Looking into the crystal ball of wine retail

Let’s look into the future. I don’t know how far into the future. It might be two years or maybe ten. But sooner than you think.

Amazon has entered the liquor retail game. Not in a small way either. Through their Whole Foods locations, they now permeate into many key urban areas.

And through Amazon Prime, you can see the top 300 wine brands available for sale, with free two-hour delivery.

And the consumer sees “sort by price” and finds the best prices on the biggest brands available.

Meanwhile, Total Wine sees the competition building so they redo their website and app to compete directly with Whole Foods while also pushing their “Winery Direct” brands that have more margin. They add free two-hour delivery. They add a “sort by price” button.

Then Amazon ups their game with big-name winemakers making private label wines only available through them, which intrigues many of your customers.

And while the two giants are battling, the small and fun and quirky stores are seeing sales slow down. And down. And down.

Just as with books, music, and movies, the wine world is about to change before our eyes.

It’s coming. Trust me. There’s too much money to be made for it to not happen.

And if you’re an average wine shop selling average wines to average customers, you are doomed.

What are you going to do? Customer service only goes so far.

Time to get serious about long term strategy.

Specialization.

Smaller producers.

Deeper research into your supplier’s books.

New and smaller distributors.

De-facto exclusives (a single retailer buys the state allocation).

Focus.

Storytelling.

Education.

Connection.

Events.

Curation.

Definition.

Whatever a retailer chooses to do in order to stay relevant for the next ten years, now is the time to start to do it. Everything is about to change.

“Sort by price” is coming.

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