This post belongs to an ongoing series about the Naked MarketPlace, a website that allows any winemaker to pitch wines to the UK market
Another big topic of discussion regarding the Naked Marketplace is how it compares to the Advanced Booking system it replaced.
How Advanced Booking Worked
Naked Wines used to offer one special advanced booking deal at a time. This would be an opportunity similar to wine futures where customers bought wine that hadn’t even been bottled yet. Sometimes, they bought wine before it had even been picked.
By buying very early, customers would receive preferential pricing. The longer they waited, the more the price went up. Sort of like booking RyanAir flights.
The adjacent screenshot shows what a typical offer interface looked like.
Note that the price in the screenshot is identical for the vine, winery and bottle pricing. This just means that the wine had already been bottled when the offer went live on the website, so the earliest you could buy was in bottle. Sorry I couldn’t find a better example in my archives!
Naked Marketplace Similarities
The new MarketPlace system works on a similar concept since winemakers are pitching their wines before the bottles even enter the UK (or before Naked has committed to buying the bottles for that matter). There’s a similar sense of delayed gratification. If you commit your money a few weeks ahead of time, you get the wine at a discounted price. And this is rooted in the similar basis of commiting to buying a wine early on to let the winemaker save on the cost of production, bottling, storage and shipping.
There are also smaller technical similarities that will only make sense to people who are used to the NW interface (eg no cashback on advanced bookings, only one case per customer, advanced booking cases can’t be grouped with other orders)
Naked Marketplace Differences
There are a host of differences in the innovative new system too. Otherwise it wouldn’t be very innovative!
The biggest source of conversation I’ve seen has been this notion that the Marketplace deals don’t always succeed. In the old Advanced Booking system, if you made a bid, you knew you’d get your case at the price you bid. Because even if hardly anybody bought the advanced booking, Naked would be able to sell the wine at full price once the shipment arrived. On the marketplace, if people don’t buy enough wine to hit the winemaker’s minimum quantity, then the deal is cancelled and bids are refunded. Some people find this is disappointing or frustrating compared to the old system where a bid meant you were getting your wine.
There’s a reason for the system to work this way though. Customers are dealing directly with winemakers to try to broker a deal. If the winemaker and angels fail to drive enough support for a wine, that’s life.
And honestly, the results speak for themselves. Despite the fact that some people are resisting the change, a look at the list of successful purchases on the MarketPlace shows they’ve sold 8916 bottles since the marketplace launched its first deals on the 17th of May (30 days ago).
In the old advanced booking system you had one deal at a time. And those deals often lasted three weeks on the site. Often deals were just for a couple hundred cases (as they are on marketplace as well). That means the advanced booking system would often take two or three weeks to move just 600-1200 bottles. The marketplace clearly offers more selection.
Gatekeeper versus Platform
Instead of acting as a gatekeeper who selects which deal to feature on the advanced booking section of the site, Naked Wines now allows all the world’s winemakers to simultaneously make offers in the marketplace. Some people might argue that having more choice is bad, but they can always go to the other section of the site and buy one of the pre-mixed cases that have been selected by Naked Wines or personalities like Jamie Oliver.
I personally love the idea of a wine importer stepping back and giving the market a chance to decide to bring in new wines.
There are hundreds of gatekeepers in the wine business. Critics, importers, and so on. But there are virtually no opportunities like this one that are a truly open platform anybody can use to promote their wines in the country.
Sure the site mechanics are a little more sophisticated and therefore complicated. And auctions are more complicated than retail shops, but there are benefits to auctions that make the model attractive for a lot of people. Since the wine business is entirely too legislated and closed, it can benefit tremendously from this kind of open platform system.
And the usual suspects at naked wines (winemakers who have already established a fan base) no longer have to wait and hope that their wines go up on advanced booking. We can choose to offer a special discount whenever we want. And maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but customers could start reclaiming certain winemakers or wines too. If enough people posted on my wall asking for a certain wine to come back, I would definitely pitch it on the marketplace.
Innovation is a bumpy road
I know the new system is ruffling some feathers, but I think the sales show that a lot of people are enjoying the new system! It might be useful to remember that the advanced booking system launched just one year before the marketplace. It seemed weird and new back then too. But now we’re used to it. And I bet that in 12 months, Naked will have discovered some new way to innovate the wine business and we’ll be talking about how we really got used to and love the marketplace! ;D