Our business model
Three vital relationships
Our finely-balanced ecosystem is what sets us apart from the rest – not just our fantastic, highly-engaged customers, but our extraordinary winemakers and relevant marketing partners. We spend almost all of our time making sure that these three groups all work together in harmony. The key thing here is sustaining relationships over a long period. We are completely focused on loyalty, something which runs across all parts of our business. When it comes to our winemakers, of course, the foundations of long term loyalty start with making sure they are paid enough to make a decent living from wine. Our marketing partners, meanwhile, of which there are now about a thousand, give us vital access to the right sort of customers – people who are interested in wine, and are looking to step up from the supermarkets. We put a lot of effort into maintaining and extending these relationships.
Over the years, we’ve built up something that’s very hard to replicate – our robust infrastructure that means we can offer excellent, market-leading levels of service in the UK, USA and Australia. We’re particularly proud that we can reach the majority of US customers within 48 hours.
Our brand is also a significant, difficult-to-copy asset. More and more people find out about us every day, with our distinctive, transparent (and occasionally amusing!) tone of voice helping us to cut through the chatter.
None of this would be possible, though, without the right culture. We’re ruthless about testing our ideas, confident with technology, ambitious to grow the business, and willing to do things differently. That attitude cuts across every part of our business, and it’s why we’ve been as successful as we have.
So what’s the process?
- Raising funds
Our Angels take out a monthly subscription, which gives us working capital that we can invest at the other end of the supply chain. Essentially, our customers’ funding replaces the money that retailers would normally provide near the end of the process, when they’re holding all of the cards and winemakers are in a tough spot.
- Investing in fantastic winemakers
We track down talented winemakers from across the globe, and invest in them up front. They are paid fairly, promptly and predictably, so they don’t need to squeeze costs. Since we started, we’ve invested £100m in a 235 strong winemaker portfolio – including the makers of Grange, Tignanello, Solaia, Stags’ Leap Winery and Ruinart Champagne– making over 1,500 wines in 21 countries.
- Letting the experts get on with what they do best
Most costs associated with a bottle of wine are fixed, but the cost of the wine itself isn’t. So, at the urging of retailers, the wine can become the target for cost cutting, and that inevitably affects quality. But because our winemakers are properly funded before they get going, they are then free to make their wine the very best it can be, with no corners cut. Our customers thank them every time they open a new case.
- We are to a winemaker what a publisher is to an author
We do a lot to help winemakers get the fruits of their labours out to our customers, just like publishers do for authors. This could involve giving them access to our winery in the US, putting it in bottles, sorting out warehouse space, corks, packaging, trucks and more. Every time, it will look a little different, with each winemaker needing more or less help.
- Delivering a better product for customers
The wine becomes available on our website, along with valuable insight into the winemakers’ process and approach. Our customers can shop at any time, with the balance in their account applied against their order. They get better wine at an ‘insider’ price, while knowing that they’re doing some good.