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Unique “wine categorisation” service online

Unique “wine categorisation” service online

New Zealand’s iconic Fine Wine Online website is taking a step further, pioneering new ground as it adds to the existing wine sales, news, education and commentary services that have made it enormously successful in terms of both commercial achievement and awards.

Now the website offers wine lovers an online opportunity to experiment with new wines and broaden horizons, with the sort of customised attention similar to what the Fine Wine Delivery Company offers personal shoppers in its midtown Auckland wine warehouse.

What managing director Jeff Poole describes as the “unique wine categorisation” system is being launched on September 3rd with six special wine offers and an incentive draw that features an alluring prize very much in keeping with the enjoyment of fine wine. The revolutionary new service was designed by Poole who set up Fine Wine Online, New Zealand’s first interactive wine website, in 1998 and has seen it through its evolution to today’s sophisticated, multi-faceted operation. The addition of the wine categorisation service has come with an extensive revamp of Fine Wine Online which Poole is confident will enhance the shopping experience, as well as offering improved imaging. Taking Poole’s ideas and requirements from concept to reality has been the responsibility of Straker Interactive, a global provider of enterprise-wide web-based content management software and services. Straker Interactive’s headquarters are in New Zealand, with offices in Sydney, London and Munich.

Poole explained that Fine Wine Online had always endeavoured to extend the concept of one-to-one wine sales and service from the shop floor to wine enthusiasts nationally. And internationally: the company has customers around the globe, including many New Zealand expatriates.

“The vision and functionality for the customised software was born out of an idea to offer shoppers a similar level of quality guidance and advice to what they would receive were they physically shopping in the Fine Wine Delivery Company,” said Poole. The site is renowned for its detailed but user-friendly reviews, always staffwritten – the team tastes more than 4000 wines annually. “When a customer talks directly with us in-store, seeking advice as to new wine styles they might enjoy, we inquire as to what they’ve been enjoying. Now the cutting-edge technology we’re introducing on the website allows us to offer the same quality of recommendation online.”

The categorisation process is carried out at the time of tasting. While writing their reviews – which remain a core aspect of the revamped website – staff members categorise each wine with a variety code and assess it across four key criteria: sweetness, fruit, oak, body. Finally, the wine automatically falls within relative price spans to ensure it is being categorised and compared with its peers.

“Now we can offer the Internet wine lover the chance to experiment and broaden their wine experiences with complete confidence,” said Poole.

“Ensuring all our wines are top quality is our first priority but it is almost as important to assess wine style consistently. I’ve often see international award-winning wines returned by customers because they were simply not to their liking.

“A wine may be judged the best in the world in its variety or category but if it is not your style then it is not the best wine for you.”

Prior to developing the categorisation software, Poole commissioned an external audit of the site, including a full SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. From this came new imaging, fresh new colours and a redesigning of all pages to improve download time and ease of use, along with the addition of a live shopping basket. This stays on screen throughout all movement on the site, allowing customers to stay aware of shopping spend without the constant clicking back and forth between windows that is characteristic of so many other online shopping sites.

The shopping process has also been simplified, with fewer steps to complete purchase. And live inventory functionality ensures any wine offered for sale online is available in stock.

“The new site represents a significantly improved shopping experience for wine lovers in terms of download speed, ease of use and site navigation,” said Poole.

“With the ultimate and unique wine categorisation software tool, our customers don’t have to leave their office or home to get the quality of advice or service they experience at the Fine Wine Delivery Company wine warehouse.”

There is no extra charge for the additional online services.

In preparation for the launch, the company has extended its tasting operations to “significantly increase ranging,” said Poole, and, in addition to the six special wine offers (“brilliant in terms of quality and pricing,” according to Poole), the enhanced website is being celebrated with a superb prize draw.

Every case purchase during September will double as an entry in the draw for a six day, five night wine trip for two through the Hawkes Bay and Martinborough. Among the many memorable features are a night at the Cellar Master’s Cottage at Craggy Range and a $150 voucher to be redeemed at the Terroir restaurant, followed by two nights in guest units at Kim Crawford’s winery in Te Awanga and lunch at the Clearview winery restaurant.

Winery visits are being arranged in both regions. Ground transport will be as stylish as the accommodation and meals, with the winners touring in the latest Volkswagen Touareg 4WD. This luxury wagon, which featured recently in a widely publicised Fine Wine Delivery Company promotion to launch the latest of its “discovery wines”, is being supplied by Giltrap Prestige, itself a longtime customer of the Fine Wine Delivery Company.

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