One of the key selling prepositions of e-commerce platforms is the fact they promise to bring producers and consumers together while cutting out the middle men in order to get costs down. But newly-launched Asia-based online wine marketplace WineFamily instead aims to invite licensed wine retailers across the region to create virtual stores in an Etsy-style platform and sell directly online to consumers in Asia.
WineFamily also has a social network component called Grapevine that allows wine merchants to create their own social communities, allowing consumers to communicate directly with wine makers and distributors. The site currently carries an inventory of close to SGD$3 million worth of wines available for purchase on the website – priced anywhere between SGD$19 to SGD$859 – and is first available for the Singapore market, although it will gradually roll out across other Southeast Asian markets over the next year.
Paul Gerken, Founder and CEO of WineFamily, sees the platform as a solution to the inefficient wine industry model, where wine sellers are sinking capital into websites that offer no social engagement. “WineFamily offers a solution that brings many industry players together on one wine-commerce online site, and uses that scale to increase sales for its vendors,” says Paul Gerken, founder and CEO of WineFamily. He sees the platform as a solution to what he believes is an inefficient wine industry model, where wine sellers are sinking capital into websites that offer no social engagement.
“We aim to become the world’s go-to source of wine,” Gerken said. “WineFamily will enable a global dialogue among winemakers and their customers in every corner of the world.”
Concha y Toro, South America’s largest winery group, is using the platform to sell direct to its Singapore-based customers. “Concha y Toro sees the advantages of selling online directly to consumers, in particular being able to engage with our consumers in Singapore and tell more of the stories behind our wines, the winemakers and terroir, which are difficult to communicate at a retail level,” explains Guy Nussey, Regional Director for Asia, Concha y Toro.
WineFamily takes a hefty eight percent marketing fee on all wine sales, although that’s still cheaper than other platforms charging a usual 30 per cent distribution fee. But easy online access to a large portfolio of wines will likely be the key draw for consumers in Asia.