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Ronald Scharman

“Discounts are important in e-commerce, but not essential”

September 4, 2012 by Laura Saieg | in News

Ronald Scharman is president of eWinery Solutions, Napa Valley’s leading direct-to-consumer provider of e-commerce platforms and CRM software. In this article, he talks about the reality of US direct sales and what a wine should offer to be in this market.

“Times of changes” is the title of the next Foro Internacional Vitivinícola (International Wine Forum) to be held in Mendoza, Argentina, on September 18 and 19. Ronald Scharman, president of eWinery Solutions, will be one of the speakers via videoconference, and his presentation will be included in the “New Ways of Modern Marketing” panel. In this interview, he gives some keys of US e-commerce and talks about the distribution in this market.

How has been the growth of online wine sales?

Very significant. Historically, online wine sales have lagged behind overall total online consumer products sales because of compliance issues related to shipping wine to consumers in various States. Because most states have now passed laws to allow for interstate shipment of wine, online wine sales have grown significantly. Also, consumers are now more comfortable buying wine on line and having it shipped to their homes or offices.

Why do consumers prefer to buy wines online?

Because of convenience, selection, and price.  Due to the way wine is distributed in the United States, not all wines are available in all states, cities, towns.  Many small boutique producers only sell directly to consumers and restaurants. Moreover, consumers are interested in exploring new wines and varietals, and buying online from wineries, directly from importers, and from retailers in other parts of the country allows them to try wines they have never tried, or wines they like, at better prices.

Is the distribution a problem in the United States?

Yes, wholesale distribution is very difficult these days in the United States. There has been a very significant consolidation in the industry over the past 10 years resulting in many fewer distributors and many more wines. For wineries now entering the U.S. market, it is a challenge to find distribution and then it only allows for a few wines to gain access, not all the wines that a winery produces.

Are discounts essential in the e-commerce?

Important, but not necessarily essential. It depends on the quality of the wine, the competition for comparable wines at comparable prices, and the story behind the winery and the wines. Many wineries in the U.S. sell their wine online without discounting because they try not to compete with bricks and mortar retailers that also may carry their wines.

What are the best-selling wines online?

Wines that consumers cannot find in a local wine shop, supermarket or big box retailer.

What are the services you provide?

We provide software-as-a-service for wineries and internet wine retailers that need a fully integrated sales and marketing platform for selling wine online. This includes ecommerce, wine club, wine allocations, CRM, promotional marketing tools, integration with point of sale systems, etc.

How many clients do you have?

We have approximately 450 clients.

Do you offer wines from all over the world?

Our clients include many international wineries in Australia, Europe and South America, as well as importer that carry wines from around the world – all selling their wine online using our software platform.

Do you have clients in Argentina?

Yes, we have clients in Argentina using our system to sell wine directly to consumers in the U.S.

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