Here on the Kenshoo Local product team, we spend a lot of time with our clients talking about the challenges they foresee in the coming year. During a recent conversation with a regional retailer of beer, wine, and liquor, we discussed the growing trend of online wine purchasing and how it was negatively affecting their business.

Suddenly, their brick-and-mortar business could shift from one heavily dependent on real estate planning to one focused on a differentiated experience.  What utility could they provide to consumers beyond low prices and access to inventory?

Ideas largely fell into two camps.  The first group of ideas revolved around ways to improve the in-store experience –  installing tasting stations, offering a bar-like experience, hosting educational events, and bringing in guest bartenders to teach basic cocktail making skills.

In addition, connecting their store experience to their website was seen as critical.  The team considered posting online drink recipes above the in-store drink ingredients, running digital campaigns to promote in-store events, and displaying wine reviews from the online wine community.

The second group of ideas explored how the retailer could become the regional leader in online ordering and delivery. Building content campaigns around strong communities that already existed was at the top of the list. The team thought they could create content that would be interesting to wine enthusiasts, and then, enable them to easily buy the products they need online by leveraging the bevy of existing websites and apps that have a large user-base but very little monetization.

By the end of the short exercise, the marketing team had a list of ideas. Some were new, some old, and some silly, but the takeaway was that the process helped them think about how to use their physical stores as a competitive advantage and spurred additional discussion around the company’s marketing plan for 2014.

Do you have physical stores or locations that you’re viewing as overhead instead of advantages? How can you connect your online and offline efforts to make your physical locations a differentiating feature? Take some tips from our innovation team and start brainstorming!