Online-only wine retailer Rewined predicts that the New Zealand online wine market will account for 15% of total retail sales completed online by 2018, based on the rise in the industry sector in the past two years and international trends.
The NZ Retailers Association in 2013 reported total alcohol sales currently only at 4% of the domestic online retail market.
The report however notes key drivers to growth in the online retail space including greater variety, better pricing, the increase in mobile technology and the prevalence of social media to drive brand and product awareness.
“Online wine sales are set to see massive compound growth as wine drinkers become more informed," says Shannon Lawrence, Operations Manager, Rewined.
"We’re seeing more people seeking out international producers, limited releases and unusual varietals that aren’t available in supermarkets or large wine stores.
"The obvious place to look for them is online. Given the fierce competition and without the costs of maintaining a physical retail store, online retailers are in the most favourable position.”
One of the biggest challenges to selling products online is giving customers the ability to experience the product before making a purchase.
“This is a challenge wine retailers have always faced,” Lawrence says. “We have never been able to open every bottle for every customer to sample before they buy.
"That customers are already comfortable buying wines based on other factors almost works to our advantage online.”
Rewined points out five factors leading customers to make an online purchase decision:
1) High resolution product imagery
2) Detailed product descriptions
3) Recommendations from other customers
4) Informative reviews
5) Social media interaction
Lawrence suggests it’s not enough just to offer customers the best prices bottle of wine.
“Reading blogs and seeking connection on social media are how we now play, live and shop these days and wine retailers need embrace this and consistently engage with buyers," Lawrence adds.
"For example, we noticed a rise in Facebook likes for a post on the beginning of harvest. In response, we’re writing a blog series on what harvest is all about, to help readers make not only informed purchases but easy ones they can feel confident are the best for them.”