Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Off Topic: Some Thoughts For Online Wine Merchants About Consumers

Do online wine merchants know how consumers buy wine? I'm not talking about the occasional buyer who doesn't know that Caymus Special Select is $99 everywhere and therefore hyping that you are selling Caymus Special Select for $99 instead of $119 is irrelevant. I'm talking about the person who buys wine on a monthly basis that equals a car payment or two.

Every day I receive a half dozen emails about wine deals. Many are becoming a joke. For those that wonder what matters to frequent online purchasers of wine, here goes:

[1] I'm done with Parker score v. price.

"92 rated Spanish gem for under $19." That's how the subjects fly in on email.

I don't care. If the wine was so great, why is there enough left that it's now on sale on a website? I know, there's a lot of it. That's also a problem. I can probably get it locally for the same price and not have to wait or pay shipping. Which leads me to...

[2} Shipping.

Shipping is either free or not. "Discounted" shipping is a joke. Either charge me or don't. I don't want to buy 12 bottles, I want 3 or 4, so I'm not interested in saving $5 on shipping because I buy more wine. Free shipping is attractive and can be the determinative factor in a purchase. There is a psychology of wine buyers that they will be less concerned about price in favor of free shipping.

[3] A discount is not $6.

I'm going to jump on a deal where the $33 wine is now $27? Really? No. If it's not 30% or more off, I'm not interested.

[4] If you have a website, there are certain things I'm going to look for to determine your pricing.

The first thing I want to see is if you have Caymus (and Caymus Special Select as I mentioned above). Caymus is $59 at a good discount place. Those of you selling it for $79 should apologize.

I also look for things like Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (it's $12-$15, not $19), D'Arenberg Stump Jump (not a wine I drink, but $9 at most), and Insignia ($129-$149, not $169).

[5] Stories about the winemaker and vineyard are interesting, but...

Some of them are waaaayyyy too long, and only end with the bad news that the $27 wine is now $22. Nope.

[6] You miss an opportunity every time you send wine.

I buy the wine. I open the box. What's inside? The wine, in the box. No letter of thanks? No catalog? No coupon for my next purchase? No extra bottle of something I may like? (obviously only for people who spend good money and would be a good return customer.)

What are you saying about your business if when you sell a product all the consumer gets is the product and no sense that coming back may be a good idea or that the owner values your return?

[7] Do not put me on your mailing list, unless I asked.

I ordered wine from you, not an email a day for the rest of my life. How about an email that says "thanks," and "let us know if you want to hear more great offers." Ask if you can intrude into my life, don't intrude and then tell me I can unsubscribe.

[8] Get personal, if you can.

I just bought a case of Oregon Pinot from you. What does that tell you? You don't know. You do know that the 2009 California Pinots are outstanding. Would it kill you to send a personal email suggesting a couple?

[9] We check cellartracker, for specific reasons

If no one has rated this wine, it probably sucks, unless it's brand new.

If it's rated 90 or above with 2 user ratings, I don't care.

If 14 people rated it an average of 92.5, it's probably good stuff.

And of course, we're also clicking over to to check prices.

By the way, some of this stuff applies to lawyering, but I really just wanted to talk about wine.

I'm done now.

Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark

1 comment:

Scott R. Ball said...

I was enjoying your post anyway, but the last comment really brought it home. Well done.