People 'n' Issues

Wine must go digital

December 15th, 2017
Cape Classics wine importer believes that the wine industry should embrace the chaos brought by the mobile phone-fueled digital age and move away from traditional retail models.
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Embrace the chaos brought by the mobile phone-fueled digital age. That was the message from New York wine importer Cape Classics at a gathering of the South African wine industry hosted at Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch.

Cape Classics President & COO Rob Bradshaw, speaking to some of South Africa’s leading wine producers at the 15th annual “state of the industry” address, said this new digital fueled economy is disrupting traditional retail models in the USA.

“It is the changing face of retail; using an App on my phone to have goods delivered to my home. People are not going anywhere anymore, they are having everything brought to them – UBER EATS brings you your dinner and DRIZLY brings the wine,” says Bradshaw.

The use of digital platforms like UBER EATS, Blue Apron, Amazon Prime Fresh and DRIZLY are putting independent wine shops under threat and many restaurants are going out of business or turning into commercial kitchens which make food for delivery only.

“The restaurant industry is heading for mass closures – studies show the US has 40-50% too many restaurants. This is a risk to us, because restaurants traditionally do lots of wine business,” says Bradshaw. “Independent wine stores which were more likely to stock our wines are also in trouble. The landscape is changing. Wine is being sold direct to the consumer via a screen, no longer being hand sold.”

The scenario is chaotic, but represents a huge opportunity for South African wine, as it gets the decision blockers out of the way. “The barriers between you and the end consumer are disappearing,” says Bradshaw.

Which is why Cape Classics is investing significant marketing money into digital retail platforms. “We have to be there. To ensure the brands we represent in the US are ahead of the curve,” he says.

So it is critically important that SA wine producers are alive on their digital platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or their own App. “This is how to make noise and remember this new digital age is all about hieroglyphics, not words. So get onto Instagram as you South African winemakers live in Photographic Utopia,” says Bradshaw.

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