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10 Things Retailers Should Consider When Buying Wholesale Wine

Dec 3, 2018 12:26:00 PM / by Matthew Schrier


Here's a mind-blowing statistic: the average supermarket carries 5 products per category, except in the wine category, where supermarkets carry roughly 900 different products. Let that sink in for a moment; a consumer who wants to purchase eggs has five options, but a consumer wanting to purchase wine must choose from nearly one thousand different options.

 "...Research now shows that there can be too much choice; when there is, consumers are less likely to buy anything at all, and if they do buy, they are less satisfied with their selection."
Barry Schwartz, Harvard Business Review 

Since delighting customers should be the number one goal of every retailer, it may be time to re-evaluate your wine section. Here are the 10 things retailers should keep in mind when buying wholesale wine.

1) Deepen rather than diversify inventory

Identify which wines sell best and buy more of them. Customers want to walk away happy with their purchase, so offer them less choices in each price point/category, and carry more of the best selling wines. Customers will have a better experience in your store and be more pleased with their experience.

2) Look for products that fall in your price 'hot spots'

If you have a price range or 'hot spot' that sells best with your customers, then most of the wines you offer should fall within that range. For example, many retailers report their hot spot for wine is $9.99 per bottle. Look at your own data and find your hot spot.

3) Carry wines that earn the margins you deserve

When considering bringing in (or dropping) a wine, you need to factor in two different prices; the price you'll pay and the price your customers will pay. With all the available wines in today's market, you should be aiming to make >30% margins while still retailing at your price 'hot spots'. Having difficulty getting >30% margins on the wines from your distributors books? Consider using the Winery-Direct Model to purchase wines instead.

4) Limit customer price comparisons

Keep price comparison in mind. Think of your favorite wine; you probably know the ballpark price for how much it costs. If you went to a store and they were retailing it for $7 more per bottle than you know it sells for at other retailers, you might not buy it! Customers know the ballpark prices for all the major wine brands. However, what they don't know is how much a bottle of your *new, perfectly priced, brand exclusive wine* costs! Consider bringing on private label or brand exclusive wines. These products allow you to set 'blind' pricing; i.e. prices consumers can't compare at other locations.

whole fodos three wishes wines 2.jpgThree Wishes wine sold exclusively at Whole Foods Markets. Photo curtesy of Whole Foods

5) Bring in wines with clearly visible varietals

An often overlooked factor is varietal placement on the label. Many wine labels allow their brand name to take complete priority over the actual wine they're selling. Consumers shouldn't have to painstakingly search a label just to find the varietal. This is why top-selling wines list the varietal in large, clear print that's immediately identifiable.

6) Make sure labels are eye-catching

In a sea of labels, a product must stand out on the shelf. According to CF Napa, 80% of a wine purchase is done with the eyes. Sad, but true. You could have to best-tasting wine in the world, and if the packaging doesn't stand out, consumers aren't going to buy it. Bring in wines that have eye-catching labels.


Before and After: Making wine labels more eye-catching. Photos curtesy of CF Napa

7) Design should appeal to your customers' demographics

Knowing the demographic of your customers is key. A boutique wine shop in San Francisco will attract different customers than a grocery store in Illinois - and they'll be drawn to different kinds of packaging. If your customer base is millennial, chose wines with bright, modern design. If you work in a town of outdoorsy people, carry wines with outdoorsy labels! Playing up your customers' interests is essential to generating more sales.

8) Taste as your customer would

When assessing a wine, keep your customers in mind. You may hate sweet Moscatos, but if that's what your customers love, then taste Moscatos using your customers' palates! Understand what your customers prefer in terms of body, sweetness, acidity, etc., then sample wines with those ideas in mind.

9) Keep an eye out for flaws

Make sure that there are no obvious flaws in the wine. An (unintentional) funky smell, an off-putting color, or a damaged label are all factors that will turn off customers. Always make sure that a wine is representing itself how it was intended to be.

10) Promote for your customers, not your distributors

Above all else, consumers want ease and simplicity. They want to walk into to a store and instantly find the wine they're looking for, help them by promoting their favorite wines. Reserve eye-level shelf space, displays, and the cold box for products that sell best - rather than the products your distributors want to push. Simplify the experience for your customers and they'll be sure to return.

If any of these ideas resonated with you, we've created a helpful checklist to help organize your thoughts when buying wholesale wine in the future. You can download the Successful Wine Checklist here (it's free and always will be) or by clicking the button below! 

Download Successful Wine Checklist


Topics: Wine Wholesale Retailer Consumer Trends

Written by Matthew Schrier

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