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How This Brick-and-Mortar Wine Shop Is Growing Sales During the Pandemic

9 min read

Under the Success Stories section of our blog, we publish real-life stories of small business owners who run their online stores with Ecwid E-commerce. Here you can get to know fellow merchants and learn from first-hand experience. Have an Ecwid store and want to share your story on our blog? Here’s how to do it.

Is it possible to grow your business during the pandemic if you’re not selling masks or sanitizers?

Ted Seifert, Ecwid merchant and business owner of Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants, proves you can: he has grown sales 35% year over year, all during the quarantine!

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Starting and Running a Wine Shop

My name is Ted Seifert, and I run Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants, Downtown Bellingham’s exclusive wine shop, that focuses on small artisan producers from the Northwest as well as a strong global mix.

After 30 years in the wine industry, I decided it was time to get off the road and scale it down. I connected with a long time customer, Diane Jones, who felt the same way and we partnered up in 2013. That’s how Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants started.

Ted and Diane in front of their store

At the time our concept was focusing on being the sole wine shop in town and to be a brick and mortar retailer.

We have no desire to conquer the wine world. We are happy with being the only exclusive wine shop in the area.

For the first 5 years it was just myself and my partner Diane Jones. We were able to grow and build without having the cost of labor. Eventually, we came to a place where we needed extra help. Before COVID-19, we had two full-time employees, and currently scaled back to just one full-time employee.

Any industry has its specifics that make running a business challenging. For wine selling, it’s cash flow, cash flow, cash flow. It’s very difficult in our industry for a couple of reasons. We don’t get terms on purchasing and everything is cash on delivery. That’s what makes it difficult at times to be tight with budgeting. Many times we purchase items that only come in once a year and we have to invest in those.

At the time, our weekly numbers may not match that dollar amount, but we have to make it work. Our success with that comes from really focusing on weekly budgets and staying with them.

Building Reputation and Community

Over the years, we’ve achieved a lot. Our major milestone is keeping our doors open as long as we have. We have built brands for decades and we knew it would take time. We had to build a reputation first.

It took us about 5 years to gain confidence and a reputation. Now, we just continue to build off that foundation.

Besides our rich selection of wine, we’re proud of the diverse community we built around our shop, with customers in their early 20’s to seniors in retirement. We like supporting families and farmers, people we have connected over our years in the industry.

We love our customers and they love us back! As a way to capture long term customers, we started our own Wine Club, which has been hugely successful. Many clubs serve as a margin booster. That can bite you — customers know how much things cost. But we have a very little ratio on customers quitting. In fact, we gained far more new members than cancellations since COVID-19 started. We didn’t expect that.

Our strategy is to give them more than what they paid for which differentiates us from competitors.

Going Online Because of the Pandemic

Our plan was never to be an online experience. While we did develop a webpage from the beginning. We mainly were focused on personal experience — that’s why people came to us.

And with the arrival of COVID-19 we had to change our strategy. We immediately closed for the safety of ourselves, employees, and customers. And then waited to see how things played out.

During the downtime, we realized online sales was the only avenue. At the beginning, our tech guy, John Meloy, started to prep the custom program development to sell online. However, we were shocked looking at the cost and needed an alternative option. So he researched e-commerce platforms and felt Ecwid was the best choice.

Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants online store

When we went online with Ecwid and Clover, we were able to make more purchases. We like how Ecwid and Clover integrate and work together — we only started in April, but our sales are up 35% from the previous year in a time of trouble.

Clover POS is a point-of-sale system that allows you to sell in-person from physical locations. With Ecwid and Clover POS integration, you can track all your digital and physical sales in one place and your inventory and order data sync across online and offline channels. Learn more about Ecwid and Clover for e-commerce.

Promoting the Wine Shop

We use several ways to promote our store, and feel our best platform is the direct to consumer weekly email. Our approach is “don’t go overboard with email.” Once a week we pick a “wine of the week” and highlight it along with several new arrivals. We also offer menu pairings with one of the new arrivals.

newsletter from Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants featuring Wine of the Week

As for other promotion tools, we also use Instagram and Facebook. Over the years, we’ve tried print and radio, but have since stopped going that direction.

The wine shop announces re-opening on their Instagram

All Business Owners Should…

…Love their job and have passion for what they do. I’ve been in the wine business for decades, and wouldn’t have made it this far if the industry wasn’t right for me.

That brings me to my next point: experience, experience, experience. You must know your industry. Both me and my partner had in-depth knowledge of the wine business when we launched our wine shop.

And lastly, cash. Make sure you have enough.

Also read: How to Pay Yourself When You Own a Business

Inspired? Start Your Own Business Today

Ted’s story is proof that even during tough times you can succeed as long as you have passion for your business and the right tools at your disposal. Do you have an inspiring story of your own? Send it to blog@ecwid.com and we might share it with the Ecwid blog readers!

If you’re ready to start your own business, download the blueprint below where we cover all the stages of an online store launch, from choosing a name to running your first advertising campaign.

Ecwid E-commerce Business Blueprint

Your guide to launching an e-commerce business from choosing a niche to growing your sales

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About the author

Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.

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I’m so impressed I’ve recommended it to my website clients and am now using it for my own store along with four others for which I webmaster. Beautiful coding, excellent top-notch support, great documentation, fantastic how-to videos. Thank you so much Ecwid, you rock!
I’ve used Ecwid and I love the platform itself. Everything is so simplified it’s insane. I love how you have different options to choose shipping carriers, to be able to put in so many different variants. It’s a pretty open e-commerce gateway.
Easy to use, affordable (and a free option if starting off). Looks professional, many templates to select from. The App is my favorite feature as I can manage my store right from my phone. Highly recommended 👌👍
I like that Ecwid was easy to start and to use. Even for a person like me, without any technical background. Very well written help articles. And the support team is the best for my opinion.
For everything it has to offer, ECWID is incredibly easy to set up. Highly recommend! I did a lot of research and tried about 3 other competitors. Just try ECWID and you'll be online in no time.

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