Digital Wine Ventures (ASX: DW8) has followed up its recent eBay partnership with news it is teaming up with leading fine wine and beverage distributor Bibendum Wine Co.
The partnership will see a “substantial” amount of Bibendum’s international and Australian products available on Digital Wine’s soon to be launched direct-to-trade WineDepot Market platform.
According to Digital Wine, Bibendum is one of “Australia’s most successful fine wine and beverage distribution businesses” – representing about 160 local and international wine producers as well as craft spirits.
It has a strong focus on imports of “highly sought after ultra-premium labels” from Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Hungary and South Africa.
Robert Walters founded Bibendum in 2004 along with a “prestigious” Victorian organic vineyard and winery located in the state’s Macedon Ranges.
Digital Wines also noted that Mr Walters is a co-founder of e-commerce company Wine Planet which was Australia’s first publicly listed online wine business before it was acquired by Fosters’ subsidiary Cellarmaster Wines in 2001.
Digital Wines chief executive officer Dean Taylor said the partnership with Bibendum had “immense potential” to “dramatically accelerate” the adoption of the company’s online trading platform.
“This partnership allows us to leverage Bibendum’s unique product range, highly experienced sales force, long-term customer relationships and revered presence within the industry to drive rapid awareness of the benefits that our marketplace provides to trade buyers.”
Under the deal, Bibendum will invest in technology to streamline the customer onboarding process to WineDepot Market.
The customers Bibendum introduces to WineDepot Market will receive a $250 incentive voucher for one time use.
WineDepot will pay Bibendum marketing and referral fees for each trade buyer that participates on WineDepot Market.
If the promotion proves successful, Digital Wines will issue Bibendum with 20 million shares.
Simplified onboarding process
Additionally, both companies have noted the onboarding process for trade buyers will need to be simplified. As such, the parties will integrate their respective IT systems to allow new customer accounts to be opened with “just one or two clicks”.
Mr Taylor pointed out the technical integration will delay the full partnership launch until late April, but it would smooth the onboarding process and will be “repaid and easily offset” by “higher-than-expected” customers from day one of the business.
Although the full launch of the partnership will be delayed, Digital Wines will proceed with a “soft launch” of WineDepot Market before the end of the month.
“Access will be initially restricted to a very small group of buyers who will be given the task of trying to break the system,” Mr Taylor said.
“Only once we are satisfied our e-commerce site, enabling technology systems and supporting logistics infrastructure is robust enough for rapid scaling, will we start inviting customers onto the platform one market at a time.”
Direct Couriers partnership
To underpin the anticipated growth, Direct Couriers has agreed to develop a dedicated delivery fleet to primarily fulfil WineDepot’s trade and on-demand orders in major metro areas.
Digital Wines said this partnership will enable WineDepot to provide and maintain a “superior” service for orders for its soon to be launched direct-to-trade WineDepot Market.
“Providing an exceptional last mile experience is critical to the success of WineDepot Market and the only way we can avoid orders generated on the platform from getting caught up in general network congestion is to have our own dedicated fleet,” Mr Taylor explained.
“Direct Couriers has invested heavily in technology and a reputation of providing one of the highest service levels in the industry,” he added.