Smart Partners

Willow Park Wines & Spirits

These Wine Experts Got a Tech Upgrade to Make Their Tastings Go Virtual

Pairing the perfect drink with your meal sometimes takes the help of an expert. Calgary’s Willow Park Wines & Spirits takes that knowledge to heart. With Alberta’s largest selection of fine wines and spirits and employees they call “Trusted Experts,” there’s something for everyone, and always something new to learn.

“You learn about wine one glass at a time,” says Peggy Perry, President of Willow Park. And she would know. Before joining the Willow Park team, Peggy spent 10 years learning about wine in Europe, and becoming an expert herself in wine education and marketing. That love of learning, of getting to taste almost daily in France, is channeled into the classes the company offers.

“Not only is our team very knowledgeable, but our customers have become very knowledgeable,” she says. “When they want to become experts, they can do so with our experts.”

Part of the challenge this year was maintaining the success of their tasting events that so many use to educate themselves and try new things. A pivot to 30 virtual tastings a month turned out to be the perfect move—once they got their tech in line.

With SmartWiFi and SmartVoice, we now have tons of ability—it’s a powerful system for us.

Peggy Perry, President of Willow Park Wines & Spirits

“We made the move to Shaw Business about five years ago, and recently we went through a whole upgrade which was really important for our virtual classes,” says Peggy. “We were having lag time, and now we’re not, even if we have 100 people on a virtual tasting.”

That upgrade, which includes Shaw Business’ SmartWiFi, SmartVoice, and SmartSecurity, ensures that each of Willow Park’s 100-plus employees is able to do their best work. “We now have tons of ability,” says Peggy. “All our employees, all of the admin team, with three to four devices each—it’s a powerful system for us.”

Luckily, the upgrade to SmartVoice didn’t mean Peggy and her team were tied down by too many devices. “There are so many points of contact for all of us nowadays, and I love that I never have to listen to another voicemail on my desktop phone,” she says. “All calls come to our cell phones and go to email. I found it very freeing, and when we went to call forwarding with Shaw Business, it increased everyone’s productivity.”

Team of staff poses for picture together

They’ve also just launched Shaw Business’ SmartTarget, a guest WiFi network that’s also an all-in-one marketing dashboard, so while guests connect with ease, Willow Park will be able to build strong customer relationships while receiving secure, anonymous insights into their demographics and behaviour. “I love that we’re going to be able to connect with our customers while in-store,” says Peggy. “And we were having trouble with WiFi in areas of the store, so Shaw Business did an inventory and added in extra points of contact so no one’s dropping calls or connections.”

With all the saved time and trouble that reliable services bring, Peggy’s able to focus on Willow Park’s three locations and two wholesale operations, along with the company’s charity arm, The Vintage Fund, which to date has raised over $5 million for local and international charities.

“I am super proud about the charitable focus we have,” she says. “It helps the team have a much bigger picture of what we’re here for.”

And at the end of the day, Peggy and Willow Park Wines & Spirits are all about sharing in the joie de vivre that the perfect bottle can bring. “For me wine is a food group. A meal is not complete unless I have the right pairing,” says Peggy.

And pairing the right tech with her business has made quite the impact as well. “We love the opportunity to be more efficient so we can focus on the customer.”