Economy

Vinomofo taps into the ‘mystery box’ trend taking off in online retail

Melinda Oliver /

Online wine retailer Vinomofo has tapped into the ‘mystery box’ trend that has taken off on online retail sites, as companies strive for a point of difference in an increasingly competitive market.

Vinomofo has launched a new incentive called The Cube, which sees customers receive a ‘mystery box’ of nine wines delivered to their doorstep.

It is one of a series of mystery delivery incentives being launched by online retailers in Australia and overseas.

In Australia, beauty product distributor BellaBox offers a mailed monthly box of beauty samples to customers. Cofounder and chief executive Sarah Hamilton told StartupSmart the brand started with delivering 350 boxes in 2011, and it now mails out over 10,000 each month.

In the US fashion site stitchfix.com is leading the charge, delivering customers a mystery selection of five apparel items that they think will suit their appearance and lifestyle. Customers send back the items that don’t suit, enabling the business to refine its knowledge of the customer so the packages become more tailored to their taste.

Even well-established online retailers such as travel booking business lastminute.com offer mystery aspects, with customers offered the choice of booking a mystery hotel that they don’t get details of until it is booked and paid for.

Vinomofo’s mystery delivery box includes five red wines, three white wines and a surprise bottle.

Vinomofo cofounder Andre Eikmeier told SmartCompany that mystery deliveries are one of the strongest revenue drivers for the business.

He explains that they give Vinomofo the ability to strike deals with wine suppliers and get the wines out to customers to try, without the price of the wines being the focus.

Eikmeier says it is vital to “set the wow factor” when offering a mystery box service and to ensure that what you offer customers is good quality and great value.

“You can’t compromise on surprise,” he says. “The temptation can be to clear excess stock … but you have to over-deliver on the surprise.”

The mystery box system can only work when customers come to “trust your business” and believe you are offering them the best options, he explains.

“You have to build an operation of trust so that they are happy to be guided by your recommendations,” he says.

He also advises businesses to “back yourself” when offering mystery deliveries, and give customers a 100%, no questions asked, happiness guarantee.

Vinomofo placed second in the 2013 SmartCompany – Crowe Horwath Smart50 Awards, achieving three years of consecutive revenue growth.

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