Every year, we are always amazed at how much the wine industry changes—and at the ways in which wineries and their partners find ways to innovate. 2023 was no exception.
What we are seeing is shifting patterns, including shifts in small parcel carriers, consumer purchase behavior, job creation, the use of technology, and more. We also see a lot of opportunity for savvy wineries going into 2024.
So what were some of these key patterns in 2023 that will influence how the wine industry will (and should) react in 2024?
Small Parcel Carriers Lend Stability to DTC
It’s no secret that DTC wine shipping is disproportionately dependent upon small parcel carriers. So it was great news when UPS came to terms with its drivers union and avoided a major shut down this past summer. Meanwhile, Fedex is consolidating its ground and air business into one operating company, with an anticipated completion date of June 2024. The long term stability for UPS, combined with efficiency improvements for FedEx, is certainly good for the wine industry.
Job Prospects Are Evening Out, Hiring Will Be Difficult
The job market broadly has been a roller-coaster since the pandemic: First there was a severe lack of employees to fill needed jobs, and then there was a pull back on the jobs offered as business adjusted. And while the broader job market still faces many challenges, the number of wine industry jobs are still at historically high levels, though the total number has declined significantly.
This means that, with the changes to the labor pool that came with the pandemic, hiring in the industry is still going to be somewhat difficult. All the more reason to invest in hiring and training new employees in 2024!
Hidden Signs of Opportunity in Wine Industry Reports
When we look at the Silicon Valley Bank 2023 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Survey (SVB) and the Sovos/ShipCompliant Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report (Sovos), we can’t help but see a lot of opportunity in the data presented.
For example, wineries are still figuring out how to use their growing mountain of data to their own advantage. The first ones that do so will gain an edge in 2024 and beyond. We also see some signs that there is actually a growing enthusiasm for wine: Club sales are up, and consumers are still engaging with digital marketing efforts such as social media and email. All in all, this bodes well for 2024…if wineries are open to what is possible and are willing to be innovative and technology driven.
AI Has the Buzz, but Awaits Further Innovation and Simplification
Everywhere you turn, you hear the buzz around AI. People are using it to create marketing materials, vet their decision making, better manage their customer database, and more. But what really does it mean for the wine industry? Our industry is traditionally slow to adopt leading edge technology, so it’s doubtful we will see much change in 2024. The real test will come when wine technology providers “bring it mainstream,” making adoption simple and straightforward. Innovation in this area could ultimately lead to AI recommendations for wine club selections at the consumer level. This could accelerate the customization trend for wine clubs—but might also make fulfillment more difficult, especially when using multiple facilities.
So What Should Wineries Be Doing Right Now?
Now is the time to gather your year-end data and use that information to plan ahead. It’s also a good idea to get your various partners involved—including your fulfillment partner. With their help, you can gain greater insights into your shipping and wine club data and prepare for the coming year.
And if your fulfillment partner is not doing that for you…perhaps it’s time we had a conversation. Reach out and we’ll take care of you.