In delivering the optimal shopper experience, retailers are recommended to provide consumers with in-depth information about all their products. However, in most grocery stores, the employees are not always experts on all the many items that are sold in the typical supermarket.
To circumvent this potential customer service gap, Marsh Supermarkets, a grocery chain with stores in Indiana and Ohio, has implemented a pilot program from online wine community and mobile application Vivino in all of its 72 locations. As part of the program, the Marsh grocery stores now feature shelf-talkers displaying the Vivino Rating alongside Marsh’s best-rated wines.
Users with the Vivino app can scan any wine label or wine list with their mobile device, enabling the company’s image recognition technology to deliver ratings, reviews and average pricing for every bottle.
“Finding 72 people with an extensive vocabulary around wine is very difficult,” said Marietta Bourgeau, Senior Director of Supply Chain at Marsh Supermarkets. “Even to those people who have a good understanding about wine, remembering all the information about the varietals and how they play and interact is very difficult. Vivino solves a lot of those problems, and if we can incorporate that for our customer at shelf, it’s basically giving us a sommelier at our shelf for each individual customer. It’s a sommelier that would know their taste specifically, which is extremely powerful to the customer experience.”
Self-Service Done Right
Although Marsh Supermarkets does have a sommelier in some of their stores, the Vivino service adds value in that it’s helpful for consumers who aren’t familiar with wines and just want to browse the aisle until they find the right fit.
“It’s a self-service approach,” said David Palmer, SVP of Marketing, Sales and Advertising at Marsh Supermarkets. “Even if there’s a sommelier present a lot of customers would prefer to do it on their own, as it’s less intimidating. Some customers don’t want to look less educated. Generally, younger consumers would prefer a social environment for learning and sharing than to go to an expert.”
Given that 93% of consumers reported needing help in a store with their wine-buying decisions, according to a Vivino survey, the move gives Marsh a leg up on not only in the grocery sector, but even among stores dedicated to selling wine and spirits.
Crowdsourced Ratings Give Shoppers Like-Minded Perspective
The Vivino Rating is a system based on the opinions of wine lovers at all levels of expertise. Using a five-star rating system, Vivino users can contribute ratings and tasting notes for more than eight million wines from around the globe, forming the largest wine library in the world. These crowdsourced reviews are designed to help wine lovers navigate a wine buying process with confidence and ease. While there are publications such as Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator that are dedicated to rating wines, Vivino’s reviews enable consumers to get a perspective that may be much closer to their own.
“Customers tend to buy wine from a perspective of what they know,” Bourgeau said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, they tend to purchase the Oliver wine in Indiana because it’s the location winery that everyone knows and loves here. How do we take that varietal or that label that they liked, and compare it to something else that we have on our shelf that they may not have tried? After all, many consumers that drink wine like to venture out and try new things.”
Aside from providing tasting notes, the Vivino reviews give shoppers recommendations on what wines fit best with specific foods.
“In the food business, one of the things we focus on is trying to make it more of an experience,” Palmer noted. “Wine and food together tend to ferment an event-driven experience, but many people often don’t have an idea how to pair them. This is a way to help guide people who are trying to learn how to appreciate wine with food.”