English wine producers ‘need to make more of e-commerce’

Elisabeth Else, founder of Wine Cellar Door and e-commerce consultancy The 3 Bottles, says English wine producers should view e-commerce as a money-making tool and “not a necessary evil they need to pay for”.

Else’s Wine Cellar Door site has launched a new online shop featuring a selection of producers.

Speaking to the drinks business, Else said that while some producers were clued up and had invested in online shops well before Covid-19, for others it is still an after-thought.

“People pay so much for a fancy architect and an amazing looking cellar door, and spend a fortune on labels and packaging. We’ve got producers who are making a lot of money from their online shop, but most people seem to seem to think it’s a sort of necessary evil that they need to pay for, not a tool to make money. For us, it’s most definitely a tool to make money,” she said.

The 3 Bottles helps producers construct bespoke online shops, which can be scaled up according to demand. Most producers then manage it themselves, but return to Else “every six months or so for a service” when a larger project needs to be uploaded onto the site.

Else believes that as the English wine industry, and therefore competition, grows, e-commerce should be taken more seriously. In addition, she feels English wineries should follow the example of their American counterparts, and invest time in building mailing lists and launching wine clubs.

Many of the larger wineries, for example Gusbourne and Ridgeview, already have such schemes, but Else says more need to follow their example.

She said: “I’ve attended the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium for a couple of years and went round wineries in Sonoma afterwards.

“They simply cannot grasp the fact that we don’t have wine clubs here. They told me ‘we know we could not make a profit if we didn’t have wine clubs’.”

She added that wineries must step-up their on-going engagement to create comprehensive mailing lists that could aid them in a time of crisis, like we are experiencing currently.

Elisabeth Else

“I made a big effort to go around the wineries in California that were particularly badly affected by the fires and understand how they were rebuilding,” she said. “They were in a situation where they were re-opening and had to get the message out. By having a mailing list, you have people that care about you, and by having a wine club, you can have the planned revenue still coming in.”

Else is also the founder of searchable wine tourism website Wine Cellar Door. The site allows users to see vineyards in the UK on a map, and search according to criteria including ‘vineyards that do weddings’ or ‘vineyards where you can help with harvest’.

She has just launched an online shop function, which she described as a natural progression for the website.

Else doesn’t hold stock, and instead all transactions are made on individual producer websites. Each of Wine Cellar Door’s premium listings has been offered the opportunity to provide a mixed case for sale via the shop.

“Before, if people had a great experience at their local vineyard, they’d be more likely to buy the wines there or buy them afterwards. We’re looking at it the other way round and offering the opportunity to try a selection of wines from a producer, and think about visiting them afterwards,” she said.

“By driving traffic back to the producer’s own website, this service will help our premium listing members to continue to reach out to new consumers while ensuring that they retain 100% of the sale price.”

One Response to “English wine producers ‘need to make more of e-commerce’”

  1. Hear hear! – well said Else.
    There’s no doubt that an integrated Tourism, Cellar Door sales, Wine Club and E-Commerce strategy is crucial to the future success of English Wine Producers.
    It is not easy, but we need to build the skills.

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