Welcome to SevenFifty Stories — where beverage industry professionals share how they’ve used SevenFifty to make their lives easier.
James Mucci is the Vice President of Mucci Imports in Massachusetts, a boutique importer and distributor of family-owned Italian wines. Buyers in Massachusetts on SevenFifty can view Mucci’s entire portfolio here.
SevenFifty: Tell us a little bit about Mucci Imports.
James Mucci: We are the importer behind 30 or so small Italian family wineries. We are based in our home state of Massachusetts, where we also have our distribution license. We started in early 2013, and the company consists of my brother Nick and myself, along with my sister-in-law Kelsey, who does our website. The company was founded after Nick and Kelsey had lived in Italy for three years, spending much of their time traveling to wineries that were off the beaten path and venturing to the lesser known regions of Italian wine. After a year at the Food and Wine MBA program at the University of Bologna, and realizing that many of these winemakers were not available in the US, Nick decided to represent these families back in Massachusetts.
Besides maintaining your website, how else do you leverage technology to do your jobs?
We don’t consider ourselves too technologically savvy, but SevenFifty has been a great resource for us and has made our life a lot easier. Essentially, most of our internet presence other than our website is through your platform. Aside from face-to-face contact, email, and phone conversations, our exposure to the market is on SevenFifty. A link to our portfolio on SevenFifty is in both of our email signatures.
We also use QuickBooks for our invoicing and our accounting, which is obviously very important. We’re on Instagram and Twitter and social media, but in terms of a resource that we use and we direct people to, SevenFifty is certainly at the top.
How else has SevenFifty helped in your day-to-day operations?
It’s really helped with everything from how we present our pricing sheets to how we keep a log of our client interactions. It also has helped us strategize on how to enter the market with our products in terms of pricing, grape varietals from Italy, and specifically, what’s available and where we might see a market opportunity.
For example, in the world of Italian wine, when we look up products on SevenFifty, and we see that there are already 725 results for Pinot Grigio in our market, we think it’s best to stay away from bringing in a new Pinot Grigio. However, we may have tasted a Pecorino that we loved over in Italy and thought it might be more advantageous to bring something like that in. We search on SevenFifty and see only a handful in the market and think, ‘oh, maybe there’s a window for that.’
How has SevenFifty improved your relationship with buyers?
I consider every one of our customer appointments crucial because we have a very small, concentrated book. People don’t need to see us once a week to satisfy their needs. They see what our boutique selection is and we taste whatever is new and what they’re looking for, and that’s that. So every meeting is very important.
Before each meeting, I go back through my notes that I keep with SevenFifty, and I go through the sample log that I had filled out from previous tastings. My brother does this as well. We record exactly what we tasted and what the customer’s remarks were. After one or two meetings, I can better pinpoint what the customer’s preferences are. It seems like common sense, but when you’re bringing in more obscure, boutique wines like we are, it’s incredibly crucial to us to be able to focus in before each tasting by looking at these notes. For example, we had a client who absolutely loved a vintage 2014 wine, a cooler year that led to a more lean and aromatic expression. They passed on the following year, which was a warmer and riper vintage. Out comes the 2016, more in that lean expression, and after reading through my notes, I remembered to let this customer know his preferred style of wine was back.
If it weren’t for a platform like SevenFifty, honestly, I would have just been logging notes all over the place. It would be totally unorganized. Other software companies have approached us to help with this type of organization, but it never seemed as fluid or as focused as SevenFifty.
So, it’s really just you and your brother handling sales and operations. What are the biggest challenges in distribution for a team of your size?
For somebody as small as us, when dealing with these producers, it’s the vintage-to-vintage changes. Production is really small. They produce, let’s say, 2500 bottles of a vintage 2015 white. Our inventory moves very quickly in many cases, given that quantities can be so limited. We may taste the 2015 with a customer in March who wants to bring it in for September. By the time September comes around, we are on to the next vintage. SevenFifty helps us produce price sheets and product lists which help people scan those vintage changes and allow us to stay on the same page. And while they are seeing what has changed, they may also stumble into a few new wines that we have yet to show them, and reach out to us to taste those as well.
If another distributor is trying to figure out how or when they should start working with SevenFifty, what advice would you give them?
It’s a resource for almost every buyer that I know. The platform has a very good reputation within the industry and people are understanding how to best utilize it. The more and more buyers that are moving over to your platform, the more they’re focusing their efforts on using it effectively. Really, you show up and you say, “hey, I’m on SevenFifty.” More often than not, that is going to help you with your relationship.
People are constantly on their computers and their smartphones now. Instagram is really important. Twitter is really important. Your communication with these buyers should be on an internet-based platform, and it should be on SevenFifty because really, it’s the best option.
What would you say is the most important part of maintaining strong relationships with your customers?
We’re a two-person company that represents family wineries that my brother met and befriended while he lived in Italy. Essentially, our story is that personal connection in working with really honest winemakers. I feel like honesty and transparency are the most important aspects of our operation. It is a lot of work to constantly stay in contact and up to speed with customers across the entire state of Massachusetts. Communication is key, and to have a platform that helps us be efficient and clear in our communication is a major asset for us.