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Online wine: retailers should ‘remove clutter’

Online wine retailers need to do more to cut through the increasing “clutter” of online wine sales and appeal to consumers, importers and suppliers have warned.

Online wine retailers must do more to attract consumers, suppliers warn (Photo: Pixabay)
Online wine retailers must do more to attract consumers, suppliers warn (Photo: Pixabay)

Currently, the online market represents 8.8% of the total off-trade wine sales, according to the Wilson Drinks Report, but has been forecast to grow. However as the growth of wine e-commerce continues to grow, importers and distributors warn that online retailers will need to do more to stand out in the market.

Andrew Bewes of Hallgarten Druitt said it was in the nature of the internet to be cluttered, and retailers had to work hard to cut through to consumers and then act as effective gatekeepers.

“The internet is a fantastic resource if you know exactly what you want to buy – so you can google [any wine you want] and find a choice of where you can buy it – but [if you don’t know what it is you want] it is like a giant Yellow Pages – where do you start?“

“It is very easy to list every wine online on a website, but it won’t help people make an educated choice,” Bewes argued. “The aspirational consumer requires a personal guide to guide them through the minefield of choice as they would a sommelier in an upmarket restaurant. Time and time again, we see consumers respond to the gatekeeper.”

As a result of the increased clutter, consumers are having to be savvier and make use of comparison sites such as wine searcher to compare prices online, according to Andrew Steel of Connoisseur Estates.

It comes after online wine sales growth slowed in the 3 months to June 2015, after following a very strong first quarter, according to a recent Wilson Drinks Report.

Volume and value sales of still wines sold through specialist wine by the case sites, independent online retailers and wine clubs fell in the 3 months to 27 June 2015, it found. However this followed a particularly strong quarter, where still wines achieved “significant” growth in the 3 months to 28 March 2015, up 8% by volume and 10% by value, largely driven by strong sales of red wine, up 9% by volume and value up 11%.

Tim Wilson, managing director of WDR, which collates online retailer ePOS data from most of the leading specialist online BWS retailers, said this was more a reflection of how the larger online retailers had performed and the the number of promotions run during the quarter than larger macro-factors.

“Eleven out of 14 retailers in our group achieved overall BWS sales growth in Q2 2015,” he noted.


To find out more about the key trends and growth opportunities within beers, wines and spirits retailing, you can purchase and download a copy of the latest WDR report here.    

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