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Vivino switches up UK strategy

Published:  18 August, 2023

Vivino, the wine scoring and recommendations app, is switching up its ecommerce strategy in the UK, where it will no longer be pursuing direct sales and is instead leaning on its network of indie merchants.

Vivino has established itself as the world’s most downloaded wine app since it was founded in 2010, growing from 27 million users globally in 2018, to 42 million users in 2020 and 65 million today. It currently boasts 3 million users in the UK.

Now, Harpers can exclusively reveal that the company will no longer be pursuing its UK wine sales business, which sources and sell wines directly to the Vivino community. Instead, it will be solely using its network of around 60 independent merchants, who fulfil orders nationwide.

“The mission hasn’t changed,” COO Nick Bell (pictured), told Harpers. “Vivino was founded to help make wine more simple, as it can be a fiendishly complicated category. Consumers often find it hard to cut through and make the right decision. They buy on autopilot end up not discovering new things.

“We started in ecommerce by building a network of wine merchants to provide products to customers. In the early stages, we supported that by buying the wine ourselves. But in the UK right now, the merchant base is incredibly healthy. We’re at the point where we don’t need direct sales as our merchant partners are able to look after our customers really well, with a breadth of wine on offer.”

Vivino has established a strong marketplace globally. It currently boasts 1,100 merchants worldwide, across 17 markets, with around 60 in its UK network.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do [ecommerce in the UK] without a strong indie network. Supply has got harder in the past two years, particularly in small quantities. But our merchants have a real assortment of wines,” Bell said.

He also spoke about its business model. Vivino’s model is twofold: over the past ten years, it has developed both the community side of the business – helping consumers to make wine buying decisions – and the ecommerce, which uses a mixture of direct sales and merchant partnerships within its global network.

Recently, Vivino has been allocating funding towards the former.

“Ecommerce has had an awful lot of investment in recent years. So, we’re rebalancing a little, in order to innovate in user products, as we haven’t really brought out anything entirely new in some time,” Bell said.

One example of Vivino’s recent digital innovation is the ‘Match For You’ feature. Launched 18 months ago, it offers a personalised score for wines, by drawing on the data profile of a user’s specific preferences.

One of Vivino’s focuses now includes branching into accessible wine education for those who are interested in delving deeper. It is also looking to continue to centralise its intelligence and operations.

Before the pandemic, Vivino operated more so on a local basis, with teams focused on growing specific markets. There has been a shift, however. In 2023, the business has learned that most markets “have more in common with each other, than differences”.

Bell added: “It’s one of the advantages of working globally. If something is working in one market, can we deploy it across others. One of the things we’ve learned is that it’s difficult to do low price-point wines through ecommerce. So, we’re focused on finding that sweet spot for consumers and our merchants.”