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

My Perfect Customer: Sam Howard, HarperWells

Published:  13 November, 2019

Norwich-based independent merchant HarperWells has a bustling shop in the centre of the city and a busy events calendar. Sam Howard looks after the company’s wine fine list and private clients - here he shares his secrets to keeping his customers happy and building a client base outside of East Anglia.

How would you describe your customer base?

An always surprising mix of local customers who pre-Facebook join to keep up to speed on events. Long-term (some going back pre-2006) national customers, mainly London based from early campaigns with CityAm, The Week and Decanter who were looking for an alternative to the national wine companies.

What would be your ‘perfect’ customer?

Customers driven by exploration not price, and customers with private cellars to sell.

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

Individuality. Customers have asked why we no longer offer new releases of Flaccianello, and I say because you can pick them up in Majestic now. My job is done. HarperWells is about offering you the ‘new Flaccianello’. A recent London-based customer who attends regular wine lunches, said ‘in the past they would all bring Sassicaia and other famous brands. Now they all bring unheard of eclectic wines from places like South Africa.’

How do you go about attracting new customers?

Events, networking via complimentary businesses and word of mouth. 

How to you maintain relationships with existing customers?

Email and social media. I have just one customer left without an email address. It is still nice to occasionally pick up the phone and you can still get a lovely warm response. But as a rule, customers want to be contacted unobtrusively via either email or messaging.