Wineaccess Uses Vintage DM to Drive Web Traffic to Retailers

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With an online database that stores customer information at the point of offline sales, Wineaccess.com, an online network for the wine industry, is helping local retailers market themselves via the Internet to old and new customers. Wineaccess, Narberth, PA, also serves as an online forum for wine connoisseurs, retailers and consumers alike.


The point-of-sales system saves and manages customer data obtained by wine retailers at their local establishments. Upon making a purchase, consumers provide their names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses in exchange for discounts and updates via direct mail and e-mail. Retailers store the information in their own POS servers before transferring it to Wineaccess' online database.


"Our main thrust is on helping the stores build their local businesses and their local community of users," said Dave Moore, director of retail marketing at Wineaccess. "We're also facilitating the exchange of information and developing the e-commerce solutions for wine shops."


Wineaccess custom-builds participating retailers' Web sites, Moore said. The company, which revamped its own Web site, has launched sites for 22 member stores, he said, while an additional 71, though not yet live, have signed contracts with the company. The latter companies are in the process of implementing POS servers, a procedure that takes about eight weeks.


Moore said Wineaccess provided its services for free until the end of May, when it began charging stores a setup fee of $1,500 and a monthly $250 hosting fee. The online solutions are well worth the fees to these mostly offline retailers, Moore said.


"Given the amount of competition these independent retailers face with online retailers such as wine.com and wineshopper.com, not to mention the 'real world' competitors," he said, "it becomes a huge priority for our partner stores to utilize our technology to sustain and grow their businesses."


Wineaccess provides wine retailers the technology to better serve their existing customers, Moore said. With the POS system and its storing capabilities, retailers can track their consumers' purchasing behavior. The system serves as an efficient marketing tool, he said, because it enables wine merchants to use that purchase history to target their customer base with more effective marketing campaigns.


Moore Brothers Wine Co., Pennsauken, NJ, Wineaccess' pilot partner-store, for example, has stored the names of virtually every person who has come through its doors since the business was founded in 1996, Moore said.


"Practically speaking, no one makes a purchase at Moore Brothers without leaving at least their name," he said.


And while Moore Brothers, which has nearly 20,000 customers listed in its POS system, has not generated high response rates using the system, it has proved to be quite prosperous nonetheless, Moore said. Its success is reflected in the end dollar result, he said, reporting that the wine distributor generated more than $5 million in sales last year -- equaling nearly $400 per person. The wine industry itself brings in about $17 billion a year.


With the high level of data being exchanged, however, the number of customers that have raised privacy concerns has been relatively low, Moore said. Moore Brothers has had only one customer who refused to supply his name for its POS system, said Greg Moore, Dave Moore's brother and owner of Moore Brothers Wine.


"So long as the customer feels [he or she] is getting something of value," Dave Moore said, "the customer generally is willing to give that piece of information."


Moore Brothers Wine, for instance, offers discounts and self-produced magazines, among other promotions, via two postcard mailings and six mass e-mailings over the course of a year, Greg Moore said. Wineaccess helps participating retailers shape their marketing campaigns by using the POS database to, among other things, drive customers to its Web site.


Once online, customers become a part of an online community of wine lovers, in addition to receiving more discounts, Dave Moore said. Wine shoppers can communicate with retailers and wine experts by posting questions or comments on a message board. They can also create their own Web page that will keep track of their wine portfolio. And, Dave Moore said, customers have online access to a database of more than 250,000 wines.


"Customers like the mechanics of Wineaccess because it tries to replicate the experience a customer has in a store," Greg Moore said.


Wineaccess, which expects to receive $25 million in investment capital during the next quarter, plans to develop its Web site further, Dave Moore said. After launching Web sites for the 71 companies that recently signed contracts, the company will add features that will enable wineries and wine connoisseurs to sell their publications online. The publications, he said, will be tied to the POS database.


Wineaccess also plans to open the Web site to other key players in the wine industry, to begin "bringing the larger wine community into the mix," Dave Moore said. Consequently, wine manufacturers will be able to target-market the stores that carry their wines. "It's all about using [Wineaccess'] tools to direct market," he said.
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