Why the wine industry needs to take a new approach to ‘sustainability’ and e-commerce

The legacy of wine e-commerce has been that aficianados use the internet to search for hard-to-get labels or buy futures for exclusive releases, Neslin said. But that the expansion of e-commerce has shifted the brand experience from the elite to the mainstream.

A structural change has taken place in wine e-commerce with the pandemic. Brick-and-mortar retailers have dramatically expanded their e-commerce reach for local pickup and delivery, helped by state and local laws that have relaxed some ability to do so with adult beverages, even temporarily, a Neslin said. Online grocery sales during the pandemic have doubled, but online alcoholic beverage sales have tripled during this time.

And in the pandemic with tasting room traffic cut off by public health orders and reluctant travellers, winemakers have turned to email, video conferencing and other virtual tools to re-establish contact with customers who visit them. visited to rebuild and strengthen relationships. This is partly why traditional wineries have outperformed purely online wine clubs that rely on social media marketing, he said.

“It’s just a function of past inaction and harvesting lots and lots of fruit at hand,” Neslin said.

To reap more from those sales, even small wineries should hire at least one person in sales to oversee e-commerce marketing or outsource that function to a marketing agency or distributor, Neslin said. After all, three-quarters of wine sold through e-commerce now goes through America’s three-tier liquor distribution system (producer, wholesaler and seller), he said.

Coming out of the pandemic; acquisition announced

How to start a wine brand during the unprecedented upheaval of the pandemic? That was the response from the conference panel consisting of Marla Bedrosian from Russian River Valley Domaine de la Rivere winery, Sarah Puil from Boxt, founder of the ultrapremium boxed wine club, and Steve Harrison from the Vinoshipper e-commerce and compliance platform.

Bedrosian released the first version of its brand under 1,000 cases per year in fall 2019 and had planned to release its wines at Sonoma County corporate events in spring 2020. But public health measures have suspended this route to consumers. during two years.

Luckily, she had continued on her way to the market through her previous career in the hospitality industry.

“Our strategy was to reach the corporate world,” Bedrosian told conference attendees.

In late 2019, she worked with event planner contacts to set up a video conference that got her talking about wine, and she sold two cases. This led to more appearances at corporate events, and Vinoshipper worked to get wine to remote worker addresses in time for it to hit the screen.

And this marketing movement has extended to the declining COVID world. Last month, Vinoshipper arranged to offer wine to more than 300 attendees at an in-person conference in Orlando, while Bedrosian spoke about wine via video conference from Alexander Valley.

Windsor-based Vinoshipper has transformed since its founding 15 years ago into a platform to help even small wineries easily manage the laws and regulations around direct-to-consumer shipping and the sale of online wine across the country, Harrison said. The company now has more than 2,000 winegrower customers.

To become more of a winery business software tool, Vinoshipper on Tuesday announced the acquisition of software company CompleteDTC from Rigerly Evers.

With the ability to technologically compete with larger wineries, winemakers can do what they do best, Harrison said.

“Big companies just can’t compete with smaller producers…on this intimate experience,” Harrison said.

Boxt began rolling out its boxed wines several months after the pandemic began, in October 2020. The 3-liter boxes sell for $89 a la carte or $79 subscription, and 90% choose subscription, said Puil. But they like the ability to choose which of the eight available wine flavor profiles will be in the order.

“Customers expect choice,” she said.

That’s what she found frustrating about many wine clubs that ship by the case.

“We’re at a stage in life where we can have whatever we want delivered to our doorstep,” Puil said. “People want what they want. And it’s up to us to give it to them, otherwise they won’t buy from us.”

Presenting partners for the conference were Farella Braun+Martel, Moss Adams and Wells Fargo. The Gold Partners were Bank of Marin, Pisenti & Brinker, Ghilotti Construction Company, Exchange Bank, Heffernan Financial Services and Carle, Mackie Power & Ross. The Silver Partners were Western Health Advantage, DH Wine Compliance, Interwest Insurance Services, Wright Construction, BPM, Canopy Health, Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty and Rabo AgriFinance.

About Michael Brafford

Check Also

Sonoma County Wine Auction Returns to Healdsburg’s Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards

There were many spiraling bids at the main attraction of the Sonoma County Wine Auction …