By Leon Gettler >>
BEN REVELL has made a big difference to e-commerce wine retailing in the UK – and, more recently, around the world.
His company, Winebuyers.com, is a wine club that offers consumers the chance to buy wine at the same price direct from the supplier. It lists more than 50,000 wines and spirits.
Working on a completely transparent model, Winebuyers does not mark up prices or charge commission on any item sold, enabling customers to buy wines at exactly the same price as they would from the supplier direct.
Winebuyers makes its revenue from charging suppliers a subscription fee. It has custom built application programming interfaces (APIs) that automate the entire process with artificial intelligence (AI).
Mr Revell said the idea to set up the company came to him about 10 years ago when he turned up a wine auction and put in a cheeky bid for a 1959 Chateaux Margaux. The auctioneer was selling it for £7200 and Revell put in a bid of £3700, never thinking he would win it, nor particularly wanting to win it.
But lo and behold, he did. He sold it three days later and almost doubled his money.
UNCORKING A BUSINESS
Three months later, he had amassed 500 bottles. He wanted to sell it but there was no real viable route to do that. It was almost impossible to sell on Amazon, illegal to sell on eBay. It then dawned on him to set up the business.
“Why not connect the people making the wine to the people actually buying it?” Mr Revell told Talking Business. “After a lot of research, it blew my mind that nobody seemed to me be doing that, or doing that correctly.”
He said the company gets its wines from suppliers from 40 different countries. Mr Revell said the primary focus was on the UK but there was a lot of appetite from Western Europe and Eastern Europe.
Customers also come “from all over the place,” he said.
DELIVERING ON PROMISE
The wine is delivered from the vineyard straight to the consumer.
“That’s the beauty of the platform. The reality is a model like ours couldn’t have existed 10 or 15 years ago. There’s been massive developments with the three major shipping companies, UPS, FedEx and DHL.
“They’ve come on in leaps and bounds and not only made it possible for vineyards to ship to the end customer, it’s their most economic route,” he said.
Mr Revell said producers were happy to pay the subscription fee, which works off a sliding scale based on how much wine they want to list.
The result is it being mutually beneficial for everyone involved with the customer getting it for the best price, leaving them with the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re helping the producer and not lining the pockets of the supermarket, and the producers maximising their margins selling direct to the customers.
“With us in the middle with us, if we have 1000 suppliers paying us £100 a month, why do we need to be greedy and take margin on the sale of items?” Mr Revell said.
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.