We recently launched a new interview series with retail buyers around the country. This week’s interview features Gary Fisch, founder and CEO, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey and Napa Valley.
Tell us about your store(s)
Founded in 1987, Gary’s has four locations in Northern New Jersey, as well as a new flagship location in St. Helena, Napa Valley. We do roughly $65 million annual revenue company-wide. Garyswine.com has over 150,000 unique visitors each month, and our mobile app has over 35,000 downloads on the Apple and Android app stores. We were voted “Retailer of the Year” by Beverage Dynamics magazine in 2012 and 2018, and by Market Watch magazine in 2014. We’re known among our guests for our elevated in-store experience, wine expertise, and everyday low prices.
How has COVID-19 changed your operations?
COVID-19 accelerated technology changes in our company. Since the health crisis began, over 35,000 customers have downloaded our mobile app. With the uptick in local deliveries and curbside pickup orders, we needed to streamline our internal operations and fulfillment capabilities. We are leveraging delivery routing optimization software to ensure that we are taking the most efficient routes when fulfilling local deliveries. We also introduced a customer support ticketing portal to allow for more real-time communications internally and externally with guests. We also launched a remote customer success team to ease the burden on our in-store teams of responding to customer inquiries.
How do you make decisions on new products?
My team of buyers uses a balance of science and art to determine which new products to bring in stock. We use data & analytics to analyze our product mix, and where we may be lacking SKUs in a particular category. We also have our ear to the pavement when it comes to listening to our guests’ product requests. From there, our team will taste thousands of products each year to make sure we are bringing items into the store that our guests will love. An important component to us is that there is a story behind the brand, as this story will help our wine experts sell the product to our guests during face to face transactions.
What is one piece of advice for brand owners in 2020?
In 2020, with so many purchases occurring online, we think there is a new way of “stocking the shelf.” Gary’s now considers “stocking the shelf” to mean adding descriptive content and beautiful imagery to a product page on our website and mobile app. Without wonderful and accurate content online, online browsers are not going to convert to a sale for your product.
Therefore, my advice for brand owners in 2020 would be to make sure your digital assets and product information are easily and readily available to be accessed by independent wine retailers who wish to use these assets on their websites & mobile apps.