A Real Corker: Q&A with Naked Wines Australia

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 13 Jun 2019

Naked Wines won the Small-Medium Retailer Award and featured as one of the Top 100 Online Retailers at the 2019 All Star Bash and truly has a business model unlike any other.

Naked Wines is one of the real shakers in the wine industry. Helping winemakers get their products directly to the consumers, this platform believes that wine should be an ‘everyday pleasure’ not a privilege. We sat down with CMO, Laura Minchin to discuss the customer-centric model, e-commerce challenges and the future of Naked Wines.

Can you please take us through the history of your online/cross-channel retail business? What was your inspiration for getting into the space, and how has the business evolved?

“In the beginning, we knew the wine industry was broken and the two most important people – the winemaker and wine drinker – were getting the worst deal. So, Naked Wines Australia was founded in 2012 to connect the two most important people in wine – the maker and the drinker. In doing so, today, we continue to disrupt the status quo of an industry that is dominated by the big players,” explained Minchin.

“At Naked Wines we, along with our Angel customers, believe delicious affordable wines should be an everyday pleasure – not a privilege. We are proud of the winemakers we support, and the growth we have seen since launch in 2012.”

How would you describe your e-commerce business model? What key features differentiate your offering?

“Our business model is unique and created to disrupt the industry. We seek out hero independent winemakers and set them up for success by taking care of the cashflow, sales, regulations and the back office admin. We create an environment where they can focus on what they are passionate about and very talented at – making incredible wine, and we are proud that we create the space for innovation in the wine industry,” Minchin said.

“Our Angel customers help us directly support all our Naked winemakers so that all the maker has to do is make great wine that they really want to make. We then offer their wines back to our Angel customers at exclusive preferential prices. It creates a virtuous circle where everyone wins. Our strategic vision powers the mantra that ‘the more Angel customers there are, the more hero winemakers we can liberate, the more amazing wines we can create’. The potential for sustainable growth is unlimited. It’s really simple.”

Congratulations on ranking in Power Retail’s Top 100 Online Retailers list! What initiatives have you undertaken over the last 12-months that you believe contributed to this result?

“Thank you! Our business is grounded in customer centricity so I am not surprised. We have a team that is incredibly passionate about what we are achieving in the wine industry – the fairness, diversity and innovation – so that permeates all we do,” Minchin said.

“We have created a unique community where interactive discussions are encouraged between the winemaker and the customer – whenever possible we get out of the way and let the magic happen! The Naked Wines business thrives on the relationship our customers have with our winemakers and the complete transparency that goes with that. They are directly funding the winemakers’ projects so we built a social website platform so the customer and winemaker can directly communicate, and its an incredible way to get direct feedback from customers. It’s a core pillar.”

  • “We encourage our customers to rate each wine they have bought through a very intuitive and simple user experience. We have in excess of 1.6m wine ratings which gives our customers confidence in the wine that they are buying and trying. This feedback then helps the winemaker improve the next vintage, creating an instant feedback loop!
  • “Customer in the driving seat: We get customers involved in lots of our business decisions through polling functionality and listening to feedback throughout our community and forums:
    • e.g. product related (should we make a gin?);
    • help a winemaker with the tough decisions (label names, label design);
    • fund a new dream of a winemaker? E.g. Funding a winemaker to go to Sicily to learn about winemaking techniques there, and bring back to Australia to incorporate into her own winemaking techniques (Winemaker Fantasy campaign)”

Do you have any developments on the horizon? For example, any new product launches, new markets, improved functionality plans?

“We are giving the power back to our customers in a very direct way. Our customers’ feedback is the most important information to help us direct our business. We have always had a money back guarantee available for anyone who didn’t love a particular wine, but now we are taking that one step further. When a wine is rated lower than our benchmarks by customers who should have liked it, we will drop the price of that wine and automatically refund the difference to an Angel’s account,” explained Minchin.

In a perfect world, what sort of goals would your business be kicking five years from now? Do you think these goals are achievable?

“We believe this is the right direction for the wine industry, to ensure that small, independent winemakers can thrive, and that customers that want to support them can have access to that incredible wine at a fair price. Australian and New Zealand wine is a huge part of our culture and we want to ensure the passion and innovation of these incredibly talented people is celebrated.”

What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Australian e-commerce businesses, and what could be done to address these? What are the biggest opportunities?

“There is opportunity in this market to continue to drive to support our small and independent businesses so that passion, diversity and innovation continues to thrive.”

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