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The Beer Store tries new concept store to improve shopping experience

Four new pilot stores in Toronto feature a new logo and redesigned space to attract more female consumers

“Shopping experience” and “The Beer Store” aren’t usually in the same sentence.

The Ontario suds retailer offers a rather stripped-down experience: customers stare at a wall of beer bottles and prices, line up behind a cash register, give their order to a cashier who repeats it into a microphone, and then walk to the other side of the store where their cases and kegs roll down a conveyor.

That’s about to change with four new pilot stores in the Greater Toronto Area.

The stores include a new name (dropping “The” from The Beer Store), new logo and redesigned interior space, all with an aim to improve the customer experience for beer lovers and attract more female clientele.

The redesigned stores include separate bottle return areas, more refrigerated beers, digital touch displays that allow customers to browse the product selection, and messaging around beer and food pairings.

the current design and structure of some of our stores were not necessarily catering to people who either didn’t know what they wanted or felt that it was a bit more intimidating,” said Andrea Randolph, vice-president of retail at The Beer Store.

“These stores are more inviting and there’s a lot more product to reach out to… Really, what we’re trying to do is make the experience as short or as long as customers want it to be," Randolph said.

READ: Grocery Gateway, The Beer Store team up to deliver craft beers this holiday

To further add to the customer experience, staff at the pilot stores underwent extensive product knowledge training, including information about the different types of beer, the brewing process and beer and food pairings.

Promotional signage incorporates the stores’ new positioning, “Meet Beer.” For example, The Beer Store’s menu (the previously mentioned wall of bottles) is now written on a giant chalkboard-like sign under the headline “Meet Beer.” And store signage has such lines as “Warmer Days Meet Beer” and “Playoffs Meet Beer.”

An ad campaign includes billboards and transit shelter ads around the four locations in and around Toronto. Signage is customized to each locale, so ads near the Bathurst St. store read “Bathurst Meet Beer.”

The stores will be evaluated over the next couple of months before the company makes firms plans for its 400 other Ontario locations.

“We’re going to evaluate which elements of the various test components are resonating with customers and obviously look at the business results and make a decision on what we roll and to what extent,” said Randolph.

The store design, branding and campaign positioning were all done by retail consultancy Jackman Reinvention.

This article originally appeared in Marketing magazine.

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