Winegrower on Libre.vin – How it works
Libre.vin is a hybrid between a traditional wine importer and an open marketplace. We extract the best from both models to create a frictionless line between winegrowers and their fans. Formally we are your customer, but in reality our relationship can be characterized as a collaboration with the common goal of delivering a remarkable customer experience to your present and future fans.
We offer a commission based business relationship where you get paid as your wines get sold. This creates a steady flow of wine and allows us to focus on three tasks:
- Serve as matchmakers between you and future fans
- Selling wine at very attractive prices
- Doing excellent customer service
Below we’ll explain each of our offerings and answer a list of the questions that may arise when you consider joining our collaboration.
What we offer
Our model is tailor-made for the true, independent winegrower. We help you build and serve your own audience of many small customers instead of relying on a few big ones. We believe that your fans belong to you. By connecting you to your fans we empower you to serve them better, while reducing your long term risk.
We know Denmark and especially Copenhagen. We have a loyal audience of private customers who’s trust we have gained during the last seven years, and we have connections to part of the restaurant scene in Copenhagen. We actively sell wine to our audience, but in fact we consider it less like selling and more like matchmaking.
The commission-based model frees up a lot of capital for us. This not only allows us to spend our energy doing excellent customer service. It also allows us to work with lower margins and offer very attractive prices for our customers. Significantly lower prices usually means more sales. The increased steady sales should make up for “cost” of delayed payment. That’s the idea.
Regarding logistics we act completely as a traditional wine importer. This includes arranging shipping, handling, storing and delivering. We pay excise duties, order handling and process payments. In addition, you get your own web page and shop on our platform.
Awareness and community
We are actively building a community around you, your fellow winegrowers and your wines. Online this happens primarily through our email list and Instagram. Offline our work include activities at our Copenhagen based warehouse “Collective NG23“, public and private tastings, wine travels and the annual Vild Vin Festival.
Independence (both ways)
Libre.vin offer independence. Although we are technically your Danish importer, we are not married to each other. If working with other Danish distributors can help you we will support you 100%. But the independence also works the other way, and we are not obligated to buy your wines if our collaborative efforts do not work as effectively as expected. You get paid when your wines are sold.
The commission based business model means that you don’t have to wait for us to place the next order. When we run out of wine you simply send us more. Provided you have wine in stock, this allows us to distribute your wines to customers all year round without interruptions.
Questions & answers
Below you’ll find a list of questions that we have been asked from winegrowers. Click each question to see our answer. And don’t hesitate to ask your own question.
WHAT IS LIBRE.VIN?
My name is Joachim Niclasen. I have worked with wine since 2007 when I got a job in a local wine bar. I was soon managing the place and stayed there while I finished my studies at the IT University in Copenhagen.
In 2011 I handed in my thesis about future web-based business models in the wine industry. I immediately began putting the theory into action and created what I called Vinkollektivet (The Wine Collective), an online platform and offline community among small Danish wine importers. That was fun!
In 2014 I started to import wine myself. I called my company Vinhacker (Wine Hacker) and tried to live up to the cheeky name by turning things (price structures, communication strategies and preferred segments) upside-down. This was also the time I really fell in love with natural wine. Though I don’t consider myself a ‘hacker’ anymore I can still appreciate the mindset that made me enter the Danish wine industry.
In 2018 I launched a natural wine subscription called Kaoskassen. 2018 was also the year that I hooked up with my business partner, Troels.
In 2019 I took the first baby steps towards learning to grow and make wine myself, when I co-created and joined a 18-month course in collaboration with Danish natural wine producer, Garbolund.
2019 was also the year I started experimenting with the idea that had lived inside my head for year: Creating a place for winegrowers to connect directly with their fans, making a better life for themselves and their fans along the way.
2020 was (despite the pandemic) a very positive year. I took Libre.vin from a crazy idea to something that was actually functioning – and seemed to make people happy.
So here we are – 2021 – Libre.vin is still a baby. But it’s growing and learning fast!
- The joy of buying sustainable products (more) directly from the producer.
- New inspiring connections (or even friendships) and a great story to tell their friends.
- More interesting wines at much better prices.
Start by applying for Libre.vin. After (hopefully) having your application accepted you finish the registration process. We are glad to help you decide which wines and how many bottles you should send. Once you’ve packed the wines, we take over. When your wines have arrived we add them to our online marketplace, announce their arrival and start working with them towards Danish consumers and professionals. Once you make a sale, your share is automatically added to your Stripe Connect balance, which is transferred to your bank account in the frequency of your choice (monthly per default).
