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Majestic Wine – Retail Strategy



Majestic Wine has come a long way from its humble beginnings in Wood Green in 1980. As with many retail categories, competitors exist on all sides, and the wine category has been particularly contested over recent years.

Majestic has grown in tandem with UK drinking habits, benefitting from the explosion in travel abroad, the growth of the leisure sector and the replacement of the pub with the lounge as the drinking venue of choice. However, far from being a passenger on this journey, Majestic has often supported or even defined the market; developing the proposition in line with customer trends whilst maintaining the values and purpose that sit at the heart of its business.

When I asked colleagues about their experiences of Majestic, two things stood out: strong customer service and great staff. This commitment to service runs parallel to a passion for the product and the sharing of experience and knowledge is evident in all of the channels Majestic operates in.

Wine tastings in store are social events attracting more than 40,000 people across the country in 2012. One of the key success factors is the autonomy each store is given to manage its own events and communications. Individual Twitter accounts mean that communities can engage with their local store and access offers and events that are directly relevant to them rather than annoyingly distant. Whilst many companies are still debating whether to allow their staff to access social media channels at all in working hours, this approach shows a remarkable level of trust in the Majestic store teams and recognises the role that individuals play in making multichannel work for customers.

Majestic’s ecommerce model for the majority of orders uses store-based fulfilment, with central distribution for temperature controlled fine wines, online exclusives and gift ranges. This relationship between store and customer enables Majestic to deliver a joined-up customer experience. The store team, upon receiving a digital order, will contact the customer to confirm details, arrange a delivery time and fulfil using the store’s own Majestic delivery van. This model represents a considerable investment, reflecting a key strategic point for Majestic: instead of using digital channels as a mass market route built around a volume based central distribution model, digital is developed to augment the store-centred model and built around customer service. It’s worth remembering that the Majestic mission is to be the UK’s favourite wine specialist, not necessarily the biggest.

Established brands looking for new revenue streams in growth markets with a low cost of entry have found the availability of white-label solutions particularly attractive, allowing them to apply their brand and take a margin while the buying, ranging and distribution are done elsewhere. Furthermore, grocers have transformed the passive wine aisle into an experience often supported by membership schemes and enhanced digital content. Taking their lead from category specialists like Majestic and The Wine Society, the grocers have combined retail propositions with education, looking at ways to help customers become informed buyers, with Morrison’s Cellar being the most recent example.

Although the weight of competition and the economic climate have undoubtedly had an impact on trading, Majestic has a clear proposition and point of differentiation to both the big grocers and category specialists.

We often look at retailer challenges from the perspective of technology – how can we improve this, enhance that or 3D print the other? However, as is often said and rarely applied, the success is not in the technology but in the customer experience the technology supports. Developing multichannel experiences can often fall down at the point where the channels are connected technically but the people and processes to tie it together are not in place. Majestic has started its multichannel journey from a position of strength; building on a model where the relationship between the customer, store, staff and central distribution is already in place and digital can do what it does best – enhance and grow the business model in new, exciting and engaging ways, without breaking it.


The simple scoring from Transform is based on whether or not five services are offered by the retailer with a score of 0 for no and 5 for yes. On this basis, Majestic Wine scores 15/25.

Collection in-store: Yes

Mobile app: No

Mobile web: Yes

iPad app: No

In-store tech: Yes

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