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May 7, 2007 | Resources and Tools , Wine Industry Trends | WineDirect Admin

Ecommerce not for the wine industry - not quite true

Wow - sometimes I see information that I just have to challenge - last week after the MKF seminar did a great service for the industry with a consumer direct report. Unfortunately they only used one data set and some of the conclusions were unfortunately skewed. You can see some of the quotes here.

What bothers me most about this are a few things:

Using only one outside source to help build the data set. I know there is sooo much consumer direct data available and I would hope that next report they tap other people with large wells of information.
The statement (paraphrased) that all direct sales start in the tasting room and that people are not buying wine by the internet is absolutely not true. Also if we as an industry accept that, it is extremely myopic. Limiting ourselves to only people that come to the tasting room severely narrows our addressable market. I, with 1000% confidence, see e-commerce and wine growing year over year (trust me, I have the proof). I also see this as a way that wineries, with the very difficult market dynamics, can break out of their limited barriers and have a world wine audience. The notion that people only research and then buy off-line is very difficult to believe (the empirical evidence we have aside) since MOST brands do not have enough distribution that would allow someone to research their product and go buy it nearby. How often do you see Hourglass, Kosta Brown, Turley, and on and on in nearby stores. How much Kistler do you think goes to the state of Ohio. The distribution issues play so well into the wineries favor making it almost necessary for a consumer to have to go buy the wine directly from the winery.

The growth in consumer direct has the most potential in e-commerce and phone. To capitalize on this opportunity, wineries need to build plans and invest in these two channels (it takes money to make money). Simply putting up a website does not constitute e-business. That is like saying that putting a sign in front of my winery makes it ready for business. Direct takes much more than just launching a website and until wineries commit to it as a serious channel, it will continue to look less successful to wineries not leveraging it to the maximum. Trust me, there are more consumers at home looking for great wine than people who travel to winery tasting rooms.
Though I am thankful for the report, I am disappointed at the message.

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