App Fills Gap in Convenience Stores’ Wine Knowledge | Wine Enthusiast
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App Fills Gap in Convenience Stores’ Wine Knowledge

If I were a small U.S. retailer, especially one that was new to the wine business, I’d have a case of “App Envy” for my British counterparts. I speak of WineWise, a free app designed and released by Chilean producer Concha y Toro’s UK-based unit (CyT-UK) specifically to help convenience stores sell wine.

“Convenience stores are driving the growth for wine in the UK market (total market flat, Convenience up 2.4% IRI 52w Value Sales), but there is a real education gap for how wine is sold,” Laurie Billson, senior customer marketing manager at CyT-UK, emailed.

In the UK, “the wine category is worth 5.1 billion pounds ($6.1 billion)—or over twice as much as carbonated soft drinks, but rarely gets focus from retailers. With just a few swipes, retailers can learn about wines, read case studies about stores making it work, and start turning those ideas into profit,” Billson said.

Retailers and their sales people were unsure of themselves when it came to recommending wines—especially when trying to pair it to a lovely lamb chop or maybe a simple roast chicken. “One retailer told us he was embarrassed to be asked about recommending a bottle to his shoppers as he wasn’t sure of the pronunciation of some varietals,” Billson said.

The relatively objective app (in addition to wines that CyT produces, the app also recommends wines from other, unrelated producers) was released a year ago. But development on the app, which works on both iPhone and Android, did not end there. When it was first released, retailers could use simple formulas to figure out how much of each type of wine (red, white and rosé) to stock, how to display them and how to allot both shelf space as well as room in the refrigerated units. In addition, it lets retailers print out both bottle neckers and shelf talker—two marketing items that have been shown to increase sales.

This year, CyT has added a “Profit on Return” or POR calculator. It is a tool that works out how much a retailer should charge per product to make their desired profit margin. “POR was developed in response to user feedback,” said Billson. “We don’t talk about specific prices as retailers are free to select their own but we wanted to help calculate the value that wine brings to their store. We have a 60-percent repeat visitor rate already—so POR should be handy!”

So far about 2,000 people have downloaded WineWise, and CyT listens to their customers’ feedback. “We aimed to recommend wines that retailers would be confident would sell with a proven track-record with shoppers,” she said, adding that they list the No.1 bestsellers in the UK market by varietal. “We also further recommend a more mainstream and premium alternative to allow stores to have a range that suits them.”

And while all the information is specific to the UK market, there is no apparent reason why a U.S. retailer—admittedly one who is willing to put up with those odd British spellings and silly metric measurements—couldn’t use some of the features. For instance, figuring out the right amount and types of wine for your customers, translates very nicely—so long as you think of shelf space in terms of meters instead of feet. (Google will do that calculation for you.)

Billson says the CyT is looking at other EU markets for the WineWise and “more could follow.”

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