Reimagining the bottle shop experience

23 January, 2020 by Deborah Jackson

It’s been a solid 12 months of growth for online wine retailer, Good Pair Days. After raising $2 million in funding in late 2018, the business which initially launched as The Wine Gallery, not only rebranded and launched a new website and app, but it also won best Online Liquor Retailer at the Retail Drinks Australia Awards.

Good Pair Days was founded in 2015 by world-renowned Sommelier Banjo Harris Plane and his friends Humberto Moreira and Tom Walenkamp, with the purpose of simplifying the way people shopped for wine.

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The process is that customers start by taking an online wine palate quiz that is then paired with expert curation to select the three different wines that will appear in their first monthly box. The wines are accompanied by tasting notes, maker stories, food pairings and matching recipes.

The purpose is to help members to learn more about wine and become more comfortable with the wine selection process.

Harris Plane told National Liquor News that although the Good Pair Days team has barely caught their breath from 2019, they have no plans of slowing down.

“We’ve got a lot planned,” he said. “We’re working directly with winemakers to pass our customer insights back to them to help produce wines our members will love.

“We’re building phase 2.0 of our app with even more user-focused features. We’re doubling down on our education to really help members learn more about wine as they go on their journey with us. We’re really hoping to try our take on what a re-imagined bottle shop, led by tech, could look and feel like.”

The guys have come a long way since launching in 2015, when they stocked fewer than 20 wines and were mostly selling to family and friends. They recently reached a new milestone with their membership base and are expecting that to continue to grow into 2020.

“We originally launched about four years ago on shoestring budget with a very simple site, but with the same grand ambition to open up the wonderful world of wine. To make the discovery of exceptional bottles of wines more fun, more accessible, more educational, and more joyously inclusive.

“Since those early days of packing wine in the corner of a co-working space we’ve come a long way. We’ve gone from hacked together spreadsheets with wine notes and customer ratings to what we think is one of the most advanced wine websites in the world,” says Harris Plane.

“We’ve gone from stocking fewer than 20 wines, all bought through distributors to having more than 200 bottles available at any one time, with the majority bought directly from the winemakers, passing the benefits back to them directly as much as possible.

“And in the early days we pretty much had friends, family, our mums and dads as our main customers, which must have been a good place to start to get the word out because we recently we passed the 15,000 unique customer mark.”

Thriving online

When we asked Harris Plane about what it takes to make a great online retailer, his answer was that you “need to have a mission”. And being named the 2019 Online Liquor Retailer of the Year by Retail Drinks Australia gave them the confidence to keep chasing their mission.

“It meant the world to us. After all the hard work we had been doing to bring our vision for the next generation of wine retail to life, and to have the liquor industry recognise and appreciate what we’ve built through this award meant a lot.

“It really gave us confidence that we are on the right track and to keep chasing after our mission.

“To get to square one today, you have to be laser focused on user experience and customer service. They are a must. But more than that you must have a mission, stand for something, a reason to justify why you exist. For us it’s making wine more accessible to everyone.

“A bit closer to home in industries that can overwhelm with the vast amounts of choice available at the click of a button, we really believe curation and personalisation are invaluable to our customers.”