With Ebay having joined Amazon earlier this year as another big retailer entering the wine retail market, things are already changing and are likely to continue changing as the local/online equation works itself out. [level-members]
What does this mean for you and your local shop? A couple of things.
Online: Go Big or Stay Home
If you had thoughts of “dabbling” in online retail, forget it. Without a significant investment in technology, expertise, and inventory, it is probably an even worse bet than it was just a few years ago. The competition is deeper and their advantages over mom and pop shops is larger.
Or, Don’t Go It Alone
Ebay’s entrance means you have another avenue to explore building an online shop and have at least some of the finding-your-market puzzle solved for you. Ebay has a built-in audience. This isn’t without risks, though. A quick Google search of vendor complaints – for Ebay and Amazon broadly, not just in wine – makes it clear that when in doubt, they’ll side with the consumer.
You can’t win taking them on head-to-head, so change the rules by playing a different game. As we’ve talked about many times, the personal touch is something chains and national retailers have a tremendously difficult time doing well. Combine that with a strong “editorial voice” and you have a recipe for success.
That strong editorial voice means staking out a point of view on what constitutes a good wine and a good wine value. As much as great price and infinite selection, consumers want help navigating the overwhelming choices they face. And the choices are overwhelming at every price point except for the very high end. So, whether they’re buying a $10, $20, or $40 bottle that’s new to them, they want someone to help them find the “best” bottle. What’s unsaid in the definition of “best bottle” is that it’s really the “best bottle for me.” Your personal touch can better help them find that bottle.
Whichever path you take, you can succeed so long as you are committed to the kind of business you are building and are realistic in your expectations for that business.