Building National Retail Database

Marketing services provider is building a store-by-store national database of wine and spirits consumers' retail buying patterns, aiming to give suppliers an unprecedented ability to target promotions.

Launched in summer 2000 by eight wine and spirit retailers who own about 250 stores, offers customized e-mail and direct mail database-marketing services to independent retailers in return for access to transactional data generated from the retailers' loyalty card programs. Plans also are in the works to offer participating retailers co-branded Web sites. A deal with an unnamed Web development firm is close to being signed, according to executives at, Williamsville, NY.

So-called off-premise wine and liquor sales — those outside of restaurants — are estimated at $29 billion a year in the United States. Independent retailers account for about $18 billion of that, or 62 percent, according to

Cash register scanner data are available from supermarkets and chain stores, but very little customer data are available from those sources. And virtually no data, scanner or otherwise, are available from independent retailers.

“There is no way for [suppliers] to get information about what moves from retailer to customer,” said Barry Singer,'s vice president of sales and marketing. “The e-mails that we transmit are going to customers who we know by transaction are purchasers of a wine, spirit or beer.”

Under the program, each retailer gets a weekly master list of 36 wine, spirit and beer specials chosen by suppliers (distilleries, wineries, etc.). The retailers then check off and price nine to 12 of the items they want featured in their version of's weekly special e-mail sent to their customers. sends a separate monthly e-mail on retailers' behalf as well. For the monthly program, retailers select and price 18 to 24 promotions from a master list of 72 to 100. The monthly e-mail also features articles on a winery and distiller of the retailer's choosing from a list of three each. also drops direct mail fliers on participating retailers' behalf seven times per year and supplies signage to support the various specials. is currently managing 33 versions of direct mail, and weekly and monthly e-mails. The e-mail delivery is handled inhouse.

To participate, retailers must have a loyalty card program or be willing to start one. designs and develops the e-mail and the direct mail pieces. It also picks up the postage for them.

“The benefit is the retail store no longer has to do any direct marketing to its customers,” Singer said. “We are doing the direct marketing.” charges suppliers per item promoted on a cost-per-thousand basis. so far claims to have on board 47 retail groups, which together comprise 425 stores in 23 states. aims in three years to have 1,000 stores enrolled in the program and 2.5 million to 4 million consumers in its database. also plans to package retailers' customer transactional data for sale to suppliers. The company is not selling names, however.

“We will put that information into a data warehouse and then create all kinds of reports that will tell us about sales transactions, customer transactions, etc,” said Orrin Tobbe, president/CEO, “Ultimately we will provide them with up to 40 or 50 different kinds of information.”

The company also plans to profile each retailer's best customers and get names from a data giant like Acxiom to find prospects with similar profiles within their geographic areas.

“Once we profile their best customers — the 20 percent that make up 80 percent of their sales — we will not only retain their customers, we will bring new customers like them to the table,” Tobbe said.

One thing does not engage in is e-commerce.

“We direct the customer sales order to the retail store,” Tobbe said. “If the retailer is allowed to ship, then he ships to the customer. If he's not allowed to ship, then the customer has to come into his store.”'s list is not available for rent by third parties.

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