MULTICHANNEL MARKETING: Wine Enthusiast hooks up

Channel integration boosts cataloger’s sales 30%

The Wine Enthusiast had good reason to uncork a few bottles at the end of last year: Overall sales for the wine products cataloger rose 30% in 1999, to more than $50 million. Hank Rosen, senior vice president of operations, credits the growth in part to the company’s integration of its merchandising, order-entry, and fulfillment of its print and online catalogs.

In late 1998, Wine Enthusiast spent roughly $100,000 to buy and implement Delray Beach, FL-based Smith-Gardner’s WebOrder software. The cataloger used the software to organize and format the images of its 2,000 SKUs for the site. Now because the Website and the print catalogs draw their creative from a shared library, changes made to a product description in one channel are automatically carried through to the other, resulting in greater consistency. As Rosen notes, “We’ve made it easy for the company to change prices consistently through all our channels.”

>From a marketing standpoint, the Hawthorne, NY-based cataloger is now able >to manage its 800,000-name database as a single entity, regardless of >whether the customers originated as catalog shoppers or Web buyers. With >all buying history contained in one file, “this will give us a tremendous >ability to market across either marketing channel in the near future,” >Rosen says.

Customer friendly

Once the software was installed, Wine Enthusiast redesigned its Website to add a number of customer service features. “We wanted customers to be able to do everything they could by themselves online just as if they were on the phone with one of our order-takers,” Rosen says.

Now customers can not only check online whether merchandise is in stock, but if a product is out of stock, the site will let them know when the item will be available. Customers can also review their complete ordering history. And according to Sharon Gardner, Smith-Gardner’s vice president of marketing, the revamped site gives Wine Enthusiast the ability to cross-sell or upsell dynamically, based on individuals’ past purchases through either the Website or the print catalog.

Rosen estimates that in the year since the site was refurbished, the percentage of Web-generated sales jumped from 15% to 30%. But Wine Enthusiast isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s expanding its wholesale business to a separate site.

“We don’t want our consumer customers going there,” Rosen says, “so we’ll have a separate, password-driven site for business customers with special multitiered pricing.” The site will have a separate Web address, but there will be “some shared linkage to the consumer site,” he says, with the site feeding orders to the same back end.

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