The Grapevine

Competing Against Online Wine Shops and Wine Clubs

January 14th, 2015

If it’s not Amazon, it’s some new online startup that’s trying to steal your wine shop bacon. Here’s a look at what’s out there and ways to fight back. [level-members]

From Tasting Room by Lot18 to ClubW to the New York Times Wine Club, there are a nearly endless parade of online/mail order wine clubs angling for your hard-won customers. The formula for many of these is low-risk, low-hassle, “set it and forget it” convenience.

You can protect yourself from some of these attacks by offering similar convenience – layered on top of much more personalized service.

For example, you absolutely should be offering a monthly wine club. And it should include a much broader range of offerings than the online retailers can manage. Have whites-only and reds-only offers, pizza wines, party wines, whatever reasonable them you can think of, and of course, a range of pricing.

But don’t forget your best customers. They may be a bit more sophisticated in their tastes and set in their ways, so less interested in a “generic” mixed case each month. Offer to customize a case for them each month, tailored to what you know they like and geared toward helping them find new favorites.

In the end, the key to beating back competitors like this is to beat them at their own game. Maybe that includes the super convenience of home delivery, but it most certainly includes doing what the mail order folks do in a more personalized way.