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Online global wine marketplace to host virtual shops

Published:  20 September, 2013

A new interactive online global wine marketplace is being launched to challenge "inefficient" retail websites that offer "no social engagement", according to its founder Paul Gerken.

Set to launch in Singapore in October, WineFamily aims to allow retailers based anywhere in the world to open virtual shops to manage independently and allow wine sellers immediate access to consumers - and the consumers to some of the best pricing available.

The company that ready has the likes of Chilean producer Concha y Toro on board has the primary aim of bringing scale to a fragmented industry, by allowing small-to-medium-sized retailers and wineries of any size to outsource their social and e-commerce costs, while giving them opportunities to market directly to the buying public.

Sellers will be able to set their own pricing, upload their portfolio, create discount coupons, monitor their sales statistics and complete their orders. Integration with the site's social network, Grapevine, gives sellers complete control over social marketing and instant access to a community of wine buyers.

The site's reviews section also allows users to verify the credibility of WineFamily-hosted shops, and each vendor can keep its followers updated on any new promotions, reviews, purchases, information, trends or events.

Gerken, who has travelled across Asia negotiating partnerships with wine importers and building regional marketing strategies, said: "The current industry model, which sees every winery, importer and retailer having to sink capital into a website that offers no social engagement should be defunct. It's inefficient and results in many losers who cannot keep pace with larger companies. WineFamily offers a solution that brings many industry players together on to one wine-commerce online site, and uses that scale to increase sales for its vendors.

"A crowded industry fighting for space hampers the wine industry at every level and makes the process of wine sales incredibly difficult."

Concha y Toro regional director for Asia, Guy Nussey, said: "Concha y Toro sees the advantages of selling online directly to consumers, in particular being able to engage with our consumers and tell more of the stories behind our wines, the winemakers and terroir, which are difficult to communicate at a retail level. 

"It also gives us the opportunity to sell small parcels of some of our special wines, which wouldn't usually be available to consumers. The other very important benefit of WineFamily is that we can do this with a much lower cost than setting up our own direct-sales online platform."

WineFamily is currently in its beta testing phase and after its official launch this October will gradually roll out across other Southeast Asian markets over the next year, with eyes on mature markets in the future.