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When it comes to the question of how to sell wine in the age of big data, cloud computing, machine learning and assorted other buzzwords, one Napa company is positioning to be the go-to for the answers.

But for Emetry (pronounced Emma-tree) that work isn’t simply about finding such answers; it also has to build them.

Speaking on a recent morning, Emetry CEO Paul Mabray was frank: “The reality is the answers I’m trying to discover don’t exist.”

From carving out meticulous consumer profiles to macro-level analysis, the company works to find meaningful amounts of data that it can then “slice and dice and turn it into an answer,” said Mabray, a Napa native who has led Emetry for nearly a year.

The company taps into the unknown with pursuits like machine learning to understand a wine club member’s lifetime value.

With club members’ data at hand, Emetry can trace behaviors like how many times a member has logged into a winery’s site, if and when they updated their credit card, if they ordered more wine on top of their shipment, and so on.

Knowing this, the company can infer whether a wine club member is going to quit in, say, six months. Mabray can then take the findings to winery clients like Wente or Duckhorn, he said, and ask, “’What do you want to do? It’s month three, there’s a canary in the coal mine.’”

Or, the data might project that a club member will stay on with the winery for some time.

“What do you do as a company?” Mabray asks. “I provide you a tool that says, ‘This guy’s going to do this.’ What do you want to do about that? How can you perpetuate that?”

Adding to the questions, Emetry’s work is also redefining a traditional metric of direct sales called “RFM,” which basically tallies how recently a consumer bought, how frequently they bought and how much they spent.

But, Mabray wonders, “Is proximity a factor in that? When you look at it across channels, club and ecommerce, do those play together to create more value?” Further, is a consumer’s value lessened if they go to a winery’s site to buy wine? Or is it increased if they’re within a certain proximity?

“There’s all these questions,” said Mabray. “And I don’t know the answer to that question. But I am suited to go get it. I do have data scientists and cloud computing and all the different, you know, buzzwords you can throw out – AI, machine learning. We’re using all those tools to find that answer to serve the customer better and to serve the winery better.”

A mainstay of their work is a collaboration that allows Emetry to buy data from the influential app Delectable. The app lets smartphone users scan wine labels and see reviews and tasting notes from others on the app, as well as critics.

But by tracking what wines users are scanning, Emetry can offer a macro-level view that gauges the competition, effectively letting wineries target a given market even more precisely.

“We think that they provide a value to wineries that’s beyond any other app,” Mabray said, “because they don’t compete with wineries. They’re a media company trying to help them understand what consumers think.”

In its angling to be the ones wineries call on with their questions, Emetry last month bought a competitor, closing a deal with ZAMapps, another Napa company, for its DTCguru software.

Dealing in direct to consumer sales analytics, the software helps to track how consumers are buying in different markets, finding trade hotspots that can then help prioritize accounts for marketers.

“We’re already showing it to our customers and talking about ‘How do we take it to the next level?’” Mabray said.

In the months ahead, the company also has a new software release forthcoming, their biggest yet, Mabray said, and there are plans to buy another competitor or two before the end of the year.

Overall, Mabray said, “I believe that we want to be the source for all answers that are sales and marketing.”

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Wine Reporter / Copy Editor

Henry Lutz covers the local wine industry. He has been a reporter and copy editor for the Register since 2016.