Amazon now offers a free sommelier service in Japan
Tue 9 Feb 2016
Amazon has launched a free, on-demand wine consultation service for Japanese consumers looking for an informed purchase.
Users in Japan will now be able to use a contact form to reach the Amazon Sommelier service, led by skilled Japanese wine professional Miyuki Hara, and get a personalised call back from a certified expert. The sommelier will then recommend which wine is best suited to a certain meal or occasion, and even within a specific budget.
“It depends on how busy the sommeliers are, but typically we believe that they will be able to call back in a few minutes,” said an Amazon Japan spokesperson.
The company did not confirm how many sommeliers will be participating in the new service, but did emphasise that all would be licensed.
Although wine is slowly catching up [PDF] with the country’s most popular booze, sake, it is still regarded as quite an exotic alcohol in Japan and Japanese consumers often find it difficult to match wines with their national dishes. Amazon Japan can now jump in and deliver a carefully selected bottle from its stash of over 8,000 variably priced wines (even more to choose from than on the U.S. store).
A suggestion, for example, pairs a 2008 Beau Rivage or a KWV Classic Collection Pinotage from South Africa, with yakitori grilled chicken skewers.
For now, the wine advisors will only be on call between the hours of 12 and 5pm on weekdays. If a call back is missed, or the user forgets the suggested product, the expert also follows up with the customer via email summarising the phone conversation and listing further alternatives.
The service is only available to Japanese Amazon users, and no details have been confirmed about rollouts in other locations.
In the UK, Amazon was recently voted as the best for customer satisfaction by the Institute of Customer Service. The index noted that the e-commerce giant’s focus on personalisation was unlike others whose mass marketing and ‘one size fits all’ approach was ‘delivering diminishing returns and diluting valuable customer relationships.’