“Not for the faint of heart,” say the Byrne brothers – it’s about their Flavabom Shiraz Vine Dried. And with this blockbuster, created by the Appassimento process, the original Australian winemakers really do not promote Beaujolais drinkers. On the contrary, here comes a massive Aussie powerhouse in the glass, in which the somewhat come in the days term ‘A mouth full of wine’ hits the nail on the head, so the aromas fullness floods the palate, while the flow of drinking mountain torrent takes pace . “
Well, is your mouth watering? This is just a small taste of the product descriptions Wine in Black uses to educate its customers. The online wine shop Wine in Black does just that much different than other wine merchants. We asked Christian Fricke, CEO at Wine in Black, for his secret recipes for a successful online shop.
LEAD: How do you try to differentiate yourself from the standard wine merchant?
Christian Fricke: Seven years ago, Wine in Black started on an “invitation only” basis. One and a half years ago, the founders decided to open the shop for everyone. The core offer has remained the same: we have daily promotions. 60 to 70% of our wines are not permanently available. This clearly differentiates us from full-range providers. So we do not offer all wines, but only selected wines, which we consider to be good. We try to filter out the very special wines. But that alone is not enough. We also tell our customers why the wine is special. That’s exactly what Amazon does not do, for example.
LEAD: What do your customers look like?
Fricke: Our customers want to try new products. We address the explorers, people who love wine and are always on the lookout for new pearls. For that they are also willing to spend money. One could say: We serve more weekly market customers than the discounters.
LEAD: If you make a new wine offer every day – how do you handle that logistically?
Fricke: We do not have 6,000 to 7,000 wines on offer like a full-range producer, but only about 250 wines. Full-range producers buy only a few bottles per wine. We promote a wine every day. Therefore, we buy good wine by the pallet and can thus generate a great price advantage in purchasing. In addition, we save shipping costs in this way because we simply have fewer, but larger deliveries. We can pass on this price advantage to our customers so that we can offer high quality wines at an interesting price.
LEAD: How long are you planning your wine offers in advance?
Fricke: We buy our wines almost every day. In our pipeline we stand by when we want to sell some wine. For example, if we present a Chardonnay on July 20, we probably have it in stock from the 10th of July. Only in summer it is a bit different. Everything we sell in the summer we already have in stock in May / June. In the summer you can hardly buy wine in Italy and France because the whole country is on vacation. In the summer, the lead times are a bit longer.
LEAD:How did you manage to make money from wine trading in e-commerce?
Fricke: I believe that digital start-ups today can hardly do without capital or external financing. Because the start-up costs in e-commerce are very high. You can not handle that alone. As a start-up you have to be known. In essence, you have high marketing costs at the beginning and therefore need a good marketing investment. At Wine in Black, the marketing budget is well over 20 percent of the total cost.
LEAD: Which marketing measures are you using?
Fricke: For e-commerce stores Google Adwords, Retargeting and Social Media are relevant. Here dealers achieve the noise floor, which is necessary for survival of any online shop. Facebook and Instagram give us the opportunity to present ourselves as a brand. In addition, e-mail marketing plays a major role for us. Right from the start, we designed and lovingly created newsletters with great attention to detail with regard to pictures and wine texts. This enables us to achieve extremely high customer loyalty. For new customer acquisition, we rely on social media and referral marketing.
LEAD: Which channels are the best in your opinion?
Fricke: It’s hard to identify the one channel as a non-plus ultra. We look at the Customer Acquisition Cost across each channel. But here every shop has to find its own attribution model. Just one example: Suppose I drive a social media campaign. Maybe a user sees this campaign and later searches on Google for Wine in Black. There will then be played Google AdWords. The customer clicks and converts. Has the social media ad brought the customer or Google Ad? It is always the question of how the individual channels play together. There is no right or wrong here. Every company has to find out for itself which channels it wants to promote and what the connections are. With the help of artificial intelligence, attribution is currently a huge thing in online marketing.
LEAD: And what about customer loyalty? Closely? Relaxed? So-so?
Fricke: We operate in a high-priced market. Customer loyalty is very important here. We look at the Net Promoter Score daily and measure our customer satisfaction. And we rely on “customers advertise customer promotions”. This is an extremely important channel for us. That works just because wine is a product that is fun and sociable. Customers who count as wine connoisseurs in their circle of friends are therefore particularly important to us. Because they can influence your friends and win new customers for us. This works especially in connoisseurs circles.
LEAD: Does influencer marketing matter to you?
Fricke: Right now we are testing the possibilities offered by Influencer Marketing. We have different influencers and we try to adapt them to our target groups. This is not always easy, because many influencers have high wastage. We are therefore more likely to Microinfluencer, because we want to achieve a high range in the individual segments. An Instagrammer with 250,000 followers therefore works more for the mass market and less for us, because we are a high-priced and specialized brand.
LEAD: Thanks for these exciting insights and cheers!
Strong marketing for strong brands
Digitalization should bring growth, but not just for the big players. The middle class also uses this opportunity for itself. Only how, is the question. For example, how does Sport Schuster act in terms of marketing? The LEAD Bookazine 3/2018 shows how small and medium-sized businesses shape marketing in the digital age. Customer needs and own values - that’s why it should work.