexible retail suite that supports inventory control and sales of products in all of these units and sizes.
The key here is strong integration between your point-of-sale software and ERP system. A seamless integration means a faster, smoother checkout process and up-to-date inventory data — increasing customer satisfaction and staff efficiency.
When Applejack switched to SuitePOS for NetSuite, they were particularly impressed by its on-the-fly unit of measure and pricing conversion, which accelerates the checkout process and minimizes human error.
A reliably fast, smooth checkout experience
When sales traffic spikes — as it does for alcohol around holidays and special events — a speedy checkout experience really comes into its own. For wine and spirits store owners, being able to serve customers quickly and send them on their way — clutching their Californian reds, craft beers, and specialty bourbons — means happier customers and increased sales.
A fast, modern POS system is essential, with robust barcode scanning, and minimal hardware cluttering up checkout areas.
Customer account management and marketing
Many wine and spirits retailers offer in-store tastings and other events, and special promotions to drive more sales and build customer loyalty. A good retail software suite makes it easier for you to reward loyal customers, offer coupons, and run targeted promotional campaigns.
Finally, you may want to offer credit or special deals for VIP customers and wholesale accounts. In which case, your retail suite and POS needs to support this too.
Choosing the right retail suite for wine and spirits retailers
From tracking sales and inventory to providing customer loyalty programs and online ordering, the right retail suite can make the difference between a thriving business and one that struggles. Wine and spirits retailers need specific features to mitigate the extra challenges they face:
A retail suite that ticks all these boxes — such as SuitePOS — will help you increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, and manage inventory more efficiently.
Leading wine and spirits retailers including Zachys, Applejack, and The Vineyard use SuitePOS for NetSuite as their user-friendly, flexible retail system.
Find out more about how SuitePOS could help your wine and spirits business flourish.