Interview with Dry Dock and their Unique Digital Wine Tastings

Interview with Dry Dock and their Unique Digital Wine Tastings

Introduction to Dry Dock

Businesses are pushing themselves to be more responsive and creative in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, identifying their customers’ rapidly evolving needs and offering innovative solutions.

While many have closed or suspended their activities, others are aiming to benefit from the outbreak through change and innovation. 

One such business is Dry Dock Liquor, a boutique wine and liquor retailer in Johannesburg’s trendy Parkhurst,who has innovated and adapted to the new business environment through the use of technology.

Out of the Ordinary

Under normal circumstances, Dry Dock Liquor,  who specialise in delivering a unique artisan-style craft experience,  is a bustling store offering a strong sense of community.  A major part of Dry Dock’s focus is on up-and-coming winemakers as well as selling ‘out of the ordinary’ items you wouldn’t find on a supermarket shelf. 

A Digital Wine Tasting Experience

Owner, Martin Pienaar, says the crisis inspired him to reevaluate his core offerings and assess how he could still serve his customers amid the crisis.  

The company has since pivoted. They created virtual wine tastings as an alternative for clients unable to visit the store due to COVID-19.  Now, clients can join renowned South African vineyard owners and winemakers in Dry Dock’s ‘Meet the Winemaker Series’. People can join via video chat platforms like Zoom and take a deep dive on what they’re drinking. 

“The idea behind the virtual event is to provide the audience with an immersive wine tasting experience from the comfort of their own homes, where they can meet and interact with some of the country’s premier winemakers.”

A New Audience

Martin says since launching in early April, Dry Dock has hosted a number of virtual tastings. He says while his initial aim was to connect with existing customers and avid wine enthusiasts in order to maintain personal relationships, the tastings have been so successful, they have opened the business up to entirely new audiences. 

“In this new virtual world, we’re no longer limited to who comes through the door, but rather  have the opportunity to engage with a far larger audience, presenting a whole new range of possibilities for this offering going forward including corporate tastings and team building.”

Unique Experiences

He says a key goal of this shift is aiming to recreate the business’s unique in-store experience.

“A massive part of our business is customer experience. We spend a lot of time training our staff and test-tasting products. This ensures customers receive key information and insights into each item. Tasting and interactions is a key part of this experience. Our goal is to bring this experience and specialist knowledge online.”

Martin says the pivot has also enabled him to bring some big-hitters in the wine industry on board for the series including Waterford Wines, Miles Mossop, Spier and Dawid Nieuwoudt. 

Digital Wine Tastings Here to Stay

He says he expects this offering to persist after lockdown and social distancing measures. And intends to grow these digital wine tastings into a key feature of the business. 

Martin says another way the business has pivoted is through its eCommerce store.

“We started an online store a year ago but didn’t prioritise it. Suddenly, our online offering has grown exponentially. We have taken more orders in the last week than we normally do in the space of two months.”

Martin says significant alcohol demand is due to the fact that people are running low on their lockdown alcohol supply. People want to ensure they have a place in the queue when alcohol is permitted to be sold again. 

If you’re interested in hearing more about or participating in one of these Virtual Wine Tastings, visit Dry Dock Liquor’s Facebook page.  

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