a VineSpring Story
Coferment is the creation of Jim Kuhner, a West Coast wine lover with a focus on small, family-owned and independent wineries. For nearly six years, Jim has consulted with wineries on all aspects of running a successful wine business, including: go-to-market strategy, sales and marketing, operations, fulfillment management, hospitality, event planning, and more.
Over the years, Jim has experienced first-hand the evolution of the winery business model, helping his clients navigate the seas of change. Perhaps the most impactful change in recent years has been the transition from traditionally manual processes to more automated, online operations, and of course, the explosive growth of eCommerce in the wine segment.
Jim wears many hats when helping his clients, but one area where he lends particular expertise is on the technology side of the business. With a degree in computer science, Jim left his corporate job to pursue his passion of wine and has been able to blend the two when it comes to advising clients on technology. Having worked with several winery management platforms, Jim often finds himself recommending VineSpring to his small- to mid-sized winery clients.
“For the basic things that need to get done in terms of selling wine and keeping customers happy, it's all built in, it's already there and that's the reason why I love the platform.” - Jim Kuhner, Owner
From the core functionality that VineSpring serves—creating and updating orders, customer information management, fulfillment—to the more customizable features such as club management and allocations, Jim spends a lot of time in the platform. As an agency provider, one key benefit that Jim notes is the ability to toggle between his clients’ VineSpring accounts within a single administrator view.
“Being a consultant like myself, who has multiple clients, having access to all of their VineSpring accounts from one portal, where I can just toggle back and forth between clients, to do what I need to do—manage their orders, manage their entire VineSpring database of products and customers, and clubs, and allocations and all of that detail—makes it so easy to do.”
When asked, what are some of the key characteristics of a winery that will be successful on VineSpring, Jim noted the following:
Smaller production requires more strategic allocation models
Wineries with smaller production have to be more strategic about their allocation models. The VineSpring platform features a flexible, customizable allocation engine that includes wishlist granting functionality, along with audience building and tier segmentation tools.
“You really have to be cautious about how to distribute the right amount of wine and still sell out the cases that we've set aside for our direct-to-consumer market. If we're going to sell out in a two-week period or in some cases, a two-day period, we want to be able to make sure that all of our customers have access to the appropriate volumes based on their supporting history. We want to reward that support with a larger allocation of bottles that they get to enjoy.”
The need for easy access to customer and order data
The core function of an eCommerce system is to streamline order management and fulfillment, and this is especially important for smaller wineries whose primary focus is on making excellent wine. But equally as important is having the tools to nurture those customer relationships after a sale. So, easy access to that customer data is essential for developing an engaged, loyal following.
“For what we do on a daily basis, most of our daily operations are creating orders, updating orders, getting clients, updating clients’ information, including notes—basic customer relationship management (CRM) updates—into the system. We do that on a daily basis for customers when we have interactions with them, positive and negative. We put that all into the system.”
Low barriers to entry and scalability
Budget is always a key factor for any business when investing in a technology solution. When evaluating an eCommerce platform, it’s important to look at the ease of implementation, along with how the solution will solve for inefficiencies, work with existing processes, and scale for growth.
“The price point of the platform is, I think, very fair. And for any winery, whether you're just starting out with a thousand cases and you need to get up and running, or whether you're a 5,000 to 10,000 case client or bigger and you're not satisfied with the operations or the complexities of another platform, VineSpring has a very easy way of making that migration happen and making it very painless.”
VineSpring’s front-end functionality makes it easy for a web developer to integrate the platform into either an existing website or a brand new site. VineSpring also offers connections to other systems, such as MailChimp (email and marketing automation), Square (point-of-sale), ShipCompliant (compliance), and Quickbooks (bookkeeping), making it adaptable to your existing systems and workflows.
"But at the end of the day, it's all about helping them to sell their wine more efficiently and allowing them to continue doing what they love to do, which is make great wines."