The wine industry is steeped in tradition — and for a multitude of reasons, many insiders have resisted innovations that promise to change how we make, sell and drink wine. Still, progress won’t be denied, and technology is making waves in the wine world in some very interesting ways. Here’s a look at what’s next for the wine industry and what it means for retail establishments and consumers, too.
Mobile Customer Loyalty Programs
While many wine and liquor stores already have some type of bulk discount or club card programs in place, mobile customer loyalty programs offer a cutting-edge alternative to swipe-and-go cards, and the possibilities in regards to functionality are practically limitless. Institute a rewards program that customers can access using their smartphones or tablets, and you can create a global system that connects their “wish list,” your inventory, and all their purchases past and present. Imagine then offering customers an iPad as they enter your brick-and-mortar store, which they can use to access their account, scan the wines they want to purchase now and those they want to save for later — and all that data is collected in the cloud for everyone to access at their convenience.
These programs are still in their relative infancy, but the potential is downright exciting; loyalty members spend up to 20 percent more than non-members, and 47 percent of consumers say they spend more money with retailers that send marketing emails based on the consumer’s past shopping habits. These mobile customer loyalty programs are a way to connect and convert, while also making customers’ lives easier and more interesting.
Upgraded POS Systems
The growth of boutique wine labels and limited production offerings from larger wineries could theoretically pose serious inventory management problems for retailers that have to oversee an increasing amount of SKUs. Thankfully, point-of-sale (POS) technology is rising to the occasion with integrated tech that puts everything from ordering to daily, weekly and quarterly reconciliation in the palm of your hand. As the wine-drinking public becomes more educated regarding the wines that they’re drinking, they tend to visit brick-and-mortar stores with specific purchases in mind. Thus a POS system that’s always up to date and that accounts for both online and “real-world” sales (for those businesses that offer both) helps track inventory down to that single bottle of super low-production cab a particularly discriminating customer might be hunting.
The social aspect of wine is an important part of the entire wine-drinking experience, but it’s also helping wineries and retail establishments boost sales. There are 224 million people in the United States using apps on a monthly basis, so it only makes sense that new wine apps are available for download almost every week. Wine apps offer a wide range of functionalities that include everything from basic wine education to label scanning (perfect for building a virtual library to catalog the contents of your personal cellar) to social components that allow wine lovers to share recommendations. Add mobile-commerce plug-ins that take app users straight from a five-star review to a digital storefront, and suddenly retailers are offering a frictionless sales funnel that ditches old-school obstacles (struggling to find a particular wine online that you read about in a magazine, for example) and creates a system that benefits all involved.