K & M Wines
A VineSpring Story
KEN AND MAURO (K & M) ARE THE CULTIVATORS OF K & M WINES, A THREE-ACRE VINEYARD NESTLED ON THE SOUTHERN SLOPES OF PARRETT MOUNTAIN IN WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON, WITH THEIR TASTING ROOM IN NEARBY CARLTON. ALCHEMY VINEYARD, THE FARMING PORTION OF THE BUSINESS NAMED BY KEN AND MAURO FOR THE TRANSFORMATIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGE THEY MADE MOVING FROM CITY TO COUNTRY, IS SELF-ROOTED AND PLANTED WITH POMMARD AND WÄDENSWIL CLONES OF PINOT NOIR AND A DIJON CLONE OF CHARDONNAY. THEIR WINES HAVE EARNED AN ENTHUSIASTIC FOLLOWING AMONG THOSE WHO ENJOY SMALL PRODUCTION, FOOD-FRIENDLY WINES.
From its beginnings in 2006, K & M Wines has focused on connecting with customers and creating personalized experiences through their wines, tasting room, community involvement, and marketing channels. They rely almost entirely on DTC sales (only 1 percent of their business is wholesale), so developing relationships with their customers is essential to their continued growth.
“We try to tailor the tasting to the person's interests. A lot of it is just asking the customers a lot of questions to find out what kind of wines and experiences they're interested in.” - Ken Morrison, Owner
While the majority of their DTC sales are still rooted in tasting room experiences and other in-person interactions, Ken and Mauro recognize that changing consumer habits are expanding their customer base outside of their local region. Currently, online sales only account for 10-12 percent of revenue, but that number is rapidly increasing as K & M places more emphasis on their online presence.
K & M established a website presence and developed an informal wine club model from their inception, but the lack of organization and integrated systems made it difficult to manage.
“It was a very unstructured wine club, it was like, ‘Oh, buy a case of wine in a year and you can be in our wine club, and we'll do all these fun things for you, and you'll save on your purchases.’ I just knew that I needed... Well, one, I needed a better website, and then I needed a POS, because I was just using Square, and then my club was just in spreadsheets.”
Along with the need to streamline systems and processes came the goal of more segmentation and personalization. With customers spanning different regions and wine styles, tailoring messaging can be challenging. K & M was looking for a way to translate the intimate tasting room experience to the digital landscape.
When Ken started evaluating various winery eCommerce and wine club management systems, he came across several technologies that were either price prohibitive or very clunky and unable to meet their demands. He was referred to VineSpring by a friend in the wine business, who recommended the solution as a good fit for small wineries in particular.
“So many of the others didn't have POS, or they weren't mobile friendly, or they didn't have a shopping cart, or they only focused on point-based loyalty. What I really loved about VineSpring was the flexibility, they didn’t try to create an email provider, they just integrated with the best.”
The VineSpring platform has been built on the premise of focusing on winery-specific needs and not overextending technologies into areas where other providers are better equipped. Ken appreciates this approach when it comes to integrating VineSpring with best-in-class solutions, such as Square and MailChimp.
While K & M’s wine clubs have been around since they started, the club operations have drastically improved. They rely on VineSpring’s wine club management tools to group customers with the appropriate inventories for more structured and streamlined releases and shipments.
“If I had started with something like VineSpring when I was building my club, it would have been a lot better, because a lot of people loved the structure of my club, but I think just keeping track, having all the data in one place makes it so much better.”
As for the club structure itself, K & M employs a flexible model that’s intended to give members more control over their wine selections.
“I always liked the ‘get the wines that you like’ model. The way it's structured is it's a one, two or three case club. So you commit to buying one, two or three cases over the course of a year, and I do three shipments of four, eight or 12 bottles."
For out-of-state club members who aren’t as eligible for some of the club benefits, such as tasting room events and wine dinners, they do two shipments of six, twelve, or eighteen bottles twice a year with shipping costs covered. For in-state members, they designate a shipping month where they host an official wine club release with a series of parties in the tasting room. These events invite members to come taste the wines and select the bottles with which to fill their case(s).
There are several benefits to this wine club model. Not only does it put the customer first in terms of what they want, but it also:
Strengthens relationships with club members through more face-to-face interactions.
Builds a community around the club where members get to interact with fellow enthusiasts.
Presents upsell opportunities through more frequent visits to the tasting room.
In situations where customers aren’t able to make it into the winery to pick up their shipments, they offer them the option of shipping (at the member’s expense) or holding credit on their account to select from available wines upon their next visit… which often results in upsells, sometimes 40-50 percent over their required wine selection.
Looking ahead, K & M Wines is looking to reinforce and scale their efforts around creating personalized customer experiences by implementing more segmentation and targeted marketing automation programs. They’re also pushing to expand their out-of-state presence through digital marketing tactics such as social media (particularly Instagram), flash sales, and shopping cart abandonment retargeting. And while they’ve been meeting their growth targets year over year, they’re also cautious about matching their production to sales, so steady, sustainable growth is their hope for the coming years.
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