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by Cyril Penn | July 11, 2013 | 7:30 AM

In 2002, Paul Mabray founded Inertia Beverage Group. He left the company in 2008. IBG would later make a series of acquisitions, starting with a takeover of what was then known as New Vine Logistics, a fulfillment operation - and the result of a dot-com adventure – – but that’s totally another story (coincidentally, Mabray once worked for wineshopper – he left in 2001).

These days, the company that was formerly known as IBG goes by the name Wine Direct and has evolved considerably, offering warehousing and fulfillment - as well as a comprehensive suite of services for wineries selling consumer-direct – they’re even in telesales.

In 2009, Mabray created a digital think tank for the wine industry, along with a social media monitoring platform for wineries. Now, four years later, the company he basically started has entered into an exclusive deal with the other company he founded – Vintank. They’re investing in his software.

As detailed in a news release, the Vintank social media monitoring platform is being integrated with Wine Direct subsidiary Vin65’s ecommerce platform. They’re merging data on social media interactions with the records of commerce customers.

This means social media managers can now understand the lifetime value of the people they’re interacting with, and ecommerce managers will have access to a 360 degree view of their customers including all social posts of your brand.

The money quote from Andrew Kamphuis, president of Vin65:

"The ability for our customers to relate social comments to ecommerce transactions is a step forward for monitoring the ROI of social."

Mabray says connecting the ecommerce platform with the social media part will push the boundaries of helping wineries connect to their customers through any means possible. What's really stunning, he says, is that WineDirect believes in connecting with customers through social media so much that they're licensing an exclusive version of Vintank for all of their customers – roughly 700 of them -- giving it to them free. He says the VinTank Pro version is priced at $150/month so essentially WineDirect is freeing up the equivalent to nearly $1.3 million annually to help wineries connect with customers.

As a result of the partnership, Vintank won’t be integrating with other ecommerce platforms – the deluxe version is exclusive to Vin65. The free version will still be available, though, as is a second version of Vintank where wineries can manage their social media ($45 a month). Roughly 4,700 wine brands use one or the other version of Vintank.

Next up: an iphone ap so wineries can monitor social media on the go.

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