Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

My Favourite Customer: Matt Thomas, Vinoramica

Published:  12 December, 2019

East London-based independent merchant Vinoramica has been trading since 2017. Harpers caught up with Matt Thomas from the family-run business to discover what makes his customers tick and how free themed tasting evenings have put this indie start-up on the map.

How would you describe your customer base?

We have a mixture of long-standing residents and people who have recently moved to the area, normally in order to “upsize” having lived in more central London, with most customers living around a half mile radius from the shop. Most of our customers know a little bit about wine – and what they like – but are very keen to learn.

What would be your ‘perfect’ customer?

They would be open-minded and willing to explore lesser-spotted regions and styles, generally in the £13-£30 retail mark, which is where our range gets really interesting. It’s great when a customer has a quick taste, perhaps stays for a glass or two, then buys a bottle or two to take away. We’ve also been really lucky with customers who have ended up helping us with design work, filming, lighting and even staffing.

What can you offer customers that supermarkets and Majestic can’t?

It’s a unique wine selection, which has evolved organically towards the tastes of the locals. Having complete freedom to open any bottle to sample means that we can react extremely quickly to local demand and adjust our offering accordingly. These are also normally wines and beers from producers who are either too small or not interested in supplying large chains. I think the atmosphere in Vinoramica is like no other I’ve ever experienced in a shop, so has become a bit of a community hub too.

How do you go about attracting new customers?

With so much local custom, traditional word of mouth still gives the best immediate results for new business, although social media is probably playing an increasing part. Promotion on local Facebook groups has been very effective, more so than any paid advertising. The recent films and more abstract social media content have probably pushed us up the algorithm a little to attract a wider audience. We normally hold free themed tasting evenings every two weeks, in addition to “learn to taste” courses, which really get people on board with what we’re trying to do.

And how to you maintain relationships with existing customers?

We’re lucky that most of our customers like to taste and to mix up their selections every week, so they naturally remain interested and engaged. With a completely new selection of wines to taste every week – normally at least 10 options over the weekends – there’s a good excuse to visit the shop, even if there’s not a special event. There’s certainly a very strong social element to what we do. We talk about wine in a very personal way and tend to be very good at remembering the tastes of our customers, disconcertingly well at times!