Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Launching online commerce for an industry pioneer and legend

There are few names as revered in the wine industry as Kermit Lynch. The man, the newsletter, the importer, and the retail shop – they are all in perfect alignment in selling wine through Kermit’s trademark storytelling blend of history, technical details, recommendations, and personal anecdotes. A pioneer in almost every aspect of the wine business and culture, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant was in fact a late entrant to the online commerce world. Intentionally so.

When KLWM engaged us to launch their online store, we knew it was paramount that their online presence capture not only their brand and their encyclopedic knowledge base, but also the subtleties of their familiar, old-school hospitality approach to selling wine. The challenge was for the online experience to feel akin to poring over their legendary newsletter or making a pilgrimage to their Berkeley brick and mortar store.

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Kermit Lynch Berkeley shop exterior

There is a distinct tacticality to all things Kermit Lynch that we believed essential to honor in the digital space. Photo by Gail Skoff.

Translating an analog benchmark to the digital world

For almost 50 years, Kermit Lynch has published their iconic newsletter. An ingenious shopping catalog that reads more like a literary magazine, it laid the solid foundation of Kermit Lynch’s DTC business. We realized the newsletter as a fully interactive magazine within their website, which set the tone for the commerce site.

Content architecture inspired by Kermit’s winding wine route

Distinct from many online retailers, KLWM isn’t merely about shopping, it’s about learning. Keenly aligned on prioritizing customers over transactions, the design and content architecture encourages exploration. We wanted to allow visitors to meander through the proverbial aisles, to feel unpressured to buy, so they may discover new compelling producers and cuvées.

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant Product Page

In crafting customers’ content journeys through the site, we highlighted core brand distinguishers like Kermit’s irreverent quotes (“Kermit once said…”) and imagery by his wife, celebrated photographer Gail Skoff. These personal touchpoints serve as differentiators, reinforcing KLWM’s personal, immersive connection to their wines, producers, and customers.

Customized cart and check-out

A notable experience when shopping at the Berkeley store is that you build your collection of wines on their counter – another example of their unfussy, uncorporate approach. It also serves them well – it is remarkably easy to go in with the intention of buying a bottle and instead compiling a case. We recreated this in our case discount functionality and illustration – maintaining a casual, old-school feel while also encouraging a fuller cart.

“It's true that Offset can design beautiful websites and they have the commerce technology to match, but their biggest asset is their ethic of taking the time to understand our company, learning who we are, and listening to our goals. Every project we work on together presents unique challenges and they approach it as such – there's no cookie-cutter method, no template to replicate. Everything they do is tailored to their clients, bespoke, and backed up with great design and solid business sense.”

Clark Z. Terry

Marketing Director, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant