Internet Wine Sales

Dear Retailers,

As ecommerce sales continue to grow (by some estimates up to 15%), it brings up new challenges and opportunities for brick and mortar stores who can leverage both online and physical presences.  Of course, the internet provides convenience that no one can ignore.  The best example of this is Netflix.  The online rental giant completely transformed the movie business, contributing to the closing of many video stores. With more wine and liquor websites popping up everyday and changes in the legal landscapes for inter-state shipments, how can retail stores work to stay competitive?

One way is to begin shipping wine yourself and becoming an option online for your customers.  Many of you have websites and might be thinking about selling online.  If you are thinking about it, you’ll have to do some research to navigate through the various laws for shipping wine to different states.   One of the best sources to help you navigate through this are the Fedex and UPS websites which lay out some of the restrictions and opportunities for sales in different states.  This is a great opportunity to start shipping within your state and then expanding outward.  It allows for customers the option of purchasing from your physical store or your webstore while also increasing your customer base beyond your geographical limits.

Don’t forget that as a retail store, you do play a special role in your customers selection process of wine.  Selecting wine can be a daunting process for any consumer. Of the thousands of bottles available on the internet, your store probably does not have the space to carry every wine on the market.  Your competitive advantage lies in your ability to have dialogue with your customers.  The internet’s wide selection offers variety, but very little in helping navigate through all the choices besides point ratings and some reviews.  It’s hard to ask google or wine.com what would my mother like to drink if she loves eating meatloaf?  Study the wine and other products your store carries and make sure you and all of your employees are experts on your products. Your team’s knowledge can be the difference in convincing a potential customer on a sale and establishing a trusted relationship over the long run. People appreciate guidance when it comes to wine as it’s a complicated product and are willing to pay a premium for it.   Of course your high volume wines will always need to be priced competitively and a good way to gauge your pricing is using wine-searcher.com as we discussed in our previous post.

We read an interesting article in the NY times recently that talks about how restaurant are posting their wine to be used on the new Apple Ipads. The additional information of tasting reviews by wine critics, notes by wine makers, and search aids have made people feel more confident, inspiring them to spend more money on a bottle with dinner. The Ipad takes an intimidating black and white list of wines offered on the spot at a restaurant and make them user friendly.   You can provide this same service for your customers on your selection of wines as a way to supplement your staff. Take the stress out of buying wine by helping your customers with your multi-faceted and personal knowledge. To aid in this process, consider taking notes on your customers. Notice what a customers likes, dislikes, and their price range to help you aid them.  Keep track of what they purchase over time if your systems allow to alert them to something they may like in the future.

Another service you can offer are hands on activities like tastings. We probably don’t have to tell you that this is a great way to sell wine. This is a service the internet cannot and probably will never be able to offer. If you don’t do tasting events, consider this a good way to get a leg up on the internet.

We don’t have all the answers, but hope we can inspire you to tackle some of the growing opportunities that the internet and your store can take advantage of.

Cheers!

True Fabrications

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