Australian DTC provider WithWine has raised more than $1.2m capital ahead of the IPO it has planned for the coming months.
The raise is the second consecutive seven figure capital raise for the business, founded by Richard Owens. Since being established in 2015, the business has wine sales in excess of $41m and is experiencing growth of 25 per cent from quarter to quarter.
Mr Owens said, “This latest capital raise will enable us to secure our position within the wine industry in Australia, grow abroad, and continue to provide genuine value for our winery clients and their customers over the long term. We’re not here to make a quick buck.”
WithWine describes itself as “a platform for wineries of all sizes where they can grow their businesses and foster long-term customer loyalty”.
Its pitch is to wineries looking to increase the size of their direct-to-customer base and WithWine currently counts wineries including Henschke, Leeuwin Estate and Peterson’s as clients. WithWine have recently signed two wineries in New Zealand but, says Mr Owens, “We do have an eye for the US.”
“We came to the market with the intention of making wine easier to sell direct, by making it easier for customers to buy direct and we’re thrilled how keen the industry is to prioritise our customer-centric approach,” says Mr Owens.
Direct-to-consumer (often referred to as DtC) sales have never been more important for wineries. The onset of COVID-19 in 2020 accelerated e-commerce with reports from data analyst Statista that 72 per cent of the population shopping online and eCommerce users expected to grow by 12 per cent to 20 million users in Australia in 2024.
WithWine supported the digital shift that many wineries had to make in a short period of time.
“The lockdowns and border closures forced wineries to re-evaluate the security of their traditional sales channels,” explains Richard Owens.
“Regular winery consumers want to support their favourite wineries and support the Aussie economy but without a modern online presence or appropriate facility to re-engage with previous visitors, wineries were consistently missing out on the more profitable opportunities for repeat sales.”
Originally intended to be an app -an online marketplace for wineries – when it came to embedding the app, Owens hit an unexpected wall.
“It was intended to be the ultimate wine experience for customers – an additional direct to consumer (DTC) channel that complimented a winery’s existing DTC infrastructure,” said Owens.
“The app needed to integrate with that (DTC) infrastructure. However, that’s when we discovered that wineries did not have the infrastructure or what they had was too old and unable to connect with the app or just wasn’t smart enough. So, we built it,” he recalls.
Owens built a commercial framework that could support the wineries’ commercial business, safely and securely capture customer data and act as a marketing tool when needed.
Former General Manager of Cellarmasters, Ben Copeman-Hill, joined the venture in mid-2020.
“WithWine’s state-of-the-art technology genuinely supports wineries to help them grow their direct to consumer businesses with best practice data management and gives customers a way to shop winery cellar doors online without feeling daunted and overwhelmed. We have seen during COVID’19 how important this is becoming,” he said.
Photo credit Dominic Loneragan