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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris

Online sales as a game changer in the world of wine

16.06.2021, b2b Author: Oleksandra Hryhorieva

The ecosystem of innovative Made in France start-ups provides some answers to the pandemic impact, major consumer behavior changes and the future trends to stay. 

Drinks+ joined the online session “An overview of solutions for improving online sales presented by Vinocamp & La Wine Tech” at the Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris on June 15. Three perspectives were presented by three French companies operating in the wine sector.

The Covid pandemic gave a huge boost to the development of e-commerce. Online sales increased from 32% in 2019 to 47% in 2020.

Erwann De Barry, founder of TWIL marketplace which means “the wine I love”, talked about changes the market faced from both the customers’ and producers’ sides.

Erwan De Barry

“The major change caused by the pandemic was mostly on the wine growers’ part. Online sales seemed the last thing you spend time on because there are prior tasks such as managing plantation, making good wines, importing them”, emphasizes Erwann.

However, there were no other alternative with the Covid, but to move on digital. Firstly, it helped to collect the feedback from the wine producers’ clients. Secondly, it provided plenty of digital tools and data the wine growers could use. Finally, it introduced a new logistic system to them. The wine growers have realized going digital required lots of work both to get recognition and to be able to sale online. So, the shift in the way of thinking has happened.

Reflecting on the future impact, customers and wine makers will definitely keep the best from this transformation. Customers, who have ordered wine online, received their delivery in a short period of time, and were fully informed about the products, will keep this tendency to buy online. The satisfaction with their online experience is the decisive here.

This aspect concerns the producers as well. Those, who have worked with good digital partners, will not avoid this channel in the future.

When it comes to the price policy, to settle a good one is a key for combining digital and traditional wine sales in the future. In the wine industry, the price used to differ from one customer to another. With the spread of the Internet, the online transparency created lots of problems for wine makers. Therefore, providing your partners with an organized and mutually beneficial price policy is important.

Lionel Cuenca, cofounder of iDealwine, shared his perspective on good practices for securing a good position in the full-fledged distribution channel. The company started as a small startup in 2001 in France and became a “dinosaur” with the 20-year experience in the world of wine.

Lionel Cuenca

There are two main business activities of iDealwine, namely online auctions and fixed-price sales. The company is one of the world leaders in auction which brought around 26 million euro to its revenue last year. The auction reaches 60 countries, 50% of business outside of France.

“We experienced different challenges for 20 years but nothing in comparison to the last year. The beginning of March was extremely hard – on March 17, we sold just for 110 euro. Luckily, it was just for a day, then things got better”, shares Lionel.

The company faced the same challenges as others, in particular, with the logistics when its French partner Colissimo decided to stop delivering parcels. But the adaptation period helped to set and manage the process from a new page.

Lionel believes people will keep buying online: “Consumers’ habits have changed for a year. The main reason behind the increase in our sales is new members. We doubled the number of our clients in 2020 compared to 2019. These new clients increased our orders for 45%.”

The second reasons why things will not come back to the initial state is a generational phenomenon. Young generations are tech savvy, they naturally buy online. So, strong online presence of the wine sector will go along with traditional channels.

Considering the wave of newcomers in the online wine sector, Lionel suggests wine growers to select their team members carefully and specify their target audience. People who love and value wines of a specific producer are the best ambassadors of them.

Thomas Dayras, from a tech company “Matcha Wine” launched in 2018, shared the company experience of online sales during the pandemic. Matcha is a blend of sommeliers and developers with a focus on wine, beer, and spirits. The company developed the sales boost solution for retailers, bottlers, and other parties in this industry.

Thomas Dayras

From the perspective of a non-selling wine platform, there are three points to emphasize regarding the major changes brought by the pandemic. Firstly, there is a great demand for advice and guidance with consumers online.

“From the beginning of the first lockdown, the traffic of our website doubled in two days. The usage of the solution we provide, especially the virtual assistant, has been multiplied by three. The conversion and engagement rates stayed very high”, says Thomas.

Secondly, there is a need for vaster product content and information when the customer goes online – product data demand. There are such things to keep in mind as uploading attractive product pictures, gathering consumers’ feedback, working with the NFC tag to provide all the necessary information, and so on.

Lastly, there are lots of newcomers planning to launch their online projects. They use a long tail of SEO (less searched key words) to make their business stands out of competition.

Traditional wine growers might find it hard to adapt to new digital circumstances. There is a possibility to rely on already existing online platforms such as TWIL, winetech, iDealwine. Besides, online retailers also have their customers community and know how to manage wine logistics.