How Technology Can Power the Future of Allocations

Highly-allocated wineries have a unique challenge when it comes to technology. Unlike a wine club-led program, allocations have more flexibility and as a result, more complexity.

Custom-tailored allocation offerings are “artisanal”— each allocation meticulously hand-crafted based on data compiled from several sources and massaged by humans.

Allocations managers live to delight their customers and work hard to provide them with flexibility and personalized options, but they often have the challenge of limited supply and high demand. Wineries have to simultaneously reward customer buying behaviors while making sure that they intelligently distribute the wine across all allocations members.

This can become a complex, and often manual puzzle to put together. But, smart, connected technology can improve the allocations process.

Here’s how.

Understanding Inventory

Customers are often attracted to allocations programs because of the exclusivity. The high demand and limited supply give them a unique opportunity to access and buy limited production wines.

The challenge of this is the limited production part. Since there aren’t large case volumes being produced, wineries have to be diligent about the tracking of their wine inventory. Technology often powers inventory tracking and ensures that only available wines are offered to their members.

Tracking Buying Behaviors

Customers exhibit behaviors across multiple channels all of the time. We can know past purchase history, tasting room visit information, abandoned cart behavior, product browsing history, order returns, wine preference data, demographic data…I could go on and on.

Wineries often create groups or segments of allocation members, using this data, to provide specific offers. These groups can be based on just customer wishlist data, or it can account for all of the behaviors I listed, plus more.

Communication Engagement

If your winery uses channels like email and social to communicate with your customers, you also have access to communication preferences based on how and what messages your customers respond to. This information can be used to improve communication methods. For example, if you find that customers open only emails related to a particular topic or see that your customer-base responds more favorably to social messages than email, you might adjust where you spend your time and how you announce your releases.

This kind of data is also useful in tracking topic interest. If you can understand which topics, wines, releases, or offers your customers click on most often, you can tailor your offers and information to be more relevant to specific customer segments.

Connect and Customize to Delight

Allocations programs are all about personalization. The goal is to match customers with the wines that they want. Achieving that goal is dependent on your ability to connect inventory, buying behavior, and communication data.

Right now, many wineries are exporting data out of multiple systems and manually massaging that data to build customer groups and tailor release offers.

We need to improve this highly-manual process. But, there aren’t one-size-fits-all systems out there that can satisfy the requirements of an allocations program. Why should there be? Your allocations program is almost as unique as your wine, an all-in-one system would need to be built for each winery.

Instead of seeking a single system, we need to start looking at a connected ecosystem of technologies that marries customer data into a single source. This can absolutely be accomplished through APIs and webhooks (described in more detail, in this post).

Today, there is still work to be done across vendors who support the industry to improve our connectedness, but we’re headed in the right direction. A future is in sight where many of the systems and software platforms that serve the wine industry will seamlessly connect to one another.

In the meantime, I recommend that you select systems that have an open-mentality and are future-looking. If your inventory management, fulfillment, eCommerce, POS, and marketing systems are invested in improving the connectedness across systems, then you are one step closer to a more personalized allocations program that is more efficient to manage.

For more information on the the benefits of a connected and flexible system, read The Benefits of Hub-and-Spoke Technology.

And, as we work together to create a connected ecosystem, we will be working to improve how we work and improve the experience of our customers as a result.