Consumers Advise Merchants on Selling and Merchandising

Aug 12, 2002

Ten things that The Wall Street Journal’s readers most want to tell their wine merchants, presented in inverse order, with the most frequently given advice at number one are:

10. Be cool. Readers are put off by an overheated store. They wonder if the
wines have been ill-treated all the way from the vineyard.

9. Keep track of likes and reward loyalty. At a time when stores keep information
about customers in their computers, readers wonder why wine shops can’t do
the same.

8. Play matchmaker. Readers pointed out that they usually drink wine with
food, and they wish retailers were more willing and able to recommend pairings.

7. Offer more bargains.

6. Hire better people. Readers feel that most store employees are either
clueless or snobbish (or sometimes, in our experience, both).

5. Don’t up-sell me and don’t hype.

4. Learn three little words, ‘I don’t know,’ instead of making up answers.

3. Post more information, but make it accurate. Readers wanted more information
from wine writers posted, partly so they could shop without having to talk
to store employees, who intimidate them.

2. Don’t treat me like a girl. There are a lot of angry female wine drinkers
out there.

1. Tell me what you think. This was the biggie. Readers are hungry for hand-written
signs from the merchants and for personal advice.

Moderator Comment: Do retailers, in general, know enough about the products they are selling? Is the knowledge (or lack thereof) communicated to consumers?

We had an interesting shopping experience in a local
grocery store yesterday. The chain store we were in had a $2.74 price for 56/64
oz. containers of a leading premium ice cream brand on page one of their flyer.

An announcement went out over the PA system several times
during our shopping trip that the store was now carrying a new brand of premium
ice cream (2fer featured on page 19 of the flyer). The store management was
sure that its customers would prefer the new product to the page one feature.
It was so sure, in fact, that it was offering a money back guarantee with no
questions asked for any shopper that bought the product and didn’t agree with
them. Based on our informal observation, those announcements led to significant
trial. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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