Lishe had an opportunity to speak to Woolworths spokesperson: Rebecca Constable, Woolworths Specialist Wine Buyer.

Exclusive Lishe Interview:

  • Tell a bit about the W Cellar, its creation and how it sets itself apart from what other retailers have to offer? 

WCellar is the umbrella under which all our customers’ alcoholic beverage needs are housed, whether it be in the form of product or service. It encompasses a new online experience, featuring an upgraded landing page, where we hope customers will find it easy to navigate, stay informed and make a selection that suits their taste. We have also introduced a new online tool call ‘My Wine Match’. This is a quiz of five questions and, based on the answers, customers will receive a recommendation of six wines matched to their palette profile. It’s a fun and engaging way to assist in making a wine choice!

  • We also have formed a community through our WCellar wine club, which is free to join and includes benefits such as access to monthly vouchers and virtual tastings with the latest news on the grapevine.

In terms of bricks and mortar we have opened our new WCellar concept store – a place which highlights our wine offer but also completes our customers’ shop with a selection of beers and spirits – at Nicolway Bryanston shopping centre in Johannesburg.

  • What can customers expect from the W Cellar, in terms of product?

WCellar at Nicolway offers our complete range of quality wines. We have added an edited selection of premium wines and Champagnes to our wine selection but our focus is to ensure we have wines that suit all pockets and tastes. The main difference is that we have added beers and spirits, which means it’s a one-stop shop for all your drinks. It is a curated range of customer favourites, whether you are a gin lover or a whiskey connoisseur.

  • Will Woolworths be considering more sustainable trends, sustainable brands that package wine differently (thoughts on bag-in-a-box wine), especially with the effects of Covid 19 and with the environment in mind?

Sustainability is one of our core brand values, encompassed by our Good Business Journey, and we therefore invest heavily in new product development and work hard to bring new, innovative products to market as often as possible that align with these principles. Our branded 2L boxed wine range is an example of innovation which came about as a result of COVID-19 impacts. We have collaborated with local, sustainable, quality brands (Diemersdal, Spier, Beyerskloof, DeWetshof, Kleine Zalze, Pierre Jourdan, and La Motte) to bring our customers their favourites in a boxed format. This enabled us to assist our suppliers as well as customers with a great value, only at Woolies product offering.

  • With the move to a more digital world, what can Woolworths and WCellar customers look forward to, in terms digital access and product interaction?

With the growth in ecommerce, we recently launched WCellar online. It’s a platform which offers customers digital access to an expertly curated wine selection, wine know-how and is the hub of the WCellar Wine Club. The WCellar Wine Club, went virtual during lockdown and to date has hosted 25 virtual events, including tastings with David Higgs, Moses Magwaza, Restaurant Mosaic’s head sommelier, Joseph Tongai Dhafana, La Colombe’s head sommelier and Spier and Springfield wine estates, to name a few. The WCellar Wine Club offers a virtual community space for like-minded people. The club is free to join and new members are welcomed with a R75 off voucher. Membership enables access to exclusive monthly discounts, event invitations, monthly virtual tastings with winemakers and industry experts as well as insider wine know-how.

Alongside the launch of WCellar, we have also introduced ‘My Wine Match’, a new digital tool offering an innovative approach to online shopping. It enables shoppers to explore Woolworths’ extensive world-class selections of wines and receive customised, curated wine recommendations and special deals from the comfort of their own homes. My Wine Match creates a truly interactive environment to support all wine drinkers, from novice to knowledgeable connoisseurs. In what is often an overwhelming and intimidating environment, the tool gives customers the confidence to explore the flavours and aromas they enjoy. The experience also offers personalised wine recommendations for an individual’s specific palate and provides all levels of wine drinkers with the information needed to simplify and customise their wine-purchasing journey.

WCellar is a natural extension of our wine offering and provides helpful solutions to those who know what they like when it comes to wine, as well as the enthusiastic novice drinker who is looking to try something new. We are working to become a one-stop shop for the most exciting wines in the country, and we hope that our customers find our new virtual experiences educational, entertaining, and fun.

  • It is clear, increasing consumer interest in health, wellness and mindfulness is shaping the beverage industry (internationally and locally) as it seeks to quench this thirst for holistic balance. What is Woolworths thinking around that and will we see the offerings in the WCellar mimicking that?

Consumer interest in holistic health and wellness is shown via the huge growth in the non-alcoholic drinks market. A market which has only seen increased focus and growth as we navigate the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our lifestyles. We launched our Woolies De-alc. wine range in July 2020: a range of cultivar specific (first to market in South African retail) de-alcoholised wines which contain less than 0.5% alcohol and are a delicious alternative to a version containing alcohol. The range includes De-alc. Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Moscato Rosé, and sparkling Rosé. We also stock Lautus, a branded range of de-alcoholised wines, along with Allure sparkling which is a fabulous bubbles alternative, and Ice Tropez Zero, a peach flavoured drink that’s a great cocktail alternative.

  • How will Woolworths and the WCellar showcase what South Africa has to offer, especially with focus on inward trade and the thoughts on job loss since the alcohol bans during Covid 19?

Our purpose is to create the difference which inspires and cares. We work directly in partnership with our suppliers to bring our consumers quality house brands, exclusive collaborations with leading wineries and specially curated selections. Our wine offering is over 90% locally sourced. We are passionate about showcasing what the local wine industry has to offer, driven by sustainability and responsibility.


Images: Shavan Rahim 

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