My biggest fear
I am new to starting up a business, new to selling wines, new to eCommerce, new to Facebook, and just when I thought I have finally done it all, I am writing my first blog.
My first blog indeed, and certainly it has to do with wines. I look forward to the day I can blog about other topics.
So The Wine Stable is launched, finally, maybe not officially, since we still have 36 labels which are awaiting arrival. But the website is up and running, and the word is out.
My biggest fear about running this business isn't whether our wines will sell (maybe indirectly, yes, this is a worry ultimately), but it is that potential customers may look at the prices of our wines and assume our wines are the cheap, low grade, supermarket-quality wines, while people in the wine industry (aka our competitors) may curse us for 'spoiling the market'.
Because Singaporeans are used to good wines being expensive here. On top of the high (and recently higher) liquor duty imposed by the government, Sin Tax as they call it, there is also the exorbitant high mark-up imposed by the wine retailers. Do a research, choose any wine you can find here in Singapore, be it in Cold Storage, NTUC Fairprice, online wine shops or the various wine boutiques around the island (we won't even talk about the restaurants!), key in the label and vintage and run a search online to see how much the other countries are retailing them for. A $15 dollar Australian wine in Australia will easily go for $40 here in Singapore, at least. Ridiculous? You tell me. Sure, temperature-controlled shipping and storage costs are high, and add another $9 for the liquor duty.... But does it have to sell for $40? No. If you have lean operating costs, do direct channel sales and do not impose cut-throat mark-up. The same wine will probably cost $26 at The Wine Stable. Some of our wines actually retail at the same price at their home country.
But will someone look at our $26 wine and be willing to try it? Because a typical $26 wine may roughly equate a Two-Buck Chuck quality here. This is my fear indeed.
So how am I to convince Singaporeans that these are premium quality wines? The surest way is to let them try. So this is what I am setting out to do. The Wine Stable will be conducting several free wine-tasting sessions around Singapore, and sponsoring various community and charity events in order to get more people to have a chance to try our wines, for free. Let the wines speak for themselves!
As for the other fear regarding 'spoiling the market', I like to see our pricing strategy as our way of EXPANDING the market. By making good wines more affordable, we can help encourage more people to enjoy wines here in Singapore. I hope this strategy works. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, keep a look out on this space again for details on our various wine tasting sessions.