The past decade has brought a surge of new technologies empowering small business owners with new sales and marketing channels and deeper insights into their customers and sales.
Advancements in web development, mobile apps, inventory management, data analytics, CRM and digital marketing have provided significant opportunities for wine and spirits retailers to offer better service to their consumers and develop profitable new sales avenues.
“Ten years ago, wine and spirits retailers primarily used e-commerce to have a shipping business.” observes Adithya Bathena, owner of Super Buyrite Liquors in Jersey City, NJ and CEO of the Buyrite Liquor franchise, “Today, e-commerce is an essential part of day-to-day operations with customers ordering for local delivery, in-store pickup and, as of Spring 2020, curbside pickup.”
Under Adithya’s leadership, many of the 50 Buyrite Liquor store owners have stayed ahead of the curve with new technology – giving customers the option to order from different franchisees directly online, or through the Buyrite mobile app. As a result, Buyrite franchisees are seeing an overall increase in business, with online sales outpacing in-store growth by 5x. Since the Buyrite mobile app was introduced in 2018, mobile purchases account for more than 50% of online sales. In addition, because orders are placed directly with the store – rather than a 3rd party aggregator – Buy Rite franchisees retain more profits from each sale and get to establish a relationship with the customer.
But leveraging multiple technologies also comes with its challenges – when technology services are provided by different companies, the platforms often don’t “talk” to one another. This can cause huge headaches in accounting and inventory management, inaccuracies in data analytics and require marketing campaigns to be re-configured multiple times for different platforms.
To save time, money and resources for franchisees, Adithya chose to consolidate Buyrite’s technology under a single, unified platform: City Hive. City Hive provides B2C online ordering, marketing, inventory management and data analytics – streamlining efficiencies and cultivating a loyal customer base.
At the most basic level, having a website and mobile app powered by City Hive allows Buyrite Liquors franchisees to save time by managing their online sales and digital marketing from a single interface, but the benefits go much deeper than this.
City Hive integrates with each store’s POS system, giving franchises instant access to their inventory and sales in-store, online and through their app. At the corporate level, Buyrite Liquors can amass anonymous data to evaluate and share trends with franchisees.
“City Hive’s data analytics tools make it really easy for us to see product sales, customer history and better identify sales trends for different audiences. It gives us, as a franchise, the full picture to help us make informed decisions on stocking the shelf, pricing and promotions, services to offer our customers and marketing initiatives,” says Adithya. “Using City Hive’s platform, stores can learn at a bigger scale and share best practices at a bigger scale.”
To further streamline marketing efforts, Buy Rite Liquors initiated a new feature created by City Hive that gives the corporate office the ability to provide content and promotional graphics to franchisees, through the City Hive platform. Store owners who choose to use the content can activate promotions in seconds – leveraging corporate staff to create content, graphics and social media saves stores a lot of time and money, while maintaining brand consistency.
“Something I really like about City Hive is that the team not only listens and understands what is important for our business, they take quick action to develop what we need,” says Adithya. “It almost feels like I have my own dedicated tech team.”
During the COVID19 pandemic, the importance of online ordering was validated and it became clear that technology is essential to run an efficient business today.
Stores that had City Hive’s ecommerce technology in place prior to the pandemic, on average managed a 1,500% sales increase between March and April 2020 – that increase is 5x larger than what Neilsen reported for online sales of alcohol during the same time period as compared with 2019.
As a franchisor, Buyrite Liquors aims to give stores owners all the tools they need to run a successful business – and with City Hive, they are able to provide franchisees with access to the most comprehensive e-commerce technology for beverage alcohol retailers, deep insights into their customer base and product inventory, and a streamlined approach to promotions and marketing.
Moving forward, Buyrite plans to bring more stores online every year and expand its footprint to emerge at New Jersey’s dominant player for local delivery and order ahead for pick-up. With a powerful e-commerce platform that enables store owners to leverage corporate marketing expertise and content, Buy Rite is empowering its franchisees with the tools they need to be successful online and in-store.