Canada, a big bright spot in Australia’s wine exports, has turned the tables and starting exporting wine technology back to Australia.
The Blackboxx ecommerce solution quickly became big in Canada following a relaxing of alcohol sales regulations allowing a freer flow of alcohol from province to province.
Several larger vineyards in Australia have recently started using Blackboxx — McWilliam’s, De Bortoli, and Angove — just a small part of Australia’s 2,500 wineries.
But the smaller vineyards can compete on processing and delivery if they can build their customer base.
The margins are better when selling a bottle of wine direct to a consumer. At least half, and likely a lot more, the price of a bottle is lost when sold through a bottle shop or restaurant.
The best solution is to sell online.
The trouble in Australia is that few of the small wineries can afford to develop their own ecommerce system, maintain it and keep updating it.
Many of the smaller wineries still operate by paper and fax machine or take orders via email and then do the fulfilment by hand.
Howards Vineyard, a small winery in the Adelaide Hills, says its investment in the cloud-based Blackboxx was paid back in just two months.
Marketing manager Nick Whiteway, a former tech sector manager, says he’s used ecommerce software before and found it cumbersome.
“We’re tiny,” he says. “There’s three people who work at Howard. There’s myself, the winemaker and the cellar door manager.
“I’m physically driving to bottle shops and restaurants doing the deals. I manage our website, I manage all our brand marketing and I pack pallets at the back of the winery.”
The Howards Vineyard website now allows customers to order in a few clicks.
Matthew Protti, CEO of BlackSquare, the developer of Blackboxx, says purchasing decisions for wine are the same the world over but Australia’s adoption of technology for wine sales is still low.
“But when Australians adopt something they do it quickly and wholeheartedly,” he says. “That’s what we’re seeing. We see potential for it becoming one of the world’s most important wine ecommerce markets.”
Australia’s wine exports fell 7 per cent in September. The bright spot was a surge in bulk wine exports to Canada, according to Rabobank’s November Agribusiness Monthly.
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