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IMPACT Seminar Snapshot: David Trone On “Building a National Retail Chain”

March 25, 2013

As more retailers expand into beverage alcohol sales, including major players like Wal-Mart and Amazon, the landscape is growing far more competitive for drinks retailers. David Trone, president & co-owner of Total Wine & More, addressed how his business is staying relevant and innovative in this ultracompetitive environment during his presentation at the Impact Marketing Seminar, held on Thursday, March 21 in New York.

Total Wine currently operates 90 stores across 15 different states, with more to come, and is estimated to hit $1.5 billion in sales this year. They have recently begun an aggressive remodeling program across their stores, adding new innovations to connect the consumers to the products’ makers and ease the shopping experience. “We need to pick up the whole decor package to become more comfortable because relying strictly on selection, price and service is not quite enough,” Trone said. “You need a fourth pillar, and that fourth pillar is moving the ambiance and shopping experience for the customer upscale a bit.”

Total Wine is incorporating technology to engage the consumer inside the store, using flat-screen TVs to build a “library of information” to play videos for consumers about the creation processes and the producers behind the brands. Trone also talked about Total Wine’s increasing emphasis on spirits. “We need to get very spirit-focused, and that’s including selection and how we deal with spirits in the digital age for the Millenial generation.” Additionally, Total Wine just started their “Brewery District” program last year—a “store within a store” concept, as Trone described it, highlighting craft and import beers, and is also adding growler stations to a number of their locations, as Shanken News Daily reported on March 13.

Trone also addressed the efforts being made to give Total Wine’s staff an edge in the market. They’re Cicerone-training store managers and incentivizing employees for advancing their drinks knowledge with additional classes. “If we can have the best people, we win. You’re not going to find those people in Wal-Mart or anywhere else,” Trone said.


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