With nearly 10 percent of my posts in the past couple of weeks being about some alcohol-related website, I’m at risk of appearing obsessed with booze. Nonetheless, here’s another such site, this time a Shanghai-based startup called Heritage Wine Club. As well as being a conventional online seller of premium wines, it also aims to be the leading subscription e-commerce (subcom) offering on the wine market in China.
The CEO and founder of Heritage Wine Club is Adrien Fabry, who’s originally from France. He explains that the subcom element entails a monthly subscription of between 500 and 2,000 RMB (US$80 to $320), depending on the package (I mean, the “bouquet”), for users to receive a box full of wines delivered to their doorstep. To ensure a good selection each month, Heritage Wine Club has enlisted some expert help. Adrien explains why this is being done:
In the wine market – not only in China – people are lost and need strong references. So the subcom model helps them to make wise decisions when it comes to buying wine, especially as the bottles are selected by Andreas Larsson, one of the best sommeliers in the world. It brings advice in a ‘wild’ environment.
And so the team regularly meets with Andreas in Bordeaux to work on the selections (see the video below), and believes that discovery and education are an important part of the business. There are also wine-tasting sessions organized, and there’s a strong emphasis on guiding drinkers on how to best enjoy the wine, with advice on what foods best match the bottle.
The site plans to keep the line-up very selective, and Adrien says “we will never have more than 50 products on our platform. We don’t want our members to get lost in the choice between 2,000 products.”
In addition to the subcom packages and the conventional online selling, Heritage Wine Club also holds flash sales for some premium wines, and has programs dubbed iCellar (storage space for true connoisseurs who have huge collections), and Cellar BuildUp (to help fill some space with the right vintages).
Offering all these extra features, Adrien reckons that Heritage Wine Club doesn’t have too much competition from larger e-commerce sites in the country, such as the well-established Jiuxian or the recently-launched and very flashy WangJiu. There are some startups in the space too, such as TasteV with its very social approach to enjoying fine wines.
Here’s a five-minute video of the expert sommelier in action for Heritage Wine Club:
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