As highlighted by Edward Mui in his last Morningstar article, it seems that high-quality shopping centers will remain critical to retail strategies. Despite the effect of e-commerce on a changing retail landscape, physical stores will continue to have a relevant and critical role in increasingly omnichannel retail strategies. Retailers want to be in the distribution channels where their customers shop and where they have the best chance of financial success; while the wine lover keeps up to buy wine in a physical wine shop – despite the significative off-premise presence in the French wine retailing (cf Le Point Spécial Vins, September 2016). Can we argue that it is the shop agregation in a same place (ie- in a mall) that determines the wine shop survival vs. an E-commerce platform? Many e-commerce platform specialized in the wine selling have been created on internet during these last ten years but they are already focused on the selling wine activity and the creation of a virtual exchange of goods between the producer and the consumer. The independent wine shops and the national wine retailer channels are the one that are filling the gap.
The independent French wine shops survival is mainly due to the new competences acquired by the cellarman (“caviste“) to answer to the new customer needs. This job has changed. The cellarman has to be well-trained (not only aware of the wine temperature) and to be able to present unknown wines/appellations to the customers. Just selling wines is no more a job, the off-premise superstores are able to do it very well and in addition they are developing their own wine e-shops. Wine sales in France remains dominated by the hypermarkets (large format out-of-town multicategory retailers) and there is no chance that it changes. National wine retailers such as Nicolas are the main competitors (with more than 494 stores in France, 20 corners and 2 wine bars). Millesima.com is the historical French wine shop on line. Since 2006, it is also in NYC with a physical wine store in Manhattan.
In the other hand, there are evidence that the final customer needs less physical contact with the product, but more need for information. Biggest losers in Italy have been the independent smaller grocery stores, mainly based in the south of the country, which have seen their market share under pressure from all sides as national and international chains advance regionally. The “Click and collect” wine sales phenomenon is growing but it is still hard to have consistent figures to date. As a general evidence, the wine business seems to be oriented towards: (1) the direct-to-home retailers business especially in Australia seems to gather a significative sucess while (2) the Direct to Consumer business is exploding on the US market. A new wine business paradigm is coming out and it is mainly supported by the new IT adoptions as in many other industries selling services and commodities.