Geerlings & Wade - Cutting Through the Vines (2,787 words)
"Meanwhile, Geerlings & Wade controls these functions from the wine sourcing down to the delivery in some cases."
Delivering in Various Ways
The catalog business was founded on the notion that in various situations, people prefer to shop by mail—even for a highly specialized item like wine. So Geerlings & Wade makes sure customers get the information they need, whether from the Web site, www.geerwade.com, a phone rep or a warehouse worker who doubles as a retail salesperson.
Since not all employees are wine connoisseurs when hired, the company takes care to bring them up to speed. "Our people are wine lovers, but they don't put on any airs about what they do," says head of operations Kober.
Most of this advising is by phone, he says. About 98 percent of orders are direct, with 13 percent of those direct sales made through the Internet. Kober says one of the reasons the company has so few orders placed in person is the remote locations of the sites, which is necessitated by the need for large warehouse space. Yet some customers still wish to see the labels and feel the bottles, so they come in, he says.
Most mail order companies have two or three large warehouses because of economies of scale. Typically, it wouldn't make sense to have 16. But because of the legal constraints of selling wine, Geerlings & Wade must.
The company turns its special circumstances into an advantage in terms of competing with other online or direct retailers, in that typically it ships an order from inventory located in the same state where the customer lives.
"So as soon as we pick and pack the order, and it's picked up by a third-party courier or delivered by us, it arrives a lot faster than if product has to be shipped from California to New Jersey, all the way across the country," says Pearce. Kober adds that it's typical for a customer in the state of New York to have a product ordered on Wednesday delivered on Friday.