We are looking for small scale winegrowers who work organically in the vineyard and naturally in the winery. We are not fanatics, but we demand full disclosure on your winemaking practices. You are not the type who hide behind exclusivity deals and other small monopolies. You appreciate the value of connecting directly with your fans. You believe in independence as the best investment for the future.
We connect small scale natural winegrowers with Danish consumers and professionals. Our Copenhagen based warehouse acts as your remote Danish storage. The online platform gathers all the wines on a shared marketplace which also contains wines from Danish wine importers. As a winegrower you get your own web page and shop. We handle all the administrative tasks just like a traditional importer. We spend our energy on matchmaking, customers service & developing the platform (and it’s community).
Not necessarily… but it will certainly help to get us on off to a good start!
This is the best answer we can provide to this question. We simply need to decide whether to taste samples on a case-to-case basis.
Please see our step-by-step guide to registration.
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
A realistic estimate is 1-2 hours registering your business and 10-20 minutes for each wine.
We recommend starting with somewhere between 300 and 600 bottles for your first shipment. The best starting quantity for you depends on many factors, and since this is a collaboration we will guide you the best we can. One thing is for sure: We don’t want you to send more wine than we realistically believe you can sell.
RISKS & BENEFITS
You shall not.
For every shipment of 600 bottles we spend roughly €1,000 on excise duties and shipping, money that we will not get back if the wines don’t sell. In many cases – especially when you’ve gained a good reputation – we will be able to sell 100-300 bottles immediately after arrival (sometimes even before the pallet has been picked-up from you).
If you are used to having a distributor taking all the short-term risk, then this is definitely a different situation. What we are trying to create is a relationship where both sides have a significant amount of “skin in the game”. We believe that we’ve found the right balance and a payment model that will help us move you forward.
Yes. You will issue an invoice just like you normally do. That is our legal agreement. The only difference between your usual invoices and this one is that there is no due date on the one you issue to Libre.vin.
If you want to sign a mutual agreement between us describing the possible outcomes if things don’t go as planned, that is also possible. Just ask for it.
We are taking full responsibility of your wines while they are in our possession. Actually, since we are formally buying your wines (though under special terms) it makes perfect sense that you don’t have to worry about the safety of the bottles.
There will always be a risk that your wines are not selling. Especially if your wines are completely unknown to the Danish market. This is as much a concern for us as it is to you. So we take it very seriously. That is why we suggest being cautious with the quantities of your first shipments and why we prefer tasting your wines before we start our collaboration.
But in case the situation does arise we will consider the following prioritized solutions:
- Does it make sense for us to simply buy the remaining stock?
- Could we make an attractive clearance sale?
(Perhaps in combination with pt. 1)
- Should we arrange that the wines be sent back to you?
(In which case we will ask you to pay for the return shipping, because we paid for the initial shipping. Shipping a pallet can usually be done for around €200-€250)
Again, the best way to avoid this unhappy situation is to increase the quantities slowly from shipment to shipment in order to test the demand.
We know this may sound counter-intuitive. After all, you send your wines all the way to Denmark without knowing when you will receive your payment. So yes, there is a short-term risk.
But think about the long term. Which situation is the riskiest:
– Relying on one big customer?
– Or having many smaller customers?
It’s a matter of how many eggs you want to put in one basket. And the fact that the longer you work independently, the more robust you get. Long-term thinking.
Please have a look at the “What we offer” section above.
SALES & MARKETING
There are three ways for potential customers to sample your wines.
- During our warehouse’ opening hours we offer consumers and professionals to drop by to taste almost any wine they want (we use a Coravin).
- Professionals (with a PRO account) can buy samples cheaply and get them delivered for free inside Copenhagen.
- If you insist on giving away free samples (e.g., for reviewers) we will figure that out too.
Here is how we will actively help selling your wines.
We are constantly building our email list. Here we present new winegrowers and arrivals, and we update our audience on events. Subscribers are able to select the winegrowers they want to hear from, and we encourage all winegrowers to send a message to their followers every time new wines arrive in Copenhagen.
Vinhacker is our traditional wine import. Besides our connections to restaurants and wine bars across Copenhagen we are followed by a loyal group of email subscribers who receive the advise given by Joachim. If Joachim likes a wine of yours, you can be sure his followers will know about it. If a restaurant does not want to pay up-front in the webshop, they can instead buy the wines from Vinhacker with a 15 days credit and a 10 % addition to the price (which is still a very good price).
We share our 150 m2 warehouse in central Copenhagen with a couple of like-minded wine importers. We have named the place Collective NG23. Together we maintain weekly opening hours and host private tastings, pro-tastings and public events.
