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Welcome back to What’s in Store! On behalf of the entire MailChimp crew, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend filled with record-breaking Black Friday sales. We’re closing out November (yikes!) with part 9 of our 10-part marketing automation series. This week, we’re getting into the holiday spirit with Brooklyn-based De Wine Spot to learn how they use MailChimp’s First Purchase automation to enhance the customer experience.

When Ilya Dorfman, a second generation oenophile (that’s a fancy term that means “wine connoisseur”) took over De Wine Spot’s brick-and-mortar location in 2011, he set out to transform the store into the local go-to wine and whiskey spot for Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg neighborhood. It wasn’t long before Ilya’s eye for affordable, high-quality wines and rare bourbons created a buzz around town. The store became a local favorite.

With retail business booming, Ilya decided it was time to take his passion online, so he partnered with longtime friend Mischa Cashman. On the day before Christmas 2012, the pair launched their e-commerce store at dewinespot.co.

Mischa’s marketing background and love of technology combined with Ilya’s extensive knowledge of wine and spirits make the duo a perfect match for business, but that’s not the only ingredient in their recipe for success. They both also share a customer-first philosophy that helps drive business and differentiate them from competitors. 

“Love your customers,” Mischa says. “If you don’t, someone else will.” 

Here are a few ways the retailer puts customers first both in-store and online. 

According to Ilya, “Our customers often cite customer service as one of the top reasons they choose to give us their business over and over.” A key part of that service is innovating to offer new features and special services. That includes everything from new payment features—their website has Bitcoin and PayPal checkout options—to a signature concierge service where customers can request hard-to-find bottles and have the store go to work for them.

“The reality of retail is that there are some products out there that we’re unable to carry or, perhaps, aren’t even available in our area,” Ilya says. “Our concierge service expands our reach exponentially by utilizing our expertise and industry connections to procure rare, exclusive products that are otherwise nearly impossible to find. We offer this as a free service, so there is no risk to the customer if we’re unable to find what they’re looking for.”

“Being a neighborhood store, we know most of our customers on a first-name basis,” says Mischa. Of course, getting to know your customers is more challenging with an e-commerce store, so De Wine Spot makes sure to treat their online customers the same way they would if they were shopping face-to-face. 

One way De Wine Spot communicates with online customers is through MailChimp’s First Purchase automation. “It allows us to add a personal touch by sending out a thank you email 1 day after a new customer places an order,” explains Mischa.

Mischa adds that the automation also allows them to monitor the progress they’re making with customers. It uses the data to send out a curated product recommendation email 30 days after the customer made their first purchase:

“Thirty days is enough time for a customer to get acquainted with our site, so product recommendations become important in the customer cycle at this point. Automation has had a profound impact on our business by allowing us to set up a system of curated email reminders to constantly stay in touch with our customers.”

Not only does this email have a 60% open rate, he tells me that it often results in a reply from their customers—and has garnered them an additional $2,000 in sales that would have otherwise been lost.

“We try to pay back the community that supports us,” Ilya says. “We donate to various charities and have free wine and bourbon tastings every Friday and Saturday night.” 

Those tastings provide an opportunity for Mischa and Ilya to connect with customers and share their passion.

“It’s simple. We treat our customers the way we would like others to treat us.”