Dan Murphy’s managing director Alex Freudmann said the microclasses are perfect for time-poor customers.
“We know that our customers want to discover and educate themselves about the world of drinks, but many are pressed for time,” he said.
“We’ve set up [the microclasses] so that if you’re particularly interested in something that’s in the store or something that the wine merchant has chosen to spotlight, you can taste it in there and have your own mini class.”
Wine merchants are now an important part of the Dan Murphy’s experience and are present in a quarter of stores. Freudmann told Inside Retail that these experts often bring experience as winemakers in Australia and around the world.
These microclasses will also provide an opportunity for brands to get in front of consumers, but the retailer plans to put the customer needs first.
“We tend to partner with brands when there are major launches but obviously it’s about being customer-led. One of the things about Dan’s is consumers trust us to be the educators in our category, so we’d always be quite cautious about that,” Freudmann said.
For those that prefer to explore on their own, there are “discovery” stations dotted around the store, which offer information about specific products or segments, whether it’s cocktail making, a local gin for whiskey or local craft winemaking. These will also be regularly refreshed to keep customers intrigued.
Tech on shelf
Technology also plays an important role in Dan Murphy’s targeting customers who are less likely to reach out to a store member to ask for help. The new stores feature digital shelf labels with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, allowing customers to access more product information and reviews via their smartphones.
Freudmann expects customers to “really embrace” digital shelves and believes this technology provides many more opportunities for engagement in the future.
“The potential is endless if you think about the kinds of content we can serve up to customers,” he said. “At the moment we’re serving them reviews from our own team and from other customers, but in time, you could see digital content, and who knows what else?”
The contactless ‘direct to boot’ service that has been rolled out in suitable Dan Murphy’s stores has been very well received by customers. At the retailer’s Manly Vale store, number plate recognition technology speeds up this process further so team members can quickly respond to those collecting their purchases. Freudmann expects this will develop further at the appropriate kind of stores in the future.
“If you look at what customers are looking to use technology for, it’s to make that delivery and pickup experience frictionless and also to make education and discovery really easy and really personalised. That’s where we’re investing our efforts in technology.”
The Melbourne South store offers on-demand delivery within two hours or less, as well as express pick-up, but because of its close proximity to a shopping centre, there is no space available for drive through or ‘direct to boot’.
Due to the explosion in demand for e-commerce in the last year, Dan Murphy’s is continually improving its online experience.
“There’s a famous quote, ‘your most recent best experience becomes your minimum acceptable experience’ and we definitely see that because customer expectations are increasing all the time,” Freudmann said. “For example, we’ve just launched live delivery tracking through our app and we can already see how much consumers are enjoying that one.”
Supporting local brands
As supermarkets have tailored their ranges to suit local communities, a similar approach is being taken in liquor. Each Dan Murphy’s store will feature a curated range suited to the locality and based on customer data.
At the South Melbourne store, it’s all about craft beer, with more than 450 different craft beer products available – the largest in any Dan Murphy’s store.
“We’re always guided by the local demand. We look at customer data very carefully to figure out what customers want locally and base our space allocations on that,” Freudmann said.
A commitment to supporting local brands is an important part of this strategy and something consumers are seeking more of, particularly at a time when there is so much innovation in the drinks category in Australia, according to Freudmann.
Solar power is becoming widely adopted in Dan Murphy’s stores and will be an important feature of their transformation. Currently about 15 per cent of 246 Dan Murphy’s stores now have solar power.
Driven by Dan’s
Freudmann said this new store format is “the future” of Dan Murphy’s and he’s excited to see it roll out across the entire network.
“With every new store we build, every refurbishment we do, we expect to be moving into this new format,” he said.
He is particularly proud that the store transformation has been a team effort that will be implemented across the entire business.
“What I’m most proud of with this one is that it started with a very specific customer idea around discovery, which is what our brand framework is built around, that’s been translated into a store design, a space allocation, involvement from the merchants in the business. What you see is a real embodiment of what I think is the beating heart of Dan’s is – this strive for discovery.”