Online wine destination Emperor Champagne is revamping its e-commerce site and subscription service, Champagne Club, as it gears up to open its first physical stores. According to Emperor Champagne founder and chief executive Kyla Kirkpatrick, the business has been scouting potential store locations in Sydney and Melbourne. “It’s a massive undertaking. It will be like the duty-free Champagne section, but on steroids,” Kirkpatrick told Inside Retail. “It has to be a supercharg
upercharged Champagne experience from the minute you walk through the door, and feel superior in production like every other element of our business, so I’m taking my time to get it right.” Emperor Champagne has traditionally held smaller physical events and tastings for its top customers, but these became entirely virtual during the pandemic. Now, Kirkpatrick wants to take physical events to the next level with the launch of a Champagne Week in May 2023. Taking place in Melbourne, the weeklong event will be a celebration of everything Champagne has to offer. Kirkpatrick said it was time to ensure the business’ offerings were up to scratch with the competition, and to make sure customers are getting the best possible experience. In order to revamp its online offer, the business partnered with Smith Brothers Media. It is also reworking its Champagne Club wine subscription to better educate customers on the “mystery” of Champagne more broadly. “Traditionally, Champagne has been dominated by the big players,” Kirkpatrick said. “But in Australia we’re starting to see a diversification between the big and small players, which has already happened in areas like craft beer and spirits. Champagne is a slightly more complicated category in terms of production techniques, and the champenoise don’t talk much about what makes them unique, so it falls to us to educate our customers.” According to Kirkpatrick, while its Champagne Club members are “die-hards”, with some having joined during the business’ infancy in 2014, Emperor Champagne prides itself on bringing wines to Australia from wineries that wouldn’t otherwise launch Down Under. “We’re able to introduce their stories and their wines here to people that have never seen them before,” Kirkpatrick said. “Champagne is a beautiful product, it has a lot of history. So I want to be able to weave some of those touch points of that history into Emperor Champagne.” Upon launch, the service will use subscribers’ previous purchases to predict other wines they might like and recommend them. The offer’s membership numbers jumped 40 per cent during the pandemic, and that growth is tipped to double in 2022, according to Emperor Champagne. The perfect balance For Kirkpatrick, the redesign of Emperor Champagne’s e-commerce store is an opportunity to better balance the need for a usable, shoppable site and a more aesthetically pleasing experience. “I’ve teetered between beauty and functionality for so long, and that’s a real conundrum. I’m hoping we can reach both,” said Kirkpatrick. “Champagne is beautiful. It’s an affordable luxury, but it’s also a product at the end of the day, so I need to make sure the website is customer-friendly which properly showcases the plethora of products we sell.” Beyond its aesthetics, the new site will improve performance, make it easier for customers to get to the point of purchase and offer a more intuitive checkout experience, with more ways to pay. The advancements come after Emperor Champagne enjoyed a 70 per cent sales increase over the last two years, as more customers took to online shopping, and although that has tapered off since lockdowns have ended in Australia, the business’ wholesale arm has picked back up.