Mere months ago, pre Covid-19, the idea of digital wine lists and menus could easily get off shrugged by wine store proprietors, restaurant managers and sommeliers. Afterall, a true professional cares deeply about maintaining a personal touch with customers.
Another reason for keeping the high tech idea on the back burner was the challenge technology could pose to some customers.
A third obstacle was allowing staff to use their smartphones. Could be distracting and counter productive.
Another was the high cost of tablets for staff use. Devices can also fall and break. Sometimes they get stolen too. Fair.
Wine tech could distract from other beverage sales like beer, cocktails and spirits, some said.
Then came the budget issue. A reason used by well intending professionals to maintain their sanity and control of their hectic schedule.
One more reason we heard many times, was staff concern about technology making their job redundant.
A frequent one was questioning whether staff would use the technology or whether the investment would go to waste.
Finally, the circuit breaker: questioning whether the ROI on automation can be meaningful.
THE FUTURE IS TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATION
Ultimately, many managers knew that the future of business and growth must revolve around technology and automation.
Customers are glued to their phones. They shop the aisles of a wine store, phone in hand. They scan labels, check wine reviews online or text a friend for an opinion.
In a restaurant, whether in the waiting area or at the table, people just can’t put their phones down for too long.
In a liquor store, with all their good intentions, staff can never assist everyone who comes in. When they can, not all of them really know what they are talking. Often they too must look at the wine labels. How many wine sales staff can remember details of hundreds of wines anyhow?
In restaurants as well as in retail, there is a big disconnect between customers and staff that must be fixed. Customers use tech to browse, search, show, tell and talk. Staff are at a disadvantage right off the bat.
Give your staff technology to increase their confidence and bridge their connection with customers. Your staff too live and breathe tech. Peel off that edge and they are left exposed and uncertain. This is the 21st century afterall.
If all this is not enough reason, research after research show that consumers put more trust in staff who use technology.
A MOST UNEXPECTED CATALYST
It was only a matter of time before the digitization of food menus, wine lists and wine search in stores became the norm.
An unfortunate catalyst however had to force the hands of the liquor retail and hospitality sectors. A pandemic.
We have been told by clients that Covid forced them to initiate projects they know they should have done years ago.
THE SILVER LINING
Now that companies have started to realize the sizeable benefits of digitizing food menus and wine lists, will they ever revert back to the status quo in the future?
Here are some of the productivity and cost saving benefits of using a searchable, editable, engaging digital wine list in a restaurant or wine store:
1) Stops the paper waste
2) Cuts or eliminates graphic design costs and time
3) Easy to update on the spot, maintains your wine list up to date for a better customer experience and better use of staff time
4) Allows you to add photos. At a recent dinner with friends, someone at our table who was not tech and QR code friendly, reacted with delight when he saw the well-lit menu on another guy’s phone. While the printed menu he had asked for was black and hard to read. The man could not tell what the dishes really where either, since we were at an Iranian restaurant and he was unfamilar with the various dishes. Once he saw the photos on his buddy’s phone, he was converted
5) Eliminates unnecessary trips to the cellar for wines that aren’t available. Cuts the delays, time and energy waste, and related productivity and revenue loss
6) Rids you of unnecessary apologetic encounters with customers
7) Speeds up wine selection browsing and decision making time. With that, increases average total wine sales per table. In retail, it improves customer loyalty
8) Gives staff confidence to present and sell any wine, even if you carry thousands of SKUs. Whether they had tasted it and were trained on it, or not. What is the ROI impact on your wine sales when you cut the time that new staff need to ramp up their wine knowledge? How much money is that learning curve costing your business each year?
9) Saves your sommelier and most experienced wine staff members a lot of time so they can focus more of their time on selling instead of supporting junior staff
10) Allows customers to browse your wines and pre-order while in the waiting area. Just place an elegant, inviting QR code and message in the waiting area and watch smartphone-happy customers eat it up
11) Allows your most experienced wine pro or corporate sommelier to share their wine tasting notes with staff across the company without as much as moving from their chair. How is that for your sommelier to add more value and enable your staff more efficiently?
12) Gives new staff access to critical wine knowledge from day one on the job, even with no prior wine training (think more savings). A company we know spends over a quarter of a million dollars every 12 months on WSET training!
13) Allows you to train staff virtually online, saving everyone tremendous time and money. During Covid, this also better protects your trainer and your staff
14) Retains wine knowledge within the business even after a key staff member leaves. How valuable is that?
15) Improves loyalty by allowing customers to browse and decide on wine, from home. By the time they show up, they know what they want. It saves everyone valuable time and speeds up customer service.
During the social distancing era we are living through, why would anyone want to shop anywhere else?
What additional areas of your business can benefit from automating wine lists and publishing tasting notes to your website and to staff and customer smartphones?
Place QR codes anwyhere and let people do their thing. Staff can guide customers, patrons can help themselves and everyone can start to speak the same language, move faster and better.
CARRY IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
Will you, after experiencing the productivity and revenue gains of QR codes and digitization of your menus and wine lists, now that staff and customers know how the tech works and still maintain that personal customer touch you cherish, dump these benefits to go back to the status quo once the pandemic is gone? Or will you build on what you have learned, and the technlogy you have deployed, to maintain a better business for the long haul?
We invite you to fill in the blanks and to call us for a demonstration of the QUINI SOMM™ system.
There is nothing like it. We envisioned it and built it with you and your business in mind.