Wine Merchant Embraces Digital Media and AI to Boost Rural Business

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A North Wales wine merchant harnessed the power of digital media and AI to fuel record sales as it celebrates 10 years in business.

Husband and wife Dylan and Llinos Rowlands launched Gwin Dylanwad in Dolgellau in 2014 as a follow up to their successful restaurant in the town.

Llinos, a former teacher, said:

“Just running a wine merchant in Dolgellau would not be a feasible business model but because we supply restaurants, cafes and hotels across North and Mid Wales it works.

“We have always used the internet as a marketing tool which has enabled us to reach a much wider clientele, but since working with business consultants Lafan we have expanded our online sales through using social media.

“We have a presence on Facebook, X – formerly Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and even TikTok and the guidance we’ve received has been invaluable.

“Our January sales were up 16% on last year and every month since has shown an increase.

“We have a strong presence on social media and we have learned that if you try and sell your goods there you won’t get far but if you concentrate on brand recognition then that works and will drive people to your website.

“We write a blog and that is quite a challenge but AI is a big help. I visited a Canadian vineyard last year and asked AI to write five paragraphs on Canadian ice wine and I added my input and it worked very well.

“It’s also important to train your staff. We send ours on vineyard visits and it does cost but when you listen to them talking to our customers about wine they really do pay for themselves.”

Lafan consultant Jamie Hughes, an expert in developing brands and in the use of digital technology for business, said:

“We look forward to supporting businesses to grow digitally, closing the gap between where they are and where they want to be.

“The first step is to establish what they need, whether that’s e-marketing, social media, choosing the right software, websites, e-commerce or accounting systems for example. We provide mentoring sessions, both face to face and online.

“E-marketing has the ability to transform the fortunes of a business and selling online can open up new markets and increase the customer base.

“Harnessing the power of the digital platforms can really boost a business in a rural area like Gwynedd. Selling online enables a business to be located anywhere so you don’t necessarily need retail premises in densely populated area.

“That means businesses can continue to grow and prosper in Gwynedd, creating employment and helping to halt the tide of rural depopulation where previously young people would have to move away to find work.

“Llinos and Dylan are a real inspiration to budding entrepreneurs in rural areas like this.”

Llinos and Dylan revealed the secrets of their success at a social media masterclass organised as part of Dyfodol Digidol (Digital Future), a Gwynedd Council Project.

The project has received funding from the Shared Prosperity Fund and is available free to any businesses based in the county.

Companies that sign up get three one-to-one mentoring sessions from a digital expert and will be able to choose from 30 different training workshops which will be mainly online.

The aim is to help companies grow and prosper in Gwynedd, creating employment and help to halt the tide of rural depopulation with young people having to move away to find work.

Dyfodol Digidol is being brought forward for Gwynedd Council by Lafan in partnership with Anglesey-based innovation centre M-Sparc, website designers Gwe Cambrian and marketing company Marketshed.

Barbara Hope, from Llan Ffestiniog, runs a guesthouse while her chef husband Richard supplies picnics and afternoon teas to customers including the Ffestiniog Railway.

She said:

“This masterclass has been really useful. I used to deliver training myself and I can see how this project could really help us for what we want to do in the future.”

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