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E-commerce & the AWMB’s online activities

E-commerce is not a new invention, and this distribution channel is also securely established in the wine industry. For many years, a great number of wine producers and wine merchants have been actively pursuing sales via the Internet. The current situation – from lockdown to gradual reopening – has accelerated the development of online wine sales to a tremendous degree, and the demand for wine via the Internet has increased significantly.

© ÖWM/Anna Stöcher

Online wine: here to stay?

For many businesses, the online trade offers an additional opportunity to sell wine, and it should be seen as such. The objective with e-commerce should be that of creating an additional conduit for revenue. In addition, online retailing offers certain features that brick-and-mortar merchants cannot provide, such as continuous accessibility, or the availability of an entire product portfolio that could not be displayed in a shop due to spatial limitations. In addition, consumers have come to know and appreciate the advantages of ordering online in the past few months. Online retail will not replace the local wine shop – or the large chains, for that matter – but a combination of both sales channels opens up new opportunities.

The Austrian wine industry has already reported high online growth rates, and there is also positive international feedback from merchants in this sector. For example, Thorsten Hermelink, chairman of the Hawesko Group, states that the company made a very positive beginning in the first quarter (source: Meininger) – the increase in e-commerce amounted to 5.6%. Austrian winegrowers also report high rates of growth in their online business.

During the last 12 weeks of the COVID lockdown, wine sales increased by nearly 31% in off premise channels compared to the same period a year ago. $20-$25 priced wines led all others in growth during this period.

Extraordinarily impressive are the online off-premise alcohol sales: There has been a triple digit growth in each of the last 10 weeks (e.g. +248.3 in week 21). Wine represented just under 70% of online alcohol sales.

Online activities of the AWMB

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) also recognises the growing importance of e-commerce. Its diverse collaborations will now place a much stronger focus on online presence, newsletter placement and website teasers. With the onset of Corona restrictions, the AWMB moved their tried and true formats (commented tastings, “A Close Look at”) to the Internet, and launched new round table tastings. Thus, Austrian wines can be presented all over the world even in times of restricted travel options.

In the past eight weeks, the AWMB has brought twelve such events to life, ranging from round table discussions in the UK, the USA, Germany and Russia to an online “Close Look at Oslo” and  a commented tasting in Colorado. In total, over 1,000 international sommeliers, journalists, restaurateurs and other wine experts and professionals took part in these formats.

AWMB Managing Director Chris Yorke sums things up: “In challenging times, it becomes necessary to be flexible, and also to implement new ideas. Our online formats are highly regarded and praised by experts around the world. I am proud that as a team we have adapted to the current situation so quickly! Online formats will continue to be part of our activities in the future, but I’m also truly looking forward to ‘real’ tastings.”

Press release

Austrian Wine Marketing Board

Ms Sabine Bauer-Wolf
Weinakademikerin
Head of Communications

Mr Georg Schullian
Teamleader Press, PR & Corporate Design

[t] +43(1)5039267 [f]: +43(1)503926770
Prinz-Eugen-Straße 34 / 1040 VIENNA / AUSTRIA
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FN 78 209p / Handelsgericht Wien

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