Bella Vista Beer Distributors

December 26, 2017

Bella Vista applies the “science of retail”, adapting to today’s changing beer landscape.

When the recent 6 and 12-pack laws went into effect in Pennsylvania, Bella Vista was determined not only to incorporate these new packages into their lineup, but use them to completely transform the way they market their beers and engage with their customers. In the past, Vice President Jordan Fetfatzes adopted business techniques 

from other successful beer retailers – but with the off-premise industry changing in PA at record speed, Fetfatzes now strives to replicate the shopping experience a customer might have at a store like Target. The results are paying off in spades.

 

Heady Times (HT): You’ve just undergone a major renovation. What changed?

Jordan Fetfatzes (JF): Well the law changed, so we had to adapt. We decided to double down and invest in our store, top to bottom. We really wanted to focus on the actual science of retail, which is used in stores like Target and Walmart. We let those strategies drive the changes in our store. Pretty much everything was affected by that shift. We repainted, installed heating & air conditioning and new marker signs. There’s a uniformity to Bella Vista now. But we’re transforming the less noticeable things as well. Take our lighting for instance. We positioned it in a way that doesn’t cast any shadows. We installed soft wood features for our counters and shelves as opposed to cold steel. And we switched from hand trucks to actual shopping carts. You wouldn’t think so, but small changes like these can have a huge impact on the way people shop. We’ve found that customers actually put more product in a shopping cart because it’s at waist level. It’s easier to load and unload shopping carts even though they seem smaller. They actually hold more.

 

HT: So these techniques have had a direct impact on your sales?

JF: Oh yeah. Some retailers were worried when the 6 and 12-pack laws went into effect. And with good reason. It shook up the industry. But we’ve found that our volume hasn’t decreased at all. Instead of buying one case, we’re seeing customers put 5 or 6 different 6-packs in those shopping carts. They mix it up with a single bottle and maybe a four pack here and there. So our ring average is actually $11 higher than it was before the law changed. It’s one of those things where you’re doing more for your customer in terms of service, but you’re still making money in the end.

 

HT: What would you say your ratio is in terms of customers who come in looking for craft beer vs. domestic?

JF: I’d say the ratio is about 50-50.It’s that high. We offer variety because that’s what our customers want. If all they wanted was domestic premiums, that’s what we’d stock, but the reality is, variety is what they look for. The domestic offerings, to me, are like the eggs, bread and orange juice at a grocery store. You get them every time you come in.

In terms of our craft customers, we benefit from being in Center City. This area is savvy and enthusiastic about craft. I’ve always believed you’re only as good as your neighbors and your customers. Fortunately for us, we have about 15,000 residents in a six block radius.

 

HT: With all the changes to your store and to your marketing strategy, have you seen your customer base change at all?

JF: For sure. We’re seeing new customers as well as more frequent visits from our regulars. A lot of people who didn’t come here before because the law only permitted case sales, are now stopping in for a 6-pack.

 

HT: Other than the change in the size of the packages you sell, which of your new strategies has improved sales the most?

JF: The secret to keeping new customers coming back is that nothing in here is stagnant. Everything gets moved, everything evolves. Beer is rotated in and out – displays, tables, they all change. We call those points of interruption and we always want them to pop – always want to make sure we engage our customers in new ways. We want them to stay on their toes and have a fresh feeling every time they walk in. It’s all about the science of retail.

 

BVBeerPhilly.com • 755 S 11th St., Philadelphia • 215-627-6465

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