Affordable Wine: An Update

5 months on from the purchase of Affordable Wine, I thought I would share an update. What I/we have learned, how it’s been going, and what’s next.

To say it has been a journey would be an understatement. Literally everything we have done has been for the first time, with no prior knowledge or experience. In the early days when my business partner sent me a photo of some orders to be sent out, my response on text was “f*cking hell, we almost look like we know what we are doing!” The learning curve has been steep in every area of the business. Not just not knowing too much about the wine itself, but down to packaging, postage, breakages, tape, boxes, licenses, VAT…every day has been a school day.

But we have made it work somehow. Everybody has got their wine, and mostly in perfect condition within 2 days of the order. We have now done pretty much everything at least more than once. Bought stock, delivered large orders, delivered small orders, had breakages, sent the wrong items, run discounts, given refunds, had quiet times, done a Christmas period, and everything in between. So as we enter into 2022 I feel far more comfortable in our understanding of what it is going to take to grow from here.

There have been times where I have been tearing my (limited) hair out, wondering why sales weren’t coming. Still to this day I have no idea why October was so quiet. But then things changed, and in December we managed to do twice the sales in both volume and value than the previous owner. Still not quite where we want to be, but considering our previous experience of running an ecommerce operation I’m happy with that. There is a temptation when you are watching something every day to be too focussed in short term performance.

We now have a solid set of suppliers we can work with without spreading ourselves too thin. A process between us which means things don’t fall through the gaps. And a growing customer base that we just need to keep coming back.

We haven’t done any sales to the on trade (pubs/restaurants etc) yet due to delays in our licensing (got to love HMRC!) and once we are that will really grease the gears. Our suppliers have minimum order values which makes cash flow a constant consideration. Trade business will be lower margin, but regular and consistent. It will allow us to keep stock moving and have ongoing revenue we can predict.

In 2022 we will start to get more advanced with our ecommerce too. Subscriptions will be on our roadmap which will hopefully increase our customer lifetime value and stickiness.

We also always said from the start there needs to be other reasons to keep people coming back, something extra. In the modern world of ecommerce doing a ‘good job’ is not enough when you have competitors both online and offline competing for your customers. There needs to be something more to it. We will start to try and find this in 2022 although we have not quite cemented our thinking on what it will be.

The journey so far has been challenging and enjoyable in equal measures. I have even started drinking a little wine myself! If I can look back in January 2023 and say we have double December sales and revenue again, I will be a very happy man.

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