Top 100 Retailers: Ohio Liquor Excels Online

Our June issue of Beverage Dynamics magazine recognized the Top 100 Retailers, including Ohio Liquor (OHLQ). These beverage alcohol retailers represent the best of the best in the industry.

OHLQ is a public/private partnership that safeguards spirits distribution across the state through more than 480 locations. This includes connecting consumers with the products they want. OHLQ recently enhanced its ability to accomplish this task through a refreshed website and Instagram presence.

The relaunch of OHLQ.com happened in the second half of last year. “The goal for the new website was to be a full-scale source of support for sales and education for our stores,” says Anne Dimmick, OHLQ director of retail and brand experience.

Among the biggest upgrades was a comprehensive search feature that allows consumers to track down bottles they want — or learn easily about new ones. Users of OHLQ.com can search for any spirit by category. On the product description page — in addition to pricing and other details — customers can easily figure out if any Ohio stores currently carry that item. An interactive map automatically loads and shows where exactly that item is in stock.

This convenient process happens with the ease of determining one’s destination on Waze or Google Maps. OHLQ upgraded its website with modern consumers in mind.

The product locator also allows OHLQ a level of creativity with special events. The agency recently selected 15 single barrels of Russell’s Reserve bourbon. To help hype the launch of this huge number of highly sought-after whiskey picks, OHLQ released one barrel in each of its five major markets in the week leading up to Father’s Day. That weekend, the other 10 barrels dropped in 50 different stores. Customers could follow along online, pinpointing each unique bottle through OHLQ.com.

Naturally, some products people search for will be out of stock. (Not uncommon in our era of pandemic-hampered shipping and production.) Or, consumers may be interested in exploring similar-but-different items. That is why the product pages automatically populate a “You May Also Like” section, like on Amazon, with helpful, alternative suggestions.

Each page also offers cocktails that consumers could make with the searched-for product. Simply click on the drink photo for the full recipe and instructions — including links to other ingredients that someone may need to complete the cocktail.

“We hired a nationally recognized bartender based in Ohio to create 150 cocktails and mocktails,” Dimmick says. “Twenty-five percent of the cocktails on our site are mocktails, because responsibility is our core value.”

The website also offers alcohol-related news and helpful articles. An events calendar on OHLQ.com keeps consumers up to date with what the agency is doing. Altogether, the results of the project have been impressive. Since the relaunch, OHLQ.com has seen 1.9 million new users — a 90% increase from the previous year.

In 2021, OHLQ also focused on its Instagram profile, @ohioliquor. “We didn’t want it to be a duplicate of our Facebook, because the audience is a little different on Instagram,” says Kristen Castle, OHLQ director of brand and marketing strategy.

n 2021, OHLQ also focused on its Instagram profile, @ohioliquor.

For a while, the agency was reposting from Facebook onto Instagram. Now, OHLQ snaps its own photos for Instagram, with different objectives for the content.

“Facebook is for posting products, exclusives, launches. Instagram is more about users learning about spirits and spirits consumption,” Castle says. “Instagram lends itself primarily to beautiful photography. You can also talk a little differently on Instagram than on Facebook. Instagram is our happy place, if you will.”

For content, OHLQ posts about cocktails and recipes, and explores the production and distilleries behind the brands. “We educate consumers about the processes, anything that encourages product and brand exploration,” Castle explains. “Mocktails are also a huge focus for us on Instagram.”

“We also share resources about responsible consumption,” she adds. “We work closely with mental-health subject-matter experts to ensure that our content is appropriate. We’re very proud of that.”

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com. Read his recent piece Our 2022 Retailer of the Year: Gary’s Wine & Marketplace.The post Top 100 Retailers: Ohio Liquor Excels Online first appeared on Beverage Dynamics.
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Author: Kyle Swartz