Vintners uncork retail tech for direct sales

North Coast wineries are selling more wine directly to consumers and are deploying technology and ideas from the wider retail world to do so.

[caption id="attachment_95433" align="alignright" width="298"] Jeff Stevenson, Andrew Kamphuis[/caption]

While retail sales in general and of certain luxury products were slowing or slipping in the first half of this year, sales of wine directly to consumers continue to accelerate, according to companies with direct-sales services for wineries.

"We're up 15 percent every month from last year," said Jeff Stevenson, whose Santa Rosa-based VinoPro company sells $9 million--$10 million in wine annually for wineries over the phone.

The average order size grew from $370 in 2012 to $390 last year and was holding at around that level through July 15 of this year, Mr. Stevenson said.

"Overall, sales are way up," said Andrew Kamphuis, chief operations officer of Napa-based WineDirect, which offers winery management, regulatory compliance and direct-sales software as well as telesales and fulfillment services. About 950 wineries use its Vin65 e-commerce platform on their websites, and 250 use its point-of-sale software.

[caption id="attachment_95434" align="alignleft" width="360"] WineDirect upgraded its three fulfillment centers, such as this new one in Ohio, to handle the User Choice Club service for winery customers launched earlier this year. (credit: WineDirect)[/caption]

Sales for vintners using the software for at least two years grew an average of 40 percent January 2012--December 2013, he said.Eye to retail

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