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A common problem for wine estates SOLVED

July 14, 2015 - From the MD's desk - , , , , , , ,

Wine estates use gourmet dinners as an exclusive and influential marketing exercise. Typically, a gourmet dinner is put on by a wine estate and is hosted by an upmarket restaurant and will include a set menu designed and paired with the wines of the estate. The wines and the estate will be presented by either the estate owner, the wine maker, the marketing manager or a sales representative.

The goals of such a dinner are three fold:

Firstly, its a great way for the estate to build a relationship with the restaurant. The restaurant is typically serviced by a distributor so the relationship is essentially once removed. Hosting a gourmet dinner supports the restaurant by selling seats and exposure and is a great way to get your wines on the wine list and to keep them there!

Secondly, its a way for the farm to engage with their existing consumers, to teach them more about the brand, to let them taste the current vintage and to build a relationship that promises loyalty and sales in the future.

Thirdly, importantly, it is a sales drive. The estate will likely pair their flagship wines to the gourmet meal in the hope that the experience will prompt guests to buy those flagships there and then on the night. This obviously works and these events are tried and tested way of selling high price items. However, this is where just about every farm we’ve ever dealt with runs into the same problem…how to process orders on the night?

Restaurants typically have a liquor license for on-consumption sales only so to sell for off-consumption requires a separate sales channel and farms have tended to either A) process the sales themselves the next day or B) forward the sales on to a third sales agent, normally a retail liquor outlet in the area. Either way, the farm representative on the night manually captures the orders, contact details and the credit card details of the customer (think old school carbon paper card machine!). The next morning the farm or liquor outlet will phone the customer to confirm the order and the credit card details in order to process the transaction.

Good in theory, terrible in practice, because the consumer had probably enjoyed 4 glasses of your finest wine last night, in the presence of his beautiful wife or girlfriend, and in that fine wine glow and in an effort to impress probably placed a generous order. The next morning when he gets the call in his office, sporting a minor babalaas, he is within his rights and quite likely to rethink his order. So, while farms go to great expense and effort to put on great gourmet dinners to sell their flagship wines they tend to suffer the frustration of a lot of ‘slippage’ as people renege on their orders.

We have created a simple solution to this problem by developing a mobile application specifically designed for wine estate gourmet dinners that simply captures orders, delivery details, credit card information and, critically, the customer signature so that the next morning call is rendered unnecessary. The farm can take an iPad to the dinner and pass it around, or ask guests to simply download the app on to their own devices and guests can place orders that are captured once and for all in a matter of moments. The customer will immediately receive an email confirming his order and the charge. the farm or sales processor will receive a similar notification and can start packing the order with confidence that the customer wont (cant) back out.

The guest experience is enhanced because the app is undoubtedly a more premium interface than the old carbon paper slider! The farm DEFINITELY makes better sales at their gourmet dinners and there is the really big bonus that if the customer downloads the app to their own device there is potential for repeat orders at any time.

Rick and I both have backgrounds in wine sales and this is a problem we know all to well. This is exactly why we had such clear sight of an elegant solution. I have no doubt that almost every wine estate in South Africa at least (those doing gourmet dinners and event anyway) will benefit from this cost effective tool that practically guarantees a favorable return on investment for the farm.