Online wine retailer Vinomofo will be delving into the world of bricks-and-mortar for the first time with the launch of a Melbourne pop-up store to open just before Christmas.
Running from December 22 to 24, Vinomofo’s store will be based in the company’s newly opened Port Melbourne warehouse and will showcase some of the wines the company has on offer.
Vinomofo co-founder Justin Dry told SmartCompany the pop-up was intended to promote the company’s first own warehouse while also connecting more with customers.
“We want to make a really cool customer experience by setting up a retail tasting area in a section of our warehouse,” Dry says.
“We think this provides more opportunity for person-to-person interaction with customers and to create some real customer engagement.”
Dry says although in this instance the focus will be on Christmas, the pop-up will become a “semi-regular thing”, with a potential once per month timeline.
“The whole team’s really been getting involved. We want to get closer to all our mofos.”
Vinomofo has been in business for five years, starting up in an Adelaide garage in 2011. Since then the online wine retailer has gone from strength to strength, coming in at number 31 in 2015’s Smart50 with an annual revenue of $28.7 million, and securing a $25 million investment to start expansion in Singapore and California earlier this year.
The founders told SmartCompany’s sister publication StartupSmart last month news of Vinomofo’s international expansion had “spread like wildfire”.
“Singapore is a great wine market, quite mature, not huge, but a really good wine audience and great food scene over there,” Vinomofo co-founder Andre Eikmeier told StartupSmart.
A “smooth” experience more businesses should try
As for the pop-up, Dry says the whole experience has gone smoothly so far, with his only challenges being making sure the company was legally able to serve wine.
“We had to make sure all our staff had Responsible Service of Alcohol certification, but thankfully most of them have been in this space for quite a few years so that wasn’t an issue,” Dry says.
The company had applied for an alcohol licence for the whole warehouse but settled for a temporary one while the pop-up runs.
“Most of the issues have been around ensuring the whole thing is properly licensed, so it hasn’t been too challenging,” he says.
“We’ll probably learn a few things from the whole experience, but I’m confident in my team, they’ve got lots of experience.”
Dry thinks more businesses should give pop-up stores a chance, believing it’s a great way to achieve “real” customer interaction. In Vinomofo’s case, it allows the business to overcome one of the greatest challenges with online wine retailing.
“One of the challenges for us is that there’s a large part of the market that needs to taste and hold the wine before purchasing. It’s hard to provide that experience in an online environment,” Dry says.
“Also a lot of our deals are quite good, so this gives potential customers a chance to taste the wine and to see that it isn’t too good to be true.”
“A lot of businesses are trying pop-ups for this very reason. It lets customers experience the product and it goes a long way to reducing hesitancy for people buying online.”