The strength of knowledge remains a unique selling point for a quality off-licence. It is often the very thing that clearly distinguishes the outlet – and its operator – from other retailers.
NOffLA’s Gold Star Awards, have been a major marketing success since their introduction in 2001. This decade of success is based on the ability of qualified NOffLA members to select the very best wines from the hundreds made available from suppliers. A Gold Star Award has earned a significant level of credibility with consumers since its inception. Consumers recognise this mark as a mark of quality – an assurance from NOffLA members that these wines are better than the rest.
It is this ability to assure and advise consumers on the quality of our products that distinguishes NOffLA outlets from other alcohol retailers. This distinction continues to gain importance as competition in the off-licence sector grows and changes in licensing legislation to broaden the availability of alcohol at a retail level. Consumers visiting an off-licence expect more than to be able to purchase a particular product. They expect guidance and advice. It is the provision of guidance and advice that will prompt a consumer to return to a particular off-licence time and again.
Sadly, although most NOffLA members would acknowledge the importance of education and training in the trade, a growing, but relatively small number of NOffLA members were qualified to join the panel of judges for the Gold Star Awards this year. These were those members who hold the WSET Diploma or Higher Diploma. As our customers have become more knowledgeable about wine, it behoves NOffLA members to increase our standards to maintain the professionalism of the trade. The WSET Diploma is not easily achieved and is a long-term commitment. However, this level of expertise should be at the core of our business. NOffLA members should regard holding the WSET Diploma in the same way as they would insist on having an essential piece of equipment for their business. NOffLA members are encouraged to maintain their professionalism by formalising their knowledge in achieving the WSET Diploma as a recognised asset of their business.