E-commerce, a brand new driver of champagne development? – E-commerce, a brand new driver of champagne development?

With global e-commerce growth of more than 26% in 2020 and 12% in 2021 for all retail, Covid has enabled this market to gain five years of maturity. Now 77% of consumers shop online. To what extent can this boom benefit wine and champagne? The CIVC is an exciting study.

In terms of online sales, there are inequalities both between countries and between product types. In China, e-commerce accounts for 24% of retail sales, while in Germany, the US, Belgium or France it is between 12 and 14%. The food sector is behind, but it is the one that is experiencing the highest growth, with an increase of 40% in 2020! In 2021, online sales accounted for 10% of wine trade turnover and 11% of champagne turnover, ie EUR 550 million and 30 million bottles!

While half of the e-commerce transactions are performed by the three generalist giants Alibaba, Amazon and JD, they are, despite several attempts, not too present in the world of wine, the complexity of the products requires very strong marketing support. . On the other hand, there is a strong presence of “pure players” such as millesima, vivino, supermarket chains through their facilities and delivery services (in the US, the second largest export market for e-commerce of champagne after the UK, Supermarkets therefore play a leading role ) and finally omni-channel distributors like Nicolas. On the other hand, direct e-commerce remains in the minority. It is especially suitable for brands that have a strong reputation and have sufficient resources to establish logistics and after-sales service. In France, for champagne, it represents only 2% of online sales.

Note that “Quick commerce”, which practices a number of stores capable of delivering within half an hour, is very suitable for the way of consuming champagne, because it exactly suits your spirit, wine that we buy spontaneously when we want to have fun.

German example

In some countries where wine retailer networks are limited, e-commerce is an interesting alternative. This is the case in Germany, where several wine merchants are concentrated in eight large cities that structure the territory, but which represent only 45% of the population. Thus, a large proportion of consumers do not have a nearby place to shop when looking for quality cuvée. However, contrary to popular belief, this demand is very strong in the country. Indeed, there is a tendency for Germany to be considered primarily a selling point for cheap champagnes, given the important place that mass sales occupy there. However, there in 2019 the average price of a bottle of champagne was 28% higher than in France. Another prejudice is that this market is saturated. But if Germany is the leading consumer of sparkling wines with 362 million bottles, champagne represents only 15 million (4%), which leaves it making good progress.

Obstacles

Several players have found effective solutions to support the consumer in his choice online and replace the human contact of the wine trader, the best ally to examine the tastes of customers and direct him to products in accordance with his expectations. Also, faced with an abundance of supply, it is more likely that the latter than among wine retailers will return to classic brands with a strong reputation that they consider safer. However, some sites offer interesting entry points from different angles, such as food / wine pairing. This does not mean that low-profile brands should not use this tool, but they will have to rely on appropriate models such as the subscription box system (Little Balloon) whose concept is just based on discovery, or even private sales that make small choices in which to drown less in the mass … Among the preconditions is also important to have true homogeneity of price in its distribution, including from one country to another. Indeed, online sales offer the consumer the ability to easily compare.

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