Cakebread Conclusion (or: How to sell more wine by using Twitter)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

[thanks to NPR's Public Radio Kitchen for featuring this piece]

A couple of weeks ago, I tried something new on this site and I wanted to follow up to let everyone know how it went. One of my favorite wines, Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, is very hard to find in Massachusetts. Making it even more difficult to obtain is the fact that it is illegal to have wine shipped from retailers out of state. As a result, we're limited to a handful of wine retailers in the state that have e-commerce sites. One that I've checked out a few times, but had never purchased from previously is Table and Vine.

I noticed they had Cakebread Chardonnay available on their site at a very reasonable price. Some retailers tend to jack up the price if they are able to get their hands on Cakebread it seems, so I was curious whether they might be able to get me some Cabernet. This is the kind of question that I wouldn't take the time to E-mail, and it's not the kind of question I'd take the time to ask over the phone. It's the kind of question you'd ask if you happened to be in a wine store and a friendly clerk asked if they could help you find anything. There is where Twitter comes in.

Table and Vine is on Twitter so I thought I'd ask them: "@tableandvine Like your Cakebread Chard at $34.99. Any chance you could score some Cakebread Cab?". A little while later I got a response: "@RobertDwyer still checking on the Cakebread Cab....hard to get item that everyone LOVES". Then a week or so went by and they sent me a direct message letting me know that they had it in stock, what the price was, and asked whether I'd like to buy some. Cool!

I then put up a blog entry asking others if they'd like to join with me on a purchase of Cakebread or other wine from Table and Vine so we could get a case discount and save on shipping costs by combining an order (Table and Vine is in an hour and half west of me). In total, 5 of us went in for 15 bottles of wine. Two I'd never met before, and I have to say- it was very rewarding to discover that people I'd never connected with were reading this site and very interested in coming together as consumers this way.

In the end, I think it was a win-win for everyone involved. The folks at Table and Vine sold over $700 of wine that they otherwise wouldn't have sold to us. We each got our hands on some wine that's hard to find at a good price, and we didn't have to drive all over town to find it. We combined our purchases to save on shipping and received a case discount in return. It was all made possible by Twitter, a blog, and E-mail. All of which are free.

I think this is a simple but compelling example of how wine businesses can benefit from being on Twitter. You don't need to devote a lot of time and money on a social media strategy. You don't even need to have a web site. Just act human. Be there. Listen and respond.

What to do next:
Question of the Day: Is there a wine you'd be interested in combining purchasing power on? If not a specific wine, a specific retailer perhaps? Leave a comment below and maybe we can make a connection for a future deal.


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