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Successful Wine and Spirits Ecommerce Strategy 

Successful Wine and Spirits Ecommerce Strategy 

How suppliers, distributors, and retailers can be successful selling wine online. Selling wine by ecommerce is overtaking traditional retail sales. Retailers, vintners and vineyard alike can’t afford to miss-out on market share. As it becomes increasingly popular to shop for wine, beers and alcohol online, all three tiers of our industry must take advantage of new digital marketing opportunities. 

While many suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers view ecommerce as a “fourth tier” of the existing framework, we believe ecommerce should be integrated into the existing system in order to optimise the effectiveness of each of the three tiers. Consequently, we must empower vintners and vineyards alike to utilise the ecommerce space as an extension of our current reach. 

How Suppliers Can Level Up your wine and spirits ecommerce strategy

When initiating conversations with various suppliers about their digital strategies, we encourage them to start by articulating their online goals and priorities. Often a great place to begin is by ensuring their brands have good online representation and updated digital assets, in addition to learning about the B2B and B2C digital promotional opportunities now available for reaching both wholesale and consumer buyers.  

Suppliers should leverage the local expertise of their distribution partners through market-specific e-activation. One effective way to do this is through digital activations with high-volume and influential accounts. Like traditional merchandising efforts, local market relationships are a critical element of online foundations and eventual success. When working with top retailers, suppliers can request they feature the brands they represent in an email blast, banner advertisement, or perhaps even by hosting a virtual tasting. 

“One Prosecco rosé brand we represent grew their business 26 percent over a four-week pilot period through a mix of banner ads and local market activation.”

We’ve seen how effective these merchandising activations can be: One Prosecco rosé brand we chatted to grew their business 26 percent over a four-week pilot period through a mix of banner ads and local market activation. 

Another avenue of success can come from supplier activation with B2C retail ecommerce providers. Though each company specialises in a unique aspect of direct ecommerce, these types of providers can typically break down the barriers small retailers often face when trying to achieve digital equity and high-quality representation without the time or cost investment a custom solution would require. With the flip of a switch, web development groups (B2C focus) can unlock market-specific digital activations across thousands of retailers. 

Suppliers have also seen positive results with activations through third-party aggregated marketplaces which are overwhelmingly popular with consumers and have extensive reach. When conducting promotions through a consumer-facing marketplace, such as banners, targeted emails, or category takeovers, we recommend that our suppliers consider the potential impact to the account fulfilling the order. It is also important that the distance between the retailer and the ultimate consumer does not increase to the point of store anonymity. Consumers value their relationships with their local retailers and as the path to purchase is consolidated, the opportunities for communication and personal attention decrease. When negotiating agreements with B2C marketplaces, suppliers should make sure to retain access to data and sales results. This is a must when calculating return on investment.

“Through omnichannel digital activation and local market collaboration with distribution partners, suppliers can optimise and build lasting brand equity in the digital ecosystem.”

A multifaceted approach is a must in order to meet your customers where they are, and that includes trade buyers. On wholesale B2B aggregated marketplaces, suppliers can promote and advertise their products, reaching restaurant and retail buyers when they are searching for new items and placing orders to distributor reps. 

Another opportunity for improving marketing effectiveness lies with consumer-facing technology solutions (SwiftERM, for example) which offer suppliers the highest marketing returns utilising each consumer’s own online data, delivering personal product selection in marketing emails to each consumer to maximise the ROI, and therefore customer lifetime value (CLV) of that individual. If you send emails of exactly the products each consumer most adores, don’t be surprised that their loyalty to you skyrockets.

Through omnichannel digital activation and local market collaboration with distribution partners, suppliers can optimise and build lasting brand equity in the digital ecosystem. 

How Retailers Can Improve Online Sales and User Experience

The more control retailers have over their domain (both literally and figuratively), the better success they will have building a virtual trademark and extending their merchandising reach in the hyper-competitive online retail space. 

Product content on a retailer’s website is the first thing that consumers see and interact with before purchase. It is critical that retailers work to close content gaps and ensure that their brands are represented by high-quality and accurate digital assets. According to research conducted by Salesforce, 87 percent of shoppers engage with digital content before making a purchase either online or in store.  

The digital shelf is different, and it must be activated to capture all of the online sales opportunities. We encourage retailers to ask their salespeople for modern merchandising content that can help bring brands to life. Think of digital activation like offering 50-milliliter bottles at the counter—successful exposure will increase exploration, trial, and incremental sales. 

By creating a strong digital presence, retailers can take control of the online sales experience, including added space for supplier digital activations and more access to sales data. This data can be shared with their wholesaler and supplier partners to enhance product offerings, promotions, and subsequently, customer relationships. Additionally, by thinking creatively and offering store-controlled delivery options and programs, retailers can protect their franchise and prevent further marketplace consolidation. It’s also important for retailers to increase delivery efficiencies and clearly communicate expected delivery times, as we all suffer from the Amazon Prime expectations of one- or two-day shipping. 

While digital activation has grown exponentially, it is by no means replacing the paramount in-store experience. Thus, when creating a digital strategy, retailers must keep in mind that consumers often shop (and research) online before making in-store purchases. Keeping the online and in-store messaging consistent encourages a frictionless interaction between the in-person experience and online sales. 

Online activation has become a critical component of the omnichannel retail framework and will continue to increase in influence. To successfully compete by reaching the final consumer in a meaningful way, all three tiers need to adapt to an enhanced digital environment and provide a smoother path to purchase. It is critical that suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers embrace this online opportunity to both stay competitive and build the brands they represent.

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