Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the government-enforced lockdowns that resulted, the alcohol industry was booming. Back in 2018, liquor store sales represented 47% of all alcohol sales, totaling roughly $113 billion. The remaining 53% of liquor sales belonged to restaurants, bars, and other on-premise businesses, earning $147 billion in that year alone. These figures are according to Forbes, published in their April 2020 online magazine.
As retail and service-based businesses temporarily closed their doors in the nationwide effort to slow the spread of the virus, on-premise alcohol sales at restaurants, bars, and other locations plummeted, which had a positive effect on liquor store sales. Consumers were permitted to buy alcoholic beverages at liquor stores, these specialized retailers having been deemed "essential".
A little over a year ago, when lockdowns first began sweeping through the retail, restaurant, and service industries, the liquor store industry actually saw a 50% increase in weekly sales. For liquor store retailers, this was an obvious silver lining on an otherwise devastating--not to mention unexpected--pandemic.
But not all liquor retailers were prepared for the sudden spike in sales. Many "mom and pop" shops that had historically used good old-fashioned pens and notepads to record cash sales and archaic credit card machines to process card transactions struggled to keep up with the inflow of customers.
This quickly turned into one big fat missed opportunity for these retailers. They weren't able to collect customer information. They weren't equipped to market directly to new customers. The sudden surge in business, while initially beneficial to their bottom line, eventually crippled their sales and service operations. Once customers experienced the slow service and lack of personalized discount incentives, those customers moved on to other liquor stores that were fully capable of keeping lines moving in an orderly, timely fashion, and rewarding customers for shopping.
How did your liquor store fare during the course of this past year? Did the spike in customer traffic motivate you to invest in a modern, digital, networked Point-of-Sale system? Or have you only just embarked on researching POS options for your business?
The liquor stores that made the most out of the industry-wide increase in sales were able to do so because they had POS systems in place at their locations that used integrated hardware and software, which modernized and streamlined the checkout experience for both their customers and employees. By switching to all-in-one POS, these retailers were able to convert first-time shoppers into long-term loyal customers, and you can, too, if you invest in the best Point-of-Sale system for liquor stores.
There are five key "must have" features your liquor POS system should possess:
- • Sales tracking
- • Age verification capabilities
- • Advanced inventory management
- • Pricing options for specials and sales, whether by multi-pack, case, or unit
- • CRM capabilities for direct marketing
In this article, we'll take a look at all five of these must-have features and how each will benefit your liquor store business.
Tracking sales is the primary purpose of any POS system. Generating a sales report should be immediate and easy. For liquor store retailers who are still using an archaic Point-of-Sale system, sales tracking might seem straightforward, but reviewing sales reports is far from it.
If you need to arrange an appointment with your bookkeeper just to find out how your sales are doing, then it's safe to say your POS is not working for you.
On the other hand, when liquor retailers upgrade to a digital, or cloud, POS system that tracks inventory in real-time, they are able to review their sales numbers with the click of a button. You need to be able to see a realistic picture of your finances in order to make wise purchasing decisions.
AGE VERIFICATION CAPABILITIES
Your liquor store has a legal obligation to verify the age of every customer you serve, and you will be held legally responsible if underage customers are able to buy alcohol products at your location, whether or not you're aware of this occurring.
From time to time, cashiers who are swamped at the registers can forget to visually check customer IDs, especially if a customer appears to be older than 21 years. And unfortunately, there are also dishonest employees who allow their underage friends to buy liquor from them. Either way, your business's security could be compromised if underage individuals succeed at purchasing alcoholic beverages at your store. You could even lose your liquor license.
Don't risk it. Look for a POS system that requires age verification for relevant products. This way, your sales staff can sell glassware, bottle openers, and other products to customers of all ages, but as soon as an alcoholic product is scanned, the checkout process will not be able to proceed until the cashier scans the customer's ID and digitally verifies within the system that they are at least 21 years old.
ADVANCED INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Inventory tracking management should be at the core of any advanced POS system. Accurately managing your inventory is imperative. Inventory quantities impact every area of your business, from affecting your Balance Sheet--all inventory categories are "assets" yet "COGS" factor into those figures--to triggering your automatic reorders with vendors.
Leading digital POS systems on the market will come with inventory tracking, so be sure to avoid any POS packages that would require you to buy secondary software to track your inventory.
Carefully tracking your inventory empowers liquor store owners to make informed decisions about which items they should reorder, and which they should discontinue due to poor sales.
PRICING OPTIONS FOR SPECIALS & SALES
It's indisputable that in-store deals, discounts, and special sales are a surefire way to move products and boost sales. Customers love saving money and watching their hard-earned dollars go farther, which is why running promotions work no matter what time of year or where a liquor store is located.
Managing those promotional sales from an administrative standpoint, however, isn't all that easy unless your POS system can handle the complexities of setting temporary discounts.
Before you invest in a digital POS system for your liquor store, make sure that its software will allow you to design and run temporary discounts. The POS system, once you've programmed in all of the discount information and parameters, should automatically reflect the new prices as soon as your cashiers scan those sale items.
CRM CAPABILITIES FOR DIRECT MARKETING
Equally important to accurately tracking sales, managing inventory in real-time, and running successful in-store promotions is CRM, or customer relationship management. CRM refers to software technology that collects, organizes, and manages a company's customers.
There's nothing more valuable to a business owner than capturing the personalized sales histories of their customers, because that data can then be leveraged to launch relevant, direct marketing promotions. When a shopper receives an email or text message about a discount on their favorite wine, beer, or liquor, they will be far more likely to act on the sale than if they receive a generalized promotion featuring products they've never bought before.
Unlike the POS systems of yesteryear that didn't have CRM capabilities built right into the interface, in today's market, you can find POS systems with CRM integration.
MORE FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A POS
Want to make life even easier when it comes to managing your liquor store while quickly serving customers at the Point-of-Sale registers? Here are even more POS features to look for:
- • Purchase order & vendor management
- • Automated reorders with adjustable triggers
- • Online ordering options & local delivery requests
An advanced digital POS system that offers the latest technology and includes all five key features that we went over in this article will strengthen your liquor store business, increase customer retention, boost sales, and provide you with the best CRM tools so that you're empowered to market directly to your customer base. Even if you've recently opened up shop and don't see the immediate need for an advanced POS system, sooner or later your business will grow, and having these critical features in place from the start will ensure that your operational and sales needs will be met at every stage.
FTx POS Most Praised Features:
- • ID scanner with age-restricted parameters to guarantee you stay in compliance with state and federal regulations
- • Scheduling modules and staff management to schedule, track, measure, and empower your personnel
- • Complete inventory management that tallies spoilage and converts cases into individual bottles to accurately track products by the case, bottle, or six-pack automatically
- • Customer contact information collection built right into the POS to support future direct marketing and promotions
- • Versatile screen management options that enable you to tailor the POS interface layout so that best supports your unique liquor store
How else can FTx POS make your life easier? Our POS software and hardware solutions offer the latest technology to manage every aspect of your business from lottery sales to employee time cards with timeclock to biometric security features to eliminate internal abuses. Our liquor store POS screens can even supply your sales staff with scripted sales pitches they can read to customers at the checkout register. These Uplift scripts will pop up on the employee-facing POS screens when the UPCs you designate are scanned. When customers are presented with opportunities to save even more money by adding just one product or two to their order, your overall sales will increase significantly.