SOUTH AFRICA: Cautious approach to internet wine sales
Colin Collard, MD of the Wine-of-the-Month Club, which has a client base of 25,000 regulars, said it was still "early days" for the new medium - and that while the internet would ultimately influence buying patterns - wine sellers should be wary of placing too much hope on this new selling vehicle right now.
He cited the recent folding of the US-based Virtual Vineyards, which earlier this year re-launched itself as www.wine.com, then folded last month. "They reputedly invested $US50m in developing and marketing the site during 1999 and 2000.
"On the local front www wineways.co.za, which spent R9m building an advanced e-commerce enabled website, liquidated in March.
"We will be happy if we attract an additional 8-10% worth of sales through selling on-line. At the end of the day we expect our website to indirectly bolster business, but to sell purely on the internet at this stage is a pipe dream," he said.
He said the main internet wine business was still being done business-to-business and not to the consumer. He cited research in the US which showed that only 0.7% of households in that country actually purchased wine on-line and that an insignificant 11,000 new households would join this trend this year, considering the size of the country.
The same applied in the UK where he said a recent survey showed that only 2% of UK internet users planned to buy wine over the internet. "That's a pretty insignificant percentage," he said.
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