Potential Problems

Recently, I was in a seafood market and noticed that they had significantly curtailed their wine selection.It got me thinking about where they might have gone wrong and why they would be cutting back on selection.Then, I thought about what I could do to help if there was a problem.
The first thing is that it might not be a problem at all.That is, perhaps they found that only a handful of their wines were actually selling.Therefore, why keep the inventory around if it would never sell anyway.This could have been the result of an analysis that they did on their sales or customer base.If their sales were pointing to a lack of interest in specific varietals or labels, then this move was entirely justified.Also, they could have surveyed their customers to find out what they should sell.They perhaps found that potential sales were never going to happen as their customers were just not interested in wine.In all, they could have made the move on entirely solid grounds.
Then I started thinking about some of the problems I have noticed as a customer .These problems would definitely have led to a curtailing of their wine selection.The first problem I noticed was that all their bottles were right near the window.This may be fine for short term items, but there were a lot of dusty bottles.The wines were literally being cooked in the sun and these were mostly white wines.The ultraviolet rays were degrading the wine and may have led to some bad experiences for customers.The second problem was the dust.The bottles were definitely not moving very quickly and this might have turned off some customers.The third thing was that they never sought to indicate how to match the wine with the fish.It was almost as if they got the liquor license, then plopped some bottles down and expected them to sell.I never once saw a recommendation for pairing wine with the many types of seafood they have for sale.This place has a great selection of seafood, so I always wondered why they didn’t do this.People look to them for advice on seafood, so pairings would be an obvious way to spark interest in your selection.The final problem I saw was that the staff was very knowledgeable about fish, but clueless on wines.If you asked for a recommendation, they looked over at the winesand had no idea.They had no wine knowledge to share with the customer.
After seeing these problems (if there is one), I wondered what I could do to help.The first thing I would do is to understand the owner’s strategy.What is the goal for this store?Is it to be a one stop shop for dinner, a premier fishmonger, or a hybrid liquor/seafood store?Or is it simply to increase sales?The key is to understand what the ultimate goal is.If wine isn’t in it, then abandon the wine and move towards what you want to do.Assuming that the wine is part of the strategy for the store, I would strive to make the owner understand that there are different capabilities that need to be developed and supported if there is a wine program.These capabilities include customer relationship, employee development (in wine), and distributor management.The owner appears to have these mastered in the fish world, but the wine world is different.Different types of customer engagement, employee development, and distributor management is needed to be successful.Once these capabilities are defined, I would put them on a path to achieve mastery of those capabilities.As an example for customer engagement, they should do more with indicating pairings for their different types of seafood.When describing their fish in their newsletters, they need to add in a blurb about which wine pairs well with it.When selling the fish in the store, have your employees mention which wines go well with the customer’s order.Have a cheat sheet near the cash register that the employee can reference, but at least make the effort to suggest pairings for each order.
So, those are some of my solutions that I would prescribe for this business.Hopefully, they can turn things around if they wish.Otherwise, the fish market in Maynard can give me a call and I can help them (and their customers) find perfect matches for wine, seafood, and business.