Wine Central is a New Zealand–based online retailer specializing in wines, beers, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages. When it launched in 2013, Wine Central’s original premise was to offer consumers wine specials and daily deals.
While its goal was to operate exclusively online, that all changed in 2021 when Wine Central moved into a larger warehouse space, reserving some of the square footage for its first ever storefront.
“It’s a section of our warehouse with its own entrance,” explains Paul Newport, Wine Central’s founder and CEO. “With pallets of our merchandise on the floors and shelves, it feels more like a warehouse than it does a typical store.”
To support his aspirations, Paul needed a point-of-sale (POS) system that would update inventory levels in real-time when purchases were made online or in-store, would allow his staff to serve customers from anywhere in the warehouse, and could support a loyalty program that used customers’ purchase history to recommend beverages that matched their preferences. With Shopify POS helping run its omnichannel business, Wine Central has enjoyed:
- The ability to sync its customers’ online and in-store purchase history to its customer profiles, enabling staff to serve up hyper-personalized recommendations and lift in-store sales.
- Smarter inventory management, with inventory levels being adjusted in real time whenever a sale is made in their store or online.
- The ability to use one platform to manage both its online and physical stores.
With the launch of Wine Central’s new storefront, Paul wanted a POS system that integrated with the business’ inventory management platform, Unleashed.
“We needed to have visibility on all our orders, whether they were initiated online or from our warehouse storefront,” Paul says. “Regardless of the channel where the sale was initiated, our inventory levels needed to remain accurate at all times.”
Paul also wanted Wine Central’s retail operation to facilitate “on-the-go” transactions, where his staff could interact with clients, look up inventory, and take payments from anywhere in the store. These features were essential for hosting wine tastings or selling at shows or events.
As such, he needed a POS system that worked on a tablet or smartphone, accepted accepted mobile payments, and would, and would help staff run wine tastings without being tethered to an immobile kiosk.
Since Wine Central was using Shopify to power its online store, using Shopify POS for its retail operation was a natural fit.
Rather than integrate a third-party POS to both Shopify and our inventory management platform, we saw Shopify POS as a natural way for us to build on our online store’s capabilities and expand into physical retail.
“With a tablet-based POS system like Shopify, we can transact sales anywhere in the warehouse easily,” says Paul. “We also ultimately want to transact sales at consumer shows, dinners, and other events, so being fully mobile—and having inventory reflect sales made anywhere—is very important in the long run.”
In addition to his mobile needs, Paul appreciates that Shopify POS’ customer profiles show both their online and offline purchase histories. This enables store staff to offer relevant recommendations to shoppers, see how often they shop at Wine Central, and surprise and delight them with gifts and exclusive offers.
“Our staff can see what a customer has bought, how much they’ve spent, and if they are a VIP customer,” says Paul. “This allows them to recommend new products with a higher degree of success and recognize a customer’s status with special offers and gifts. It’s those ‘surprise and delight’ moments that set our customer experience apart.”
Customer experience means everything to us. To improve that experience, we want to know our customers as much as possible. They need to feel like we know them, value them, and that they’re important to us. Shopify POS makes that simple with its customer profiles.
Having a physical store has proven to be an excellent customer acquisition tool. When shoppers buy in-store, they typically continue purchasing from Wine Central online. “We’re finding customers who come into the store for their first purchase are subsequently purchasing online as well,” Paul says.
Indeed, Wine Central’s retail store has proven to create stronger affinity with consumers and generate more sales. The growth has Paul excited for Wine Central’s future expansion into brick-and-mortar retail: “While we currently only operate a single warehouse store, if we can make that work for us, we would give serious consideration to opening additional stores in other locations.”
“We’re optimistic that we can grow in-store sales and have it be an essential part of our revenue generation efforts—and with Shopify POS, we can explore more in-person selling opportunities by way of seasonal pop-up shops or kiosks at events in the future.”
While opening additional stores is not on the immediate horizon, Paul notes that using stores as pickup locations for online orders is something the brand is looking into.
“Extending our physical presence would allow us to ship online orders to whichever store is nearest to the customer, enabling us to speed up last-mile delivery as well as offer click-and-collect order fulfillment,” he says. “The ultimate goal is to improve delivery times and offer same-day delivery in key locations around the city.”
For any online retailer looking to expand into physical retail, Shopify POS does everything you need. It works seamlessly with my online store and helps us create a more unified experience for our customers.
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