Combining passion and business is something many strive for, especially when that passion involves wine (hey, us too). As the founder and CEO of eCELLAR, an ecommerce platform for wineries, Paul has combined his love of wine with creating and owning a business. He has built a next generation all-in-one ecommerce platform for the wine industry. We’ve worked with Paul Thienes’s eCELLAR platform on the Pride Mountain Vineyards and Lombardi Wines websites. We also wrote a blog post about that integration here.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Paul and learn more about him and eCELLAR. Here’s what I learned about:
Purpose – Helping the Wineries
Paul is clear on the purpose of eCELLAR: it’s dedicated to helping winery clients. The business primarily exists for wineries, rather than end-consumers (although consumers play a part too). Everything they do at eCELLAR is rooted in helping the wineries themselves. As Paul says, “We work to empower our clients to do more with less”.
Business in the Winery Industry
Every job has its pros and cons. Paul finds one of his favorite pieces of his job is the ability to listen to others and come up with creative solutions for their needs. However, he tells me that it’s still difficult to translate winery needs into usable technology. Just because you can dream it doesn’t mean it can be built (but wouldn’t that be nice?).
When I asked Paul what he would do differently if he could go back in time, he said he wished he had a marketing guru of sorts. With the way the industry works, software is at the core of success, but that doesn’t take away from the possibility of some exciting marketing ventures.
eCELLAR’s 3 Pillars of Growth
In my conversation with Paul, he told me about eCELLAR’s 3 pillars of growth. The first pillar is the platform itself. Paul strives to continually improve and extend the eCELLAR platform to better meet the clients’ needs.
eCELLAR’s second pillar is customer service. Paul says there’s a real disconnect between software platforms and their customer service within the industry. eCELLAR works to expand its ability to service the platform as well as help clients use the platform. For example, eCELLAR is a unique vendor in this industry to offer live phone support. This can be especially useful for wineries as they’re focus is on the wine, not the technology and it can serve as a big time-saver.
Market expansion is eCELLAR’s third and final pillar. Paul is working to expand eCELLAR to a wider range of locations. While they currently service Northern California, Paul would like to expand eCELLAR to specifically service SoCal, Oregon, Washington and the East Coast.
The Future of Wine and eCELLAR
“The wine experience is expanding for the consumer. The wine consumer is evolving based on their age, taste profile and budget. However, this creates challenges for the wineries. Especially now, a lot of them are finding themselves short-staffed,” Paul explained to me.
For wineries, keeping up with day-to-day business operations and following the desires of the evolving consumer requires balance. Paul noted that most wineries tend to use a variety of vendors to fulfill their needs, rather than turning to an all-in-one solution like eCELLAR. eCELLAR’s all-in-one platform allows wineries to avoid the disconnect between multiple vendors, especially when technical or logistical issues arise. While some wineries may think that piecemealing vendors and getting the “best of the best” for each category is the right approach, it can create muddy communication and unnecessarily complicate things. eCELLAR can bridge this gap by providing high-quality solutions as an all-in-one platform.
As far as the future of eCELLAR is concerned, Paul has some exciting things in the works. He just launched a QR code feature as more and more places are making a permanent push to “touchless” options post-COVID. It also launched Push Pay for wineries to give customers a touch-free payment option. The platform has launched a beta feature, pending general release, called eCELLAR Multi-Ship. This feature allows one credit card to be charged for multiple orders using a spreadsheet. Think prepping virtual tastings for multiple people, corporate gifting, etc.
At Culture Foundry, we’ve found the eCELLAR platform to be a powerful solution for our winery clients, so it was great to have a conversation with the person who created it in the first place! Now we just need to plan a visit to one of the beautiful wineries…for business purposes, right?
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