May 31, 2019
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Buying wine for the nation’s largest grocer is a tough gig, especially in such a dynamic industry as the wine business. But, Walmart’s senior wine buyer, Nichole Simpson, is up for the challenge.
Nichole Simpson has 11+ years of experience in the wine & spirits industry. She has worked in multiple industry jobs in Category Management, On-sale, Sales, Marketing, Brand Management and Retail. Prior to joining as a Senior Wine Buyer at Walmart Inc., in 2016, Nichole had worked at E & J Gallo Winery for more than 7 years.
In an interview session with Nichole post her judging experience in USA Wine ratings 2018, she has expressed her views on many aspects of the wine industry. Here is the full coverage of her interview:
BTN: What are some challenges you face as a wine buyer or a sommelier?
Nichole: The Wine industry changes every day. We need to work harder than ever to find a great wine for our customers, taking into account and balancing both demand and availability. According to me, that is the biggest challenge for any wine buyer.
BTN: What you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business?
Nichole: When I plan to buy wine for my business I look for a few major aspects: what are the customer trends in the market? What will be the hot items in 6 months to a year? What customers like to drink the most? How to deliver those drinks on time to my customers and a very important aspect: Voice of my customers. It’s important to me that what they like, they can get on our shelves.
BTN: How has the role of the wine buyer evolved in the last 20years?
Nichole: The world is now at our fingertips, customers’ expectations have changed a lot when it comes to fulfilling their wants and needs. It’s easy to find a fine wine, to know from where the customers are buying mostly and why. For me, a wine buyer plays an important role. At Walmart, our main focus is to serve our customers and their needs.
BTN: Which varietals or countries are in demand these days for your business?
Nichole: All countries are in demand. Wine taste profiles change from country to country. It has a beautiful balance of millions of varietals; Like Chilean and Spanish wines, they are satisfying the expectations from those regions and so are the others.
BTN: Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not working?
Nichole: First I like exploring profiles the world has to offer and really enjoying Barolo’s right now. If you know me well, you know I am a bourbon girl through and through.