After a full twelve months of development, we are finally ready to launch our brand-new website. Special mention must go to Natalie and Michelle who have worked tirelessly on every aspect. Testing alone has been daily and has taken close to three months, which I have no patience for – what would I do without them. James has worked his artistic magic and has also been an extra pair of eyes for when the girls can’t see the wood for the trees.
I must also thank the development team, Venditan who have really got stuck into this project. They work with some ‘big’ names including my favourite cycle store, Sigma Sports. Everyone has worked super hard to retain everything we know you love about the old site on this completely new build.
Our new website is a huge financial investment, essentially costing the equivalent to five pallets (2,880 bottles) of 2020 Standish, yet the investment is an essential one, as almost all our business now comes through E-commerce, and this is also where we foresee the growth coming from in the future. Without E-commerce, we would have 3 to 5 times the staff numbers (salespeople on the road) which would reduce our profitability enormously. We have finalised our full accounts for the year ended December 2021, which yielded gross profits of £1.7 million (operating profit of £1.1 million). For many, our Profit Share / Wine Investment Scheme has come full circle with £727,260 being returned to customers during 2021.
Much of our profits have been redirected into stock, the development of our new HQ (we have spent close to £500,000 in the past 18 months) and now our new E-commerce platform. That said, 2021 was a very hard year, the hardest we have faced in five years. The pandemic has caused untold problems with shipping and the issues with Brexit are best left unspoken. The horrific war in Ukraine has added a further layer to cost increases, which is selfish to write. Clearly, some suppliers see this as a means to increase prices (packaging has increased by 50% in 12 months) – fuel prices have rocketed with surcharges increasing by the day. For us, the biggest impact is the FX market – the GBP has plummeted (and continues to fall) against the Aussie dollar.
Thankfully, our stocks are substantial, however, we now need to focus on increasing sales, and promptly. To that end, the independent wine shops (some 900) across the UK will provide an enormous new market for The Vinorium and our aim is to use the functionality of the new website to provide this market with a service that the wine industry has not been able to offer before. Essentially, we’ll be offering a ‘private customer’ experience to independent retailers. Allowing them around the clock access to our available stocks, the ability to pick and mix by the bottle or case, no minimum order, receive immediate confirmation of their orders and next day delivery. Often, you wait days for the rep to even respond to your request!
Over the next few weeks all existing Vinorium customers (see point 1 in our know-how guide below) will automatically see their online accounts upgraded, free of charge to member status. This will provide you with members' pricing on all our exclusive wines, allocations of pre-launches (Standish / Utopos etc), sale, special parcels and exclusive content. Please note that there have been no changes to pricing at this time. New customers will have the opportunity to pay for membership too at a reasonable one off price of £30.00. Membership is not compulsory however, they will be paying at least 10% more than members. The discount on a six pack of Standish will not only pay for lifetime membership, but save them a few bob at the checkout too.
The new platform is a bespoke build which allows the team to manage the functions of the business in one place. The front end of the website, where you will be able to browse the range, read our articles and shop is obviously of vital importance but it also provides us with a powerful stock management system. Furthermore, the direct integration to our financial system is invaluable and saves enormous amounts of time and funds. I believe, we can double the size of our operation with only 2-3 new members of staff. We have also future-proofed ourselves from the functionality and management of operating our own bonded warehouse (more to come next week) and the ability to sell wines in multiple currencies, which will be operational when we set up The Vinorium EU next year.
As with all new implementations, our new E-commerce platform will continue to be a work in progress. In fact, and now we have such a great development team onboard, I am convinced we will be redeveloping aspects of the site on an ongoing basis / upgrading / adding new and exciting features. So, the journey has only begun… It’s certainly going to be an exciting few years ahead (I will be unveiling full plans of our new HQ next week).
As ever, I thank you for your continued support. Please keep safe and well and I look forward to ‘physically’ welcoming to you to our new home, summer 2023.