Excess Wine Inventory Pains France’s Bordeaux Region — Can Retail Optimization Technology Lift the Industry’s Spirits?

France recently announced it would dedicate $216 million to helping Bordeaux winemakers destroy their excess inventory, even helping them to tear up vineyards and plant other crops. France’s Minister of Agriculture noted that market changes — namely widespread inflation and cost of living increases — had considerable impact on consumer spending, resulting in a market stagnation that kept the region’s wine cellars filled to the brim. According to the government, this exceptional measure was the only way to help Bordeaux evade a total price collapse.

As a veteran supply chain professional, I know the connection between excess inventory and margin erosion is undeniable. But the retail technology (and wine) enthusiast in me shudders at the idea of cases of wine being laid to waste, especially when data-driven technologies could easily be deployed to help Bordeaux bounce back from its Merlot-est ever sales record. 

Here are some ways France’s winemakers can use real-time data to help their Malbec make a comeback:

1. Demand modeling and planning: When it comes to products with long lead times, like wine, inaccurate demand forecasting means that inventory miscalculations will come to light quarters (or even years) after production. In the case of Bordeaux, the industry seemed to plan production levels around optimistic forecasts of Chinese market growth. Unfortunately, China had already bored of Bordeaux (and all other wines, including their own ) by 2018, with consumption decreasing by 260 million bottles each year thereafter. But France’s production pipeline marched on, seemingly without heeding the market changes. 


Today’s retail optimization technologies help retailers see market fluctuations in real time, and can add new data to existing forecasts to recalibrate their forecasts. More importantly perhaps is the variety of data that can now be integrated into planning models for improved accuracy. Where retailers were once limited to their own internal sales data to create their forecasts, they can now connect to multiple third-party databases to understand the “whys” that inform their understanding of why sales occur, or not.

2. Inventory balancing: Overstock happens to every retailer, whether they sell watches, womenswear or wine. When retailers find themselves with excess inventory, profit margins depend on their ability to balance stock levels quickly. In the omnichannel context, inventory is spread out across multiple distribution channels that usually include digital and brick-and-mortar points of sale. Inventory visibility is crucial to balancing stock levels in these complex distribution networks. McKinsey & Co research has found that creating better supply chain visibility has been a top priority among retailers for years; France’s omnichannel winemakers can beat back overstock with greater investment in comprehensive inventory visibility.

Luckily, new inventory optimization technologies that are suited exactly to this purpose — giving retailers a single view of their inventory in real time, whether the product is being sold from a warehouse, a store or online — are growing in prevalence and popularity. When inventory and order visibility are combined, the retailer can easily see sales trends and make informed fulfillment and distribution decisions that help balance inventory in real time, providing vital padding for planning errors. 

3. Maximize product reach and mobility: To thrive in retail today, channel diversity is crucial. Retailers must be able to reach the widest audience possible and have the ability to serve them through multiple channels. According to Salesforce, 48% of top retailers reported that omnichannel capabilities helped them to engage new audiences. Today’s omnichannel technologies connect sales and distribution channels, empowering retailers to discover new markets and engage and serve audiences from multiple points of sale simultaneously. 

For France’s wine market, enhancing omnichannel capabilities would mean having the opportunity to discover new buyers and shift products away from underperforming markets, without necessarily having to relocate the inventory until a sale is made. French wineries could double down on omnichannel by integrating AI-backed marketing technologies that use consumer behavior data and profile mirroring to rapidly expand audiences and buyers. 

Today’s data-driven optimization technologies mean retailers never have to say “c’est la vie” to inaccurate demand projects, to excess inventory or to underperforming markets. As this year’s harvest draws to a close, let’s raise our glasses to Bordeaux’s remaining vines and the omnichannel optimization technologies that are destined to help France save (and sell) more Sauvignon Blanc.

Frankie Mossman, Chief Commercial Officer at Dropit since June 2023, leads commercial relationships and operations, driving the scaling of Dropit’s enterprise solutions. With a transformative leadership track record, Mossman previously served as Chief Customer Officer at Overhaul, where she excelled at global program expansion. Mossman’s extensive background includes managing a $1 billion transportation budget as Head of Integrated Logistics and Materials at Honeywell and overseeing operations across 30 countries and $400+ million in annual spend as VP of Global Logistics at Flex. She holds a business degree from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of Stanford’s Executive Leadership Program.

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