Growing stronger than ever amidst Covid -19: A Little Sharing
As is the present circumstance, COVID-19 has taken a toll worldwide on small businesses in the wine industry. With restrictions such as lockdowns and quarantines becoming a part of everyday life, lower footfall and in-store expenditure becoming normal stance, Singapore is further affected by alcohol restrictions (after 10:30pm), limited social gatherings and social distancing rules implemented on weddings, events and conventions. Given that these events are pertinent to prominent players in the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants), wine distribution businesses based in Singapore have been affected as a result. One such wine business in Singapore, Asia Wine Network, has been hit hard and can digress with the issue at hand. Business owner of Asia Wine Network (AWN) Singapore, Roderic Proniewski, weighs in on the issue:
“Where our trade customers are concerned, Hotels and Restaurants which used to order fairly large volumes have seen their doors shut and capacity limits put on their businesses. This has left us with drastically reduced demand from these core customers.
On the direct-to-consumer side of things, we can no longer conduct wine events or tastings like we used to due to social distancing protocols, which have limited the number of people allowed on our premises at a time. This poses a challenge as for our customers to discover new wines, they need a wine expert or sommelier to inform them about the background, aromatics and tasting notes of the wine. This is crucial for our customers as they need to truly understand the finesse of their wine in order to decide if the wine is for them.”
So how exactly is Asia Wine Network, a key wine industry player in Singapore, still maintaining its business presence in spite of the problems they encounter due to COVID?
WOW-ing (World Of Wines) Customers Everyday
Carrying wines from 12 wine-producing countries at present with more to come, Asia Wine Network imports the very best of each region to provide a comprehensive offering for its customers. But with the onslaught of COVID-19, it, like many other businesses, has seen some of its business slowdown in the past few months. But this has not affected the confidence of its owners, Roderic Proniewski and Sally Ong.
“If anything, the challenges that COVID-19 has put on our business has provided more inspiration to re-invigorate our business practices. We have been busy strategizing and restructuring our business to bring an enhanced experience to our customers whilst maintaining the integrity of our wine knowledge and expertise. We treasure the wanderlusting nature of our customersand wish to impart to them AWN vinology with more wine varieties from the World Of Wine”.
So how exactly is Asia Wine Network reconstructing its wine business to be better placed in the COVID-19-affected wine industry of today?
Moving Online: Social Media And Ecommerce Adoption
“Given the digital revolution of today, we thought it prudent to move our wine business into the e-commerce space” says Sally.
“Through a newfound digital marketing strategy and restructured marketing department, we are truly expanding the sales funnel and reaching a newfound customer base like never before.”
The pandemic has provided the digitization catalyst for many businesses, and AWN is no exception. In response to the pandemic instigated headwinds and to better develop their direct-to-consumer offering, Awn.com.sg was launched in the tail-end of 2020, providing an easy guide on their comprehensive wine offerings to help wine consumers to select the right wine(s) to suit their palate and requirements.
Having a strong presence on social media has particularly boosted Asia Wine Network’s reach to a millennial audience, mostly working professionals based in Singapore between the ages of 18-35. By publishing posts on Facebook, Instagram, Medium and even LinkedIn, Asia Wine Network seeks to diversify their consumer base. AWN particularly caters to AWN V-membership with membership privilege offers like wines offered at member prices; member discounts and earn V-Point for every $ 1 spent etc. This appeals to the end-consumer whilst continuing to service trade customers. Call-to-action mediums such as online quizzes and Instagram stories have proved an effective tool to engage their online audience.
“You can follow us at @asiawinenetwork or like our page on Facebook to learn more about our wines, their aromas and respective tasting notes. It’s really engaging and you might even spot a wine for yourself! At Asia Wine Network we are all about matching wines to the personas of our customers. So social media really helps us out in that respect.”
Still The Key Player In Wine Supply to Restaurants, Bars And So On
Asia Wine Network is no stranger to helping out other businesses in the food and beverage industry to craft and refine/re-define their wine list. Given founder Roderic’s extensive wine education, this aspect of business development has been a sincere effort for many reasons.
“I have been a wine judge for 11 years. Having the final say on our customer’s wine lists truly helps to cement a working relationship that can often last decades. This concept is so exclusive to AWN that we provide staff training (for F&B clients) centred around it to help to promote wines to the end-consumer. It’s all about questioning and giving a ready ear to hear out the pain points and improvements trade customers need with regards to their wine menu. I personally believe no 2 clients are the same, each needs their wine list carefully tailored to best complement their menu and concept.”
Through this strategy, Asia Wine Network has found that it can expand and retain its clientele progressively. In return, their clients profit from AWN’s specialized wine services and can subsequently deliver an enhanced offering to their customers. Being a small or multi chain restaurant group, AWN believes in wine partnership and personal customer service rather than simply being a wine supplier. We provide personalized customer wine services to each and every individual F&B client to suit its own concept and requirements.
Rethinking Shop Décor: It’s The Thought That Counts
“When Sally and I were conceptualizing Asia Wine Network and its premise, we decided that our customer should have an immersive experience when they enter our shop. Nobody likes tons of wine facts being spouted at them as that could get boring. We want our customer to have fun while shopping for wine,” enthuses Roderic.
This is evident by the fresh and crisp wooden aromas from barrels and cases wafting through the store. Apart from this, chic yet engaging posters about wine are scattered among the shelves. Some are quirky, others educative on the various wines the store carries in terms of wine tasting notes, aromas and food pairings.
“Our unique offering to customers is our WOW (World of Wines) ideology. We take pride in the fact that we can provide knowledge on our wines spanning various wine regions and countries. This is the thesis behind our Vinology (V@44) approach. By selling our wines with this quirky yet personalized approach, our customers feel warm and welcomed in the store. Whether Wine-Experts or Wine-Novices, they feel more at ease to buy our wine. Our offering is structured in a way that is accessible even to new wine connoisseurs, our AWN wine style allows them to discover different flavour profiles and find their favourites in no time! Long-time wine lovers need not fret, with wines from 13 countries and over 30 varietals, they are sure to discover something new each time they shop with us.
Indeed our wine shop welcomes enquiries for small & personalised lifestyle events or workshops like floral arrangements using wine bottles, hand-painting on wine bottles and using corks to create art pieces. All of this comes with wine appreciation sessions during workshops or seminars to please everyone” Sally says.
The Bubbly Take Away
COVID-19 has given way to a rocky forecast and unstable future. But AWN is certain that it can navigate the uncertainty.
“Wine is not only a fine art all by itself. It has become a lifestyle! Making or drinking it are not activities we take for granted in this industry. It is a long, complex process that brings a refined product to the palates of the customer. Indeed, we face a few problems at the moment which we think other wineries and industry players can digress with. Business is sometimes slow but is seeing improvement thanks to the little improvements we have made to truly carve out a niche for ourselves. We are sure we, and other neighbours in our field, will continue to stay strong, safe, united and healthy in the long run, come what come may!”
Asia Wine Network is a quaint little wine shop along a lesser-known street amidst the busy Singapore financial district called North Canal Road. Near the Chinatown area, step into our store and be greeted by our friendly staff whilst coming across a tall, sturdy English-speaking European gentleman, Roderic Proniewski with his signature, strong French accent! We carry wines from 13 wine countries and 52 famed wine regions and offer exclusive V-Club membership and doorstep delivery when you purchase our wines. Find out more at awn.com.sg.