Business Brains

How winery Domain Chandon got smarter about customer habits

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Ecommerce software from eWinery Solutions has helped the winery better focus its marketing and customer outreach.

The wine business is one of the most fragmented industries in the world. Certainly, there are the mega bottlers and vineyards, like E&G Gallo, which sells more than 75 million cases annually. Some people figure that the top 30 companies in the industry account for 90 percent of the sales.

But far more wine makers and labels are more like Domain Chandon, the Yountville, Calif., company that was the first French-owned wine venture in the United States when it opened its doors in 1973. These companies have a far more intimate relationship with the customers that visit their tasting rooms, but few of them have been able to market effectively to those wine-drinkers when they walk out the door.

That's because the U.S. distribution model for adult beverages has traditionally made it tough for companies like Domain Chandon to turn information gathered in tasting rooms into meaningful business intelligence. But a cloud-delivered business intelligence application from eWinery Solutions has helped Domain Chandon and other estates better target  wine club marketing activities.

"It is astonishing that I can get this level of power at my fingertips," said Matt Wood, estate manager for Domaine Chandon in Yountville. "It can really help drive the business forward."

eWinery Solutions software is delivered as a service that allows wineries to get a better handle on sales, distribution, inventory and wine club buying trends. The eWinery Solutions platform uses Information Builders business intelligence software as its foundation.

Most wineries aren't big enough to make the sort of investment needed to cross-market and sell to the wine drinkers visiting their tasting rooms, but eWinery helps them tap into data and trends aggregated from across their own business as well as other wineries.

Ron Scharman, COO of eWinery Solutions, said there are currently 400-plus wineries using the software as a fully integrated sales and marketing platform related to consumer-direct activities. As you might expect, the company has been building mobile support into the software, so that information can be gathered better at the point of tasting.

"We are the single point of contact for these wineries," Scharman said. "We help aggregate all customer data from all channels related to the consumer: telemarketing, tasting room, the mobile channel."

Wood, who previously worked for a mammoth winery, said the sorts of data analytics offered by the software would in the past have required an investment of a half-million dollars. He won't provide an exact amount, but eWinery costs Domain Chandon less than $10,000 annually.

"It won't give me new customers but it will give me better insights into the current ones," Wood said. "It will show me where there are more opportunities to sell more wine, or even just to keep them in the wine club. ... It will also help me understand whether I should pick up the phone or send an email."

eWinery Solutions is specific to wine sellers, of course, but it isn't hard to imagine how this model for cloud-driven business intelligence might be applied in other highly fragmented industries.

(Images courtesy of Domain Chandon)

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure