Merchants, Retail and Importers

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Ecommerce Guide

Practical advice for fine wine businesses

Whether starting an Ecommerce fine wine business, or refining the online solution you currently have, it can be an exciting and profitable venture. With the right strategy, execution and software partner, it can help you reach a wider audience, increase sales, and build brand loyalty.

As well as opening the door to new business, your existing customers will migrate online. It might feel counterintuitive to fine wine businesses wedded to the principle of account management and ‘white glove’ service, but some of your traditional relationships will ‘jump channels’ to explore, or to buy opportunistically, none more so than where there’s an online deal!

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to get started with Ecommerce for your fine wine business in a cost-efficient manner, with specialist attention to setting up multi-sales channels and accurate, rich product from the operational side.

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The 7 key challenges:


Stock Management

  • Sell more wine by knowing what stock you have
  • Ensure customers have accurate inventory visibility

Omnichannel Selling

  • Manage all your sales channels from one centralised place
  • Ensure your stock position is up-to-date everywhere

Rich Content & Product

  • Enrich user experience
  • Encourage robust sales with extensive product choices and feature-rich supporting materials

Automation & Scalability

  • Follow market demand with ease
  • Ensure customer expectations are managed with available product and delivery information

Customer Experience

  • Confidently engage clients with the right product
  • Build trust by offering a personalised experience

Guidance & Support

  • Select a partner with superior fine wine industry knowledge and a reputation for excellent customer service


Stock Management

How many times have you heard people complain about seeing a wine listed online only to find when they click through, that it’s sold out?

It’s the most intensely annoying customer experience there is, simply due to poor data control and connectivity. The cost of that user experience is hard to quantify in terms of lifetime value of a potential, lost, customer; but it could be costing double digit growth and it’s easy to see the upside of getting it right.

Your business management system is responsible for stock management, shipping and movements, purchasing and generation of sales orders.
The same system should also master your inventory irrespective of its type (e.g. physical stock, en primeur, due stock and future arrivals on purchase orders, along with brokered/ consigned wines and stock lists (what we call virtual stock) offered by wholesalers or importers.

So it follows that mastering inventory on your business system will guarantee an accurate and up-to-the-minute position of wines for sale on your website, an essential starting-point for Ecommerce.

Mastering inventory is essential for Ecommerce success

Mastering inventory is essential for Ecommerce success

Omnichannel Selling

Your e-commerce website sits within a wider channel strategy.

Specialist fine wine retailers will almost always be selling omnichannel: that is, online, taking orders over the phone, via email offers (at the very least) because of the role that relationships and advice play at this end of the market. Other merchants will also be connecting to other sales channels such as Liv-ex or Vivino.

All of which means a single point of control is vital to real-time updating of stock positions, of all types. That leads to clarity of which wines are immediately deliverable versus those that are deliverable at a future date, with the ability to communicate when they are going to become available.

Mastering your business processes in a single system serves the needs of all sales and marketing channels you choose to connect with, and ensures that your stock position is up to date everywhere, and at all times.

A single point of control is vital

A single point of control is vital

Rich Content & Product

Rich, supporting content has a huge impact on client website behaviour. Here we’re referring to product information, producer profiles, tasting notes, critics reviews and scores, awards and accolades, your own notes and recommendations, drinking advice, bottle shots or label images, pairing suggestions and product tags, which combine to massively enrich the user experience and support buying decisions.

69% of private clients surveyed in our Buyer Satisfaction Survey selected Critics Reviews as the most important factor when deciding what to buy.

Building out a complete and comprehensible product taxonomy (how you classify products) help users come to your website and intuitively know what, and how, to search. Accurate wine descriptions with consistent definitions, (such as country, region, sub region, type grape variety, designation etc.) aid to facilitate a good customer browsing experience. which alongside supporting and rich content, will naturally help with Google search rankings.

Easily accessible packages, deals and bundles are always popular too, such as a mixed case of different wines, as they provide value for money and encourage customers to try new wines.

The best practise requirements listed above are hugely supported by industry specific technology. Pre-loaded information such as reviews, scores, drinking dates or other non-standard categorisations reduces the administrative overhead of constantly keying in content and reduces the risk of human error. It is also worth avoiding a set up where basic inventory and pricing data feeds into your Ecommerce, but which you then have to augment via content management within the back end of your website. It’s time consuming, involves replicating and rekeying, and ties up team members to an undue extent.

Quite simply, mastering your data on your business management system in terms of rich product information and content, helps you to sell wine. It also provides the basis for a relatively low-maintenance Ecommerce set-up that’s a seamless customer channel connected to your business system.

Rich, supporting content has a huge impact on client website behaviour.

Rich, supporting content has a huge impact on client website behaviour.

Automation & Scalability

Dynamic content will drive consumer interest, return visits and purchasing behaviours.

At any point in time, you’ll want to determine what you want to allocate to your online Ecommerce channel, and what you want to sell differently or hold back. In most markets volume presumes more units and sales, whereas in fine wine you don’t necessarily want to disclose that you may have 100 cases of a particular wine. Better to disclose 6 cases, and manage the demand curve, or follow the market up after your competitors have sold through.

Being able to group products together for a promotion, or a special feature, focuses your visitors on what’s new or hot, and to do that at scale requires appropriate tools that makes it possible to group, ungroup, price and discount in a single process, then do the same thing week after week, or month after month.

Depending on the types of stock you’re selling, the attributes of that stock may differ. Wines in your own warehouse accounts may be deliverable the following day or the same day. Wines due from local suppliers may take a bit longer, whereas future arrivals could take weeks or years. Customer expectations need managing, in a number of ways, including logical fulfilment rules which can be managed using a sophisticated software system informing your Ecommerce activity.

Once again, being able to do that out of your inventory management system and to determine how products feed into your Ecommerce and how they get updated and changed, will help you to make the most of your online sales channel.

A sophisticated inventory management system will help you make the most of your online sales channel

A sophisticated inventory management system will help you make the most of your online sales channel

Customer Experience

The key to a successful Ecommerce website lies in the trust you build with your customers, and the quality of the offering you’re able to maintain over time.

It is crucial to deliver a stand-out, optimised and personalised online experience for your customers. You can achieve this by defining your target audience, analysing your current customer behaviour and championing what makes your wine business unique, all information which can be supported using a centralised database that understands wine and masters all your product information.

Your clients will expect to see accurate information that reflects their relationship with you, to include online and offline purchasing history, preferences, payment methods, and wines that they are storing with you.

Sophisticated tools such as Preferabli provide insights from your customers’ preferences to increase sales and conversions. They also help cross selling by making alternate product recommendations, described as providing an online experience similar to the one of a bricks and mortar shop.

Core Ecommerce essentials are expected by all consumers shopping online now as standard, such as:

  • A user-friendly website
  • Discounts and promotions
  • Secure payment processing

The key to a successful Ecommerce website lies in the trust you build with your customers

The key to a successful Ecommerce website lies in the trust you build with your customers

Guidance & Support

Finding the right Ecommerce platform and software partner is fundamental.

There are plenty of current examples of Ecommerce implementations that failed due to weak or partial integrations with inventory management systems; or a compromised system that’s been awkwardly adapted to the wine market; or systems that fail the single point of mastering test. Integrations with ERP systems can run into big money and can take far longer than expected.

Choosing a partner who can offer the guidance and support you need makes all the difference. The right Ecommerce solution will have a team ready to help you implement quickly, cost-efficiently and with minimal risk and they will scale and grow alongside you and the wine industry.

We recommend looking for Ecommerce platforms that:

  • Offer features that are specific to the wine industry, such as wine descriptions, food pairing suggestions, and tasting notes, inventory management, personalised customer pricing, storing and shipping functionality.
  • Provides secure payment processing and customer data protection.
  • Have a support team that can advise on basic essential requirements for Ecommerce, such as user-friendliness and legal requirements (shipping restrictions, state regulations, taxes, licenses etc).
  • Have a team passionate in driving innovation, integrations and add-ons relevant to your business and industry.
  • Excel in customer support and have a reputation within the wine industry for first-class customer service.
  • Are supported by an industry-specific business management system that understands fine wine inventory.




Starting an Ecommerce fine wine business requires careful planning and execution for which this guide will serve to de-risk your investment and establish your online wine business with confidence.

Operationally there must be clarity over mastering of data; the two-way data flows between inventory management and the webshop; an underlying clear and robust taxonomy; origination and curating of content; and channel specific pricing.

To succeed long-term requires a well thought-through approach to structural and operational processes, with an underlying platform that must be flexible enough to handle all wine stock types and be set up to integrate with best-in-class Ecommerce software.

A game-changer is finding the right Ecommerce partner, whose software solution and team understand the fine wine industry and can support you through this journey.

Maisie Turner - Decorum

We chose to work with Wine Owners as we found them to have a similar outlook to ourselves. Extremely customer focussed, and appreciative of how collection management of fine wine needs to speak to the emotions as well as to the numbers. They understand the passion and fascination of collecting as well as the importance of it as an investment class.

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