2016 was indeed a busy year for us at Copper Peak, and we don’t anticipate 2017 being any different. That said, it is still well worth our time to review what happened in 2016, both here and in the industry at large. Doing so might just give us some glimmers of what to expect going into the new year.
Wine and fulfillment are both niche industries. So the area where they meet is niche squared. Still, we saw some interesting things in the tea leaves. For example:
- Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club, signaling a giant move toward the subscription services space. (We reviewed some of the lessons to be learned in the link below)
- DTC sales were on the rise, with many smaller wineries and a few large ones getting in on the action too. Indeed, Copper Peak is currently absorbing the data from Silicon Valley Banks’ latest report on the industry, which we will look at in a forthcoming post.
- A complaint filed in federal court in Illinois might help end state prohibitions on wine shipping. Likewise, Michigan’s governor was pressured to veto a flawed wine shipping bill. While these laws were really aimed at retailers, not the broader winery DTC market, these legal actions could bode well in terms of attitudes toward wine shipping.
- A wave of mergers and acquisitions hit U.S. wineries.
What these stories tell us is that DTC is becoming a standard way for consumers to get products; moreover, the pressure is mounting on the wine business to do the same. That said, this is leading to a more challenging and often changing regulatory environment.
Focus on Temperature Control and Weather Holds
This past year we wrote several pieces on keeping summer deliveries cool, including a piece specifically on deciding on weather holds. We’ve heard a lot of angst from customers about this very issue. We also found that not many customers were up on all the options out there for shipping wine, food, and other temperature-sensitive products over the hot summer months. So we tried in 2016 to provide a little education and help folks make those critical decisions. We’ll likely revisit the topic before summer 2017!
Flash Sales and Subscription Services
New business models for DTC wine sales were a huge topic in 2016. For example:
- We took a look at the history and development of flash sales in the wine space, considering the economics that made flash sales possible.
- We published a white paper looking at subscription services across a number of industries—and the lessons to be learned from them.
- We conducted a user group panel at the ShipCompliant 2016 DIRECT Conference on subscription services, featuring industry experts. This led to a summary blog post as well as an extensive white paper.
- Having done the above, we couldn’t resist comparing flash sales with subscription services, too.
Needless to say, it will be interesting seeing how these models morph, evolve, and improve in 2017. We expect to see more hybrid models being used, too.
Toward the end of 2016, we became especially interested in what, exactly, “craft” is, and what it means to have craftsmanship fulfillment. This topic is near and dear to our hearts, given that we take what we do as craftsmanship fulfillment for industries that know craft when they see it.
While we’ve seen more and more of our competitors talk about things like white glove service (a phrase we applied to wine logistics first), we are not aware of anyone putting the same emphasis on craft. We find this odd, given that craft is everywhere these days, from the Makers’ Movement to STEAM education to artisanal everything-under-the-sun. We here at Copper Peak really do feel like we are spanning the gap between logistics (which, at times, focuses too narrowly on efficiency and automation) and the world of craftsmanship.
It will be exciting to see how that gap is further bridged in 2017. We hope to start out of the gate strong, with a full report on implementing white glove service in an organization. Keep an eye out for it!
And as always, thank you for reading this past year. Here’s to a prosperous new one!
The Team at Copper Peak Logistics