Here at TradeGecko, we’ve worked with customers with all kinds of business models in industries ranging from jewelry to craft beers.Because we interact with such a wide array of interesting clients, it takes a lot to stand out. For this case study however, we stumbled upon a particularly unique business that we thought would be interesting to our readers.
The French Cellar
We recently paid a visit to one of our clients, Singapore-based The French Cellar. One of Asia’s hottest startups, The French Cellar imports French wines directly from vineyards after a careful selection process by sommelier Mr. Nicolas Rebut, the former Chef Sommelier of 3-star Michelin restaurants Louis XV (Monaco) and Le Meurice (Paris).
What differentiates The French Cellar from the multitude of other wine merchants in Singapore is their business model. The French Cellar has an ambitious strategy to bring the Wine Subscription E-commerce Model into Asia - and so far, it seems to be working.
Riding the explosive growth wave of the Asia market is just a pipe dream for many startups, but The French Cellar has tapped into a niche at exactly the right time, with a pretty interesting marketing strategy to boot.
For instance, a whimsical article titled ‘Pairing Singaporean dishes and French wines’ encapsulates the central challenge of introducing a western tradition to Asia. On the one hand, the gradual adoption of western practices in Asia is all but inevitable. Nevertheless, cultural differences will continue to exist. Wine culture in Singapore for instance, will be different from wine culture elsewhere.
Although wine is fast gaining traction in Asia - China became the world’s largest wine market in 2013, the general population is still not particularly educated about wine.
The French Cellar is capitalizing on this opportunity - the population is eager to dive deeper into wine culture, they're just not sure where to start.
The sommelier curated subscription model is a great way for wine novices to familiarize themselves with the available options.
The Business Model: customer facing
Starting at just SGD79/month for their Vineyard Gems subscription, customers get 2 bottles of wine selected by a 3-star Michelin sommelier every month, alongside a tasting guide. On the other end of the spectrum at , customers can also subscribe to Cellar Icons, described as an exclusive tasting experience with exceptional, limited production wines made up of vintages that can be enjoyed now or stored for years.
If customers receive bottles that they particularly like, they can place reorders through a shopping cart system. In addition to the bottles that are available through the subscription service, the selection of individually sold bottles is also impressive. Starting at around SGD50 per bottle, it also conveniently highlights the affordability of their subscription model.
Singapore's alcohol is amongst the most expensive in the world, and since the French Cellar's subscription per bottle prices are on-par with typical supermarket wine prices, it's almost a no-brainer for wine enthusiasts.
The first delivery is made within 2 weeks, so customers don't have to wait too long before receiving their first delivery. Subsequent deliveries happen around the 15th of the month.
Wine events are also a part of the French Cellar business model - monthly wine tastings for instance, is a good way for customers to familiarize themselves with wine culture. Events are held monthly and are always very popular, often involving joint events with restaurants or other food vendors.
In addition, the French Cellar run Private Sales. With time-contingent offers, it adds a level of urgency and excitement for consumers that enjoy eBay style shopping. With the holidays coming up, there's also the option to gift subscriptions to friends and family.
It's clear that like most modern retailers, the French Cellar has embraced the notion of multichannel sales and capitalized on the different opportunities available on the market. Different consumers will want to buy in different ways, and it's important for modern retailers to deliver these different purchasing options.
By catering to different buying needs, the French Cellar's model is buyer centric and allows the consumers to make their own decisions about what, how, and when to buy. By deviating from the traditional brick-and-mortar wine business model, it's easy to set up alternative sales models, especially ones that incorporate bulk purchasing.
Unlike many wine businesses, the French Cellar source all of their stock from the one sommelier in France. With one solid and consistent purchasing channel, subscribers can feel rest assured that stock is be earmarked for them all the way up the supply chain.
The French Cellar's operations have expanded considerably since they first started using TradeGecko. We spoke with the French Cellar's COO Eric Joubert to find out a bit more how TradeGecko has transformed the way that they run their business.
How much time was spent on managing inventory before TradeGecko? How much time do you spend now?
The time spent on doing manual work in Excel was definitely costly! TradeGecko automates a lot of this process for me, allowing me to spend more time on growing my business.
What problems were you having before that led you to search for an inventory management solution?
We were managing our inventory through Excel, which was fine in the beginning but progressively generated more and more manual work. As our operations became more complex, the risk of accidentally selling sold-out items due to different channels. We needed a dynamic solution, and an easy way to share inventory information with all the relevant stakeholders. Our site is run off WooCommerce and it's important to us that the backend solution we chose could integrate with our shopping cart.
This became even more apparent as we started adding new distribution channels. Although our primary sales channel is still through a subscription program, we also have to manage reorders - which often happens when someone receives a subscription bottle that they particularly like and want more of.
We also run a WooCommerce powered eCommerce store, where people can buy our bottles through a shopping cart system. In addition, we also do some catering for events, so that’s a potential avenue for sales as well.
Managing so many different sales channels became tedious in Excel after awhile. I needed a solution to consolidate all of these sales channels and automate this process as much as possible.
What's your favorite TradeGecko feature?
Having immediate visibility into stock levels and being able to share that information easily with other stakeholders is just one of the amazing features we love about TradeGecko! We can also see historical movements of each individual SKU, which is a great tool for us to better understand our inventory.
Images: Courtesy of The French Cellar website