So what sparked this post?
Yesterday, I was at one of my favourite wine stores in Calgary – the Kensington Wine Market. I was there for two (2) reasons: (1) Window shopping – checking out some of their unique stock; and (2) They were having a sale this weekend, so I was scouting some wines to add to my cellar.
Here’s a handy detail that is not immediately obvious to most wine store employees: wine is one of my hobbies. I am not saying that to be a smart ass or a snob. Nor am I an alcoholic ;-). I will be soon working on my sommelier diploma (I have completed 2 levels already), and I enjoy the discipline of trying to figure out what wine pairs with food. So I spend what maybe a disproportionate amount of time in wine stores checking out their inventory. This entails taking pictures of wines that I would like to consider adding to my cellar. On my phone, I have this fantastic app called Vivino, it helps me keep track of my cellar and crowd sources reviews on almost 900,000 wines. Vivino has a reasonably good rating system that I have come to trust in helping me select a decent bottle of wine. That does not negate that I am willing to accept a recommendation from a friend or employee.
While I was in the store, I was taking a picture of a bottle of Leviathan (a California red) and checking it against its Vivino rating (i.e., if I was considering $50 for a bottle of wine, it better be good!). During this act one of the managers (or who I assume was a manager) came up behind me and asked if I was interested in the bottle of wine. I told them that I was but I was taking pictures for future reference of wines that like to consider adding to my cellar. This person shook their head and said that they did not like people taking pictures in the store. This struck me as odd, and I felt uncomfortable and quickly left the store without buying anything.
Let’s consider the following…
Good wine is a social thing – it is made for sharing and having a conversation over. It was an enabler of the original social media! Given my interest in wine, I follow other wine reviewers on Twitter and share my recommendations with all my friends on Facebook and Pinterest. Typically, when I find something that I like I will share a picture of the label and tell my friends where to get this wine.
Now, it strikes me as odd that a proprietor or store representative does not grasp this nuance that I am effectively a sales channel for them. A free, unpaid, advocate and credible channel. Unpaid content too. And to a motivated audience – I could potentially be driving traffic to the store to buy some pricey wine. Further, I want to have the best possible wine experience where I want to know I am buying a wine that is well rated by folks who share my taste. And this is being enabled via apps such as Vivino on my smart phone. Businesses that have archaic attitudes to such devices need to get over themselves. They are losing out on the potential of the collaborative economy. An economy that is bigger than your store. The smartphone is really your friend and gateway to a larger market. It enables a highly networked sales channel and the ability to connect with and bring thousands into a store like never before. In fact, the more that folks know you have great wine, the easier it is to covert sales.
Clearly I am but one customer. And this business has been around for years. They have a decent but dense newsletter. But if they are saying this to me (is it only me?), it makes me wonder what their vision is and their evolution strategy as people have better tools to evaluate their wine choice and share their views on their purchases. And you have to be nice. Else customers think you don’t care. You don’t get them. And you don’t get it.
While some businesses focus on remaining entrenched within the retail economy, they need to realize that they have to evolve to meet the need of the collaborative economy. Your customers are expecting more engagement. And more license to share your content and amplify their love for your business. Why not enable it?