EUGENIO MORALES

Mexico 2021 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Vinoteca has grown its e-commerce offering over the COVID-19 period, yet sees everlasting value in its brick-and-mortar experiences.

Eugenio Morales
BIOGRAPHY

Eugenio Morales, CEO of Grupo Vinoteca, has over 15 years of experience in the wine and spirits world, where he and his team are in constant search to celebrate and enrich their customers' daily experiences. Vinoteca Mexico is a 100% Mexican company with over 40 years in the industry and 27 physical stores in 10 cities.

How did the pandemic accelerate or impact demand for both your physical stores and e-commerce platform?

We have been working with e-commerce in the last four to five years, but in the last 12-16 months we put in more effort and made more investments in the platform and also the structure of talent. This past year demand has grown over 4,000% compared to 2019. The base was low to start with, but with COVID-19 we learned that we can do many things such as cooking, wine tasting, and mixology via Zoom and other platforms. People have noticed they can be at home with quality products but pay less than in restaurants. We have been seeing this trend for about 18 months, and we believe it is here to stay. Fortunately, we do not encounter issues like card cloning, although it is a common problem in Mexico in e-commerce. We have adapted quickly so our clients can have an omnichannel option; they can buy online, they can go to our stores, or they can place orders with our stores via WhatsApp, and we can deliver in less than an hour. With all the technology converging together, such as IoT, virtual reality, and e-commerce, we are trying to be on the top of the wave in that sense.

How will this shift your priorities in terms of physical stores and your online business?

We are a 100% family-owned business, which helps us be more patient in terms of the capital that is invested. We strive to think of our investments in the long run, so we definitely made a shift in strategic investments and allocations for this year. Instead of opening five stores, we will open three and allocated more capital to e-commerce, both the technological tools and the talent, which is extremely important for this tool to be successful.

Do you see stores becoming more of a showcase, a place for consumers to look at the bottles and products before they order online?

Our stores are made to be an experience for the customer. When we had the curfew, it was an issue because our customers like to visit our stores. They like to talk to our salespeople, ask for product recommendations, or examine the bottles. Brick-and-mortar stores will not disappear, because in the end we all like to go out; however, it is clear that omnichannel is the future of retail. We are learning to better enhance the experience for consumers, even if they buy online. We want to give them access to the same portfolio, prices, and promotions.

What are the challenges of competing in the spirits market online considering that you are competing with Mercadolibre, Amazon, and other big e-commerce platforms?

For the brick-and-mortar store, one of our advantages is proximity and convenience. In addition, we are constantly training our staff, who we call wine advisors. Now, it is more complicated to do, but we typically send them to wineries in France, the US, and around Mexico, because practical knowledge is important. Our layout is different from supermarkets; we are based on table wine and spirits, and we also have a deli. We also have nice packaging for gifts. We have a more extensive portfolio from these categories. Supermarkets have five or six brands, while we have more than 70. We also have exclusive brands from Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, US, and some in Mexico. In e-commerce, it is similar; we have a wider portfolio and more quality products.