Allegrini 2018

Italian wine is stable in Germany, but online is growing and distribution is turning smart

Data from the Spanish Wine Observatory, Wine Intelligence and from the new platform of Ges Sorrentino, one of the Italian leaders on the German market
Italian wine is stable in Germany, but online is growing and distribution is turning smart

The impact of the pandemic, and the countless changes it is bringing about in many areas of our daily life, has also brought about changes to the German wine market, which is strategic for Italian wineries, and historically not comfortable with sudden changes. Economically, the wine business is not collapsing, while in a scenario dominated by large-scale distribution and discount stores, online sales are growing more and more and distributors are scrambling to keep up with the times. According to the Spanish Wine Observatory, during the first semester of 2020, imports to Germany decreased by 7.6% in value compared to 2019, down to 1.1 billion euros. However, Italy did much better than the others, and continues to hold its leading position, though it went down -1.3%, for a total of 453 million euros. Germans, who are used to consuming wine mainly at home and buy it in supermarkets, like in the rest of the world, are now increasingly looking towards e-commerce. And, as a matter of fact, according to data from the English agency Wine Intelligence, the percentage of regular wine consumers who buy primarily on the digital channels of large-scale retail trade has increased from 9% in 2017 to 12% in 2020. Consumers who bought wine in several types of shops (large-scale distribution, wine shops, and so on) went up from 23% to 29%, and those consumers who mainly went to specialized shops or directly to wineries, increased from 23% to 26%.
This trend indicates that change is in action, and the people who deal in wine distribution are very interested as well. Service and innovation will increasingly make a difference in these activities. Producers, transporters, distributors, end customers will more and more be paying attention to speed, flexibility and cost optimization. The transformation process is underway, regardless of the pandemic, and the Covid-19 emergency has accelerated it, as it has in many other respects. Ges Sorrentino, one of the main Italian wine importers in Germany is heading in this direction, too. He created the new Sorrentino Service Partnership, (including companies such as Berlucchi, Tommasi Family Estates, Bertani Domains, Schiopetto, Suavia, Librandi, Torrevento, Donnafugata, Cantina Tollo, Marchesi di Barolo, Cantine Leonardo Da Vinci and Garofoli, just to name a few). The Service was established on one of the most important markets for Italian wine. It has been simplified as much as possible, to be a smart service of direct imports from Italy. Sorrentino basically will act only as an intermediary between the winery and the end customer, whether it is a wine shop or a restaurant. “The customer places the order through us, we send it to the wineries, the wineries prepare the goods, the customer arranges for delivery, the goods are shipped, and we make sure that payments are made, the customer receives the wine and he resells it. Plus, if we want to, we can also manage all the bureaucratic part of customs clearance and the like”, Renè Sorrentino, who leads the group with his father and founder Francesco Sorrentino, explained to WineNews.
It is only partially new, because Sorrentino has always been farsighted and has never stocked up his warehouse. The innovation of this new logistic platform, which is called Sorrentino Service Partnership (developed together with Avanzini, one of the leading transportation companies on the Italy-Germany route), is in its terms of service and size. “The minimum order is 120 bottles, compared to 600 for our standard service. Therefore, it is a third of a pallet, which can be completed with different references from the same winery, or perhaps with wines from other wineries in Italy, with which we can group the order in their warehouse in Verona, before being shipped to the final customer. We do not charge any additional costs for this service mode, because it is an investment, for us, to expand our audience. For instance, we can reach places that are located in city centers, and do not have space for storage, so they need to order a small amount of wine at a time, or maybe they want to change often and experiment. Further, since this service is 100% direct export from Italy, if the customer lets us take care of all the bureaucratic part, he can save a lot of time, which means working time, and money. And, it is not a marginal aspect, especially in such a complicated scenario, where much of the restaurant industry is struggling. Essentially, the restaurant or wine shop orders the wine directly from the winery, pays the price set by the winery without any additional costs directly to the winery - because we have always worked with producers who have included everything in the cost of the bottle, also the cost of distribution, with the maximum transparency - and then they wait to receive their order, and don’t have to worry about anything else”.
And there is more. “We also have a bonus program, because our aim is to build a relationship of trust and loyalty. Therefore, for every 120 bottles, one bonus point is awarded, and for every pallet, 2 points. Once the customer has reached 15 points, they are entitled to one free delivery from anywhere in Italy, whether it is 120 bottles or a entire pallet, and a possible further cost-saving”. It is a smart distribution model, 2.0 that looks at innovation, required to keep up with the times, which are changing faster than ever.

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