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Wines Direct offers insights as well as new customers for major online wine players

Published:  20 June, 2014

Specialist online aggregator site, Wines Direct, is now able to give its users the chance to pick out the most popular wines by price, style, country or brand from the UK's leading multiple wine retail sites based on the behavior of its 130,000 unique users a month.

The site, which was first launched back in 2008 as primarily a price comparison site, was re-launched in April to offer its users an intelligent aggregated offer of wines based on the behavior of its users, their reviews and feedback.

Wines Direct does not complete any transactions itself, but instead offers users a selection of wines taken from the leading top 20 wine sites in the country, which is extended to include more specialist and independent merchants sites, based on a range of search opportunities, be it wines at certain price points, from specific countries or regions or by grape variety.

It takes its share of any sale made through the site through individual deals with its online partners, be it a referral fee, a click through fee, actual percentage of the final sale or a bounty-style fee for finding new customers.

Crucially it allows users to see the historical price history of any wine to see the average price it is sold at during the year, how that compares to its current price and what level of promotions that wine is using throughout the year. The site also allows customers to set a price where they would like to be alerted when that wine reaches that particular price point.

This sets it apart, claimed Wines Direct director, Jon Robuck who founded the site with Chris Mattingly, from wine price comparison sites where all the emphasis is looking for the right deal at any one time.

"By customers being able to see the historical pricing data for any wine they can see when they might want to buy that particular wine," he told

Online wine intelligence

Robuck hopes the site will become increasingly seen as a partner to supermarket and other leading wine retail sites as not only does it offer a way to attract new customers, but can provide real intelligence on the kind of wines, styles, and price points that its database of 130,000 people are looking for.  "We can now provide unique and quantified data to the wine Industry and brand owners about wine consumers' search and purchasing habits, across a regular survey of over 130,000 people," explained Robuck.

It is able to track the average price point by brand, country, grape variety and region, over a 52 week period, together with top searches by country, brand, style and grape variety, alongside a demographic breakdown of visitors to the site.

It is looking to build an online insights service, where it can work with brand owners and supermarkets and provide them with qualitative information regarding who is buying their wine, and identifying market trends, via regular surveys to its 40,000 database.

For example, Wines Direct has found that Prosecco is the most searched for wine product online, and Oyster Bay, is the most sought-after brand.

Wine consultant and former Somerfield wine buyer, Angela Mount, has been brought in to help raise the content level on the site and provide regular more in-depth information on the wines being offered.

She was able, for example, to pick out her selection of the top 10 Waitrose wines available from its recent 25% off promotion.

Mount is also working on the content for its weekly newsletter which goes out to 40,000 UK wine consumers from which Wines Direct is getting a 8% click through success rate, said Robuck.

She said: "For years, we, as an Industry have been debating how to engage effectively with the wine consumer - the high click-through rate on Wines Direct proves wine drinkers do want guidance and advice, but want to find the best wines and the best deals for any occasion, from the comfort of an online search. We can communicate far better and more effectively this way, rather than via an in-store point of purchase , thus giving brand owners the platform to market their brands directly to their audience, with a measurable reach and engagement level. 

"I spent many years wondering how to communicate at the point of sale. Seeing over 12,000 comments and ratings on the wines, proves that Wines Direct are successfully engaging and educating in a 'non- stuffy' way, and creating an online community, which they will continue to expand."

Wines Direct hopes to build on the consumer interface on the site and already has 12,000 customer ratings for the wines featured on the website.

Gap in the market

Robuck said they launched the site "because we felt there was a gap in the market for a site to appeal to the non - expert wine drinker who wanted to know about the best wine deals available from online merchants".

"Since then, we've evolved the website dramatically. The site now carries not only information on where to find the best prices for over 20,000 products, but also some of the most detailed, and consumer -friendly background information on wine brands, to be found on any single website."

David Mattingly, online marketing manager, said: "Over the last two years, we have received more and more requests for wine information and advice, over and above the general price comparison queries. This proved that we needed to upweight our content, in order to provide valuable information on wine styles, regions, grape varieties , top supermarket choices, and brands, to our audience."

He added: "In stores, people are scared to ask questions, and are full of uncertainty as to which wine to buy, so default to the promotional aisle."

 Robuck likened the site to an "online wine guide, with a weekly column, no different to the national newspapers, except that our readers can click through and immediately purchase online, rather than have to take a newspaper recommendation and go to the relevant store".