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Local Retailers Selling Wine Online have a Seriously Big Advantage

If you’ve read my recent posts you’ll know why I’m such a strong advocate of local wine retailers selling wine online. It’s from brutal experience in setting up my own venture to sell wine online.

The Local Wine Retailer’s Advantage

In summary those posts said,

  • There is a particular market segment called the Experimenter. This keen group of wine drinkers love to try different wines and find out more about varietals and wine regions.
  • Many fine wines stores have particular niches that the store owners love.
  • My new venture would have connected these wine experts to those wine lovers. However there were some fundamental problems…
  • If you’re selling a digital product such as music or have a low mail and handling cost product then an internet only business could well be very profitable (heck just look at Amazon with books and Apple with music).
  • If freight and handling are a significant cost then the internet will be a means to pre-sell the product with the actual sale more likely being made in-store rather than online. And I believe this applies to the wine retail industry.
  • (The exception is case lots of wine which have sufficient margin to cover freight costs and lower handling costs.)

Google in the last week has confirmed just what an advantage it is being a local business close to a customer’s location for search reasons,

One out of five searches on Google are related to a user’s location, and very often people are looking for local businesses.”

What’s more there is a Location War that is going on to become the de facto directory for local businesses on the Web

It’s between the likes of yelp, foursquare, twitter, yahoo, and apple. And Google, who launched Google Places launched last week. It’s a revamping of the Local Business Center (see my post on wine SEO ).

Here’s the video explaining what it does:

By becoming this de facto directory for local businesses they help local consumers find the best place for a cup of coffee, a book…or a bottle of wine.

It’s not completely altruistic of course as what they really want to do is sell paid advertising in the directory for heavily searched terms.

Lots of Local Search Wine Retailer Options

The difference between Google Places and the other armies of “geo start ups” is that Google is coming from the search angle whereas the others are coming from a social media angle. In short, yelp relies on people writing reviews and “checking in” to offer an informative directory of local businesses. Whereas Google uses it’s search algorithms to rank local search results.

It’s closely tied into Google Maps

It accepts user reviews from Google Maps but also from third party providers. How the listings and the reviews are ranked is dependent on the relevance of the search terms, geographical distance and the usual algorithmic secret sauce.

This is a very interesting battle!

One that will have a big effect on small businesses for years to come. Will Google be able to offer more of the social aspects that the others have? In which case they could dominate the local advertising sector one more time (the first time being local Adwords).

One thing is for sure is that local internet marketing continues to be vitally important to a wine retailer’s marketing. So make sure you at least claim your Google Places account if not the others. That person surfing their mobile just outside your door may actually be reading reviews about your store before they walk in.

What success or problems have you seen with foursquare, yelp or google places?


  1. […] further down the page.So the first the thing you should do is make sure you have taken care of your Google Places account as well as other local services such as yelp.com, citysearch, and foursquare.c….Next I put in the search Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I get the winery itself, a […]

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