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commerce meets community Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

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Online Retailer Empowers Consumers with Wine Information & Social Connection
An Interview with the CEO of Bottlenotes.com

Imagine a single place where you could easily buy wines, talk about them with friends old and new, discover ones that perfectly suit your taste, and then share your discoveries in the form of gifts to others.  Welcome to Bottlenotes.  Not your run-of-the mill online wine retailer, it's one that provides customers with an entire suite of services devoted to making the buying of wine not only versatile, but entertaining, engaging, and essentially effortless.  Having first learned of Bottlenotes during the 2009 Wine 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I was instantly struck with the innovation of its unique business model and soon thereafter charmed with the appeal of its slick website.  Intrigued, I decided to find out more — straight from the source.  I contacted Bottlenotes founder and CEO Alyssa Rapp, who spoke to me from her office in Palo Alto, California, where she shared a brief history of what led up to her company's inception, along with a discussion of some of its exciting and truly distinct features, and finally some insights into how a younger generation of consumers is buying wine and socializing in its context.  Ever more interestingly, she presented some of her broader views on the state of the wine industry and how the evolution of e-commerce will markedly influence the future direction of wine sales and marketing.


NM:  What is Bottlenotes and how is it different from other online wine retailers?

AR:  Bottlenotes.com is a destination where you can come to learn about, share information about, and/or buy wine from boutique and estate wineries around the world.  What makes us different is a multitude of things.  First off is the social side of selling; we really are a place where commerce meets community.  But what also makes us different is how we approach both the individual commerce and community functions that we serve.  On the commerce side, we're doing things differently [from typical wine retail sites].  One feature is our personalized sommelier service that, with patent-pending matching technology, enables us send you wine tailored to your personal taste.  We've also launched the first national wine registry a wedding and gift registry for wines — because we learned that our target customer wanted to register for cases and gift packs of wine, though [until now] there'd been no place online to do that.  But the selling that we do is primarily for the new-to-intermediate wine enthusiast and we try to target our offering to that customer, feeling that we do it better than most [online retailers] for that demographic, the Millenial generation of consumers.

"We learned that our target customer wanted to register for cases and gift packs of wine, though [until now] there'd been no place online to do that."

On the community side — while there are a lot of places online to get tasting notes or connect with communities of people (like Facebook) — what we try to do is to help create a community around wine, and also to come up with clever ways to be a source of wine information for that community.  The Daily Sip™ is the best example of that; it's what we hope will become the Daily Candy of wine.  Through it, we publish a fun and interesting bit of wine information everyday: Mondays are Featured Winemakers, Tuesdays are Regional Spotlights, Wednesdays are Wine of the Week, Thursdays are Celebrity Sips [featuring stars like] Gwenyth Paltrow and Gina Davis, and Fridays are Wine Tips & Gadgets.  In the end, we know that new and intermediate wine enthusiasts, really of all ages, come to Bottlenotes.com to learn about, share information about, or buy wine — so, whether we're selling or educating, that's what we really try to keep in mind.



 

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