The Grapevine

Data, Focus and Finance for Independent Wine Shops

October 4th, 2016

Pretty basic stuff: know what your customers want and it’s a whole lot easier selling it to them. But in our digital information age, there’s a whole lot more data to track and process and even though that can seem daunting – or pointless given the small data sets that small businesses generally have to work with – if you’re not doing it, you can be sure at least some of your competitors are. [level-members]

I can’t pretend to have a solution to the issues we face as small business people when it comes to data, but it was still instructive to read the thoughts of Paul Mabray, the consumer trends expert behind the recently shuttered Vintank in a post on The Buyer website last month.

Though he delves into areas that are really more focused on the problems that potential service providers face (and sometimes create) when working with wine producers, there are good lessons for small wine shop owners, as well.

Among those important points:

  • Stay focused
  • Make sure the numbers work

A good example that touches both those points is a decision to sell or not sell mass market wines. They’re popular, they’re cheap, they’re easy to move. But do the help you in the long run? 

If they increase your competition by eliminating any differentiation you have in the market – now you’re just like everyone else who are selling all the same stuff – then you’re going to have to sell a whole heck of a lot of that low-margin product to make the profit you need.

Perhaps you’re better off not going that route and staying on the path of carving out your own niche by selling different wines. Not better – different.

Either way, you need to stay focused on your strategy and make sure you implement it consistently. If you waver, you’ll have no identity in the market and you’ll flounder.