Online wine sales have enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, the whole world over. Every week new websites pop up, each with their own specificity, while the major league players such as China’s Alibaba or Ebay from the US are developing their own wine-selling platforms around the globe. France is following suit with major Bordeaux traders such as Millesima now notching up 85% of their turnover online (and that market share is constantly growing), and more recently the traders Borie-Manoux who have just opened an online store lagrandecave.fr (for the French market only). We could also cite Albert Bichot in Burgundy who, in a smart move, created the website Hospices-Beaune.com, enabling enthusiasts to buy en primeur wines at the prestigious Hospices de Beaune auction – and from just one bottle. Naturally, the entire Bichot range is also available via the website.
There are numerous examples in a multitude of formats even though this wine e-business is still in its infancy, because we can easily imagine that Millennials, used as they are to buying online, will lap up this type of offer. But what are the keys to the success of an effective wine e-business? Above all, customers are looking for advice, as they are in a traditional wine shop, but also good value for money, good bargains (as on vente-privée.com where wine is now a strong line), and efficient and easy delivery services. The quality of after sales service needs to be beyond reproach, as in a more classic sales channel. But clients are also looking for exclusive offers and privileges available only online, as in other business sectors, and this is what will make the difference in the coming years.
Some wine brands have already understood this new demand; the most up to date are developing specific strategies for online sales by offering online-only special deals. This is what prompted the Chablis producer, Jean-Marc Brocard, to innovate in March by creating a wine only available online and reserved exclusively for members of its club – a first in the world of wine. At the time Julien Brocard described it as: “An initiative that primarily meets a growing demand for exclusivity on the part of lovers of fine wines.” At a time when all kinds of offers are now available online and when price competition is strong, here are wine brands involved in a new type of marketing. In any case, that’s what Champagne Mumm has announced in launching its RSVP cuvee, a prestige cuvee only available to its special clients via a specific online ordering website, clients who, in turn, may co-opt friends and family. This approach works closely with websites currently in full boom such as BAO.fr (a private ‘word of mouth’ circle proposing a small ads service exclusively for its members) or Babysittor, or babysittor offering excellent babysitters, on an invitation-only basis.
Personal referrals, private clubs and privileges – this is all part of the new approach. To have in your wine cabinet bottles others can’t buy. To give a friend the chance to profit from an offer they would never have had access to had you not invited them. Chablis Brocard and Champagne Mumm caught on before the others, but it’s a safe bet that this trend will continue to grow in the world of wine, and will give us all a chance to impress…
INTERESTING READING: Guillaume Jourdan’s Point of View in CHALLENGES Magazine on Dom Perignon brand : Dom Pérignon pousse le bouchon dans le luxe
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