Willow Park Wines & Spirits president Peggy Perry, left, with Katherine Emberly, president of Shaw Business. Photo by Christina Ryan © Postmedia Network Inc.
Josh Skapin © Postmedia Network Inc.
Beer and wine tasting events were staples for Willow Park Wines & Spirits. But with restrictions around COVID-19, this vital piece of the business seemed destined to be put on ice.
After some quick thinking, and the services and support of Shaw Business, these events continued with attendees raising their glasses remotely using a computer or smart device.
“Within 72 hours of COVID shutting everything down, we became an operator of virtual events,” says Peggy Perry, president of Willow Park Wines & Spirits.
The business soon averaged 10 virtual tastings per week. To get there, Willow Park needed more than just a webcam.
“We quickly learned that we did not have strong enough Wi-Fi connectivity,” says Perry. “We needed to improve that technology quickly to accommodate that huge growth in our business.”
Willow Park leaned on Shaw Business, which provides companies of all sizes with industry-leading, enterprise-level connectivity solutions and expert advice.
“We had Shaw’s technicians improve our hardware so that our capabilities for both internet and Wi-Fi were enhanced,” Perry says.
Pandemic-related restrictions had a similar grip on many small businesses.
“The Canadian economy runs on small businesses, and for them, having access to fast connections is everything,” says Katherine Emberly, president of Shaw Business.
“When physical locations had to shut their doors as a result of COVID-19, that digital connection became the pivot point for so many businesses,” she adds. “For many of them, it was a lifeline to connect with their customer base, and with their employees who were working virtually. For some, it opened doors to customers that they didn’t have before.”
When restaurants closed, Willow Park had to press pause on its wholesale division, which accounted for $1 million to $2 million in revenue per week. But its online purchase and delivery service took a different turn.
“We went from offering four to five deliveries to homes per day to 200 per day within two weeks of COVID starting,” says Perry.
To meet this demand, Willow Park had Shaw Business upgrade their phones, improving their connectivity and support of applications that helped their drivers find the quickest routes for deliveries.
Shaw Business products are easy to implement, affordable and come with no capital costs up front. They bring small businesses many of the same products and services larger business have access to, says Emberly, adding that many digital transitions made in response to COVID-19 are likely here to stay.
“The idea of interacting with your customers digitally, working from anywhere, and the accessibility and usability of data, is going to continue to grow,” she says.
“When you go digital, you can think beyond your physical footprint. I think a lot of positives will come out of that and as our communities reopen, we celebrate the resilience of Canadian businesses, and the way they shape and enhance economic growth.”
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.