We are happy to bring samples to restaurants and wine bars, and we don’t mind spending time with good people who want to spend time with us.
Here is how we will actively help creating awareness of your wines.
Libre.vin is our official account. We are definitely not religious about social media, and we only use the platform when we can make intentional, valuable contributions to the society. We believe that the true value of Instagram is its ability to let people share stories, not for narcissistic companies to talk about themselves. Our job is to make our customers happy. If we succeed and people wish to share their happiness with their friends we will gladly participate in the conversation.
Vild Vin Festival
Once a year we are co-hosting the Vild Vin Festival, an annual celebration of clean, handmade wines in Copenhagen. And a growing success. We have a lot of event experience in our team, and we are eager to put it to work. As a part of Libre.vin you are invited to attend free of charge.
A couple of notes…
Network effects and growth
As the platform grows bigger it’s value for everyone involved will increase. When consumers and restaurants buy more wine, more winegrowers will want to join. Making more wine available. And so on, and so on. Easier said than done, but it’s important to know that philosophy: We want to be more useful as we grow, not the other way around. Our goal is to be useful and solve problems, and we see no point in growing for the sake of growth alone.
Imagine an online forum where people could learn about wine (regions, growing techniques, production methods, grape varieties) by engaging directly with growers. Or what about a Wiki on (real) wine? We would definitely like to organize wine trips across Europe. Also, creating an ambassador program for your biggest fans in different locations has been an idea for a long time. Got an idea? Let us know!
MARKETPLACE PRICE STRUCTURE
The prices on Libre.vin reflect our lightweight approach, and we have purposely created a structure that benefits curiosity more than anything.
- Base price
Each wine has a ‘base price’. This is the price of one single bottle sold to a private customer. This price is in line with typical Danish wine shops. But even the base price can be considered low because the retailer’s (including us) price is probably 10-20% lower than what a traditional importer would be able to offer.
- Quantity discount
We reward our customers for buying larger quantities by offering discounts of 15% and 20% for orders of 6 and 12 bottles respectively.
- Rewards for curiosity
We reward curiosity by applying the quantity discounts across all wines on the marketplace. Put differently, customers can choose 12 different wines from 12 different winegrowers and still obtain a discount of 20%.
- Cheap shipping for private customers
We use part of the profit to offer cheap shipping in Denmark and Europe.
Restaurants, wine bars and wine shops get a separate type of account (PRO account) with extremely attractive terms and prices. In effect, wine shops are in principle able to offer deals as good as those available on Libre.vin, while bars and restaurants are able to sell wines by the glass that would otherwise be too expensive for that.
PAYMENTS & INVOICES
The only invoice you need to issue is an invoice for each shipment. Just like you usually do.
Each month you will receive a bank transfer from Stripe. Consider that transfer an installment on the invoice.
We advise you to set up a simple spreadsheet to keep track of invoices, payments and balances. No matter what, you can be sure that we will also keep track of everything!
We ask you to charge no more than your normal export prices.
(And likely no less)
You are a vendor on our marketplace so you have access to each individual order. This allows you to see the names and order details of your fans. But you don’t have to handle anything. The only invoice for you to focus on is the invoice you send with each shipment.
You get paid when an order containing your wine is placed in the webshop.
The money received from each order is automatically split between you and us. Your share in transferred directly to your Stripe balance, which is paid out to your bank account in your desired frequency, typically monthly. You are always welcome to request a manual payout, which is just a click away. Your share of the web orders will never be in our hands.
When we (Libre.vin) are using your wines we transfer the money manually from our Stripe account to your Stripe account. We usually take care of the previous week’s transfers on Mondays. Again, if you are in a hurry to get your money just write or call us, and we will transfer them immediately.
If you need a fixed payment date on your invoice to us we will not be able to guarantee a place on Libre.vin. We may, however, decide to put the fixed payment date in the legal document between us if we are convinced about the popularity of your wines.
Here is every step of your money’s journey from the customer to your bank account.
- The full amount is deducted from the customer’s credit/debit card.
- Your share of the order enters your Stripe account immediately (in rare cases it may takes 2-3 days).
- Every month (around the 1st) your Stripe balance is paid out to your bank account. If you prefer daily or weekly payouts that is also possible. Or you can request a manual payout any time (it takes 3 days for the money to arrive in your bank account)
We pay for shipping. And we arrange everything related to shipping just like at traditional wine import.
Quite a lot actually. All wine info is supplied through a Google Form. You are welcome to register a test wine in order to see the extent of the info we ask for.
Different people consume information in different ways. The level of details may be more than enough for the novice consumer, but for the professional who aims to communicate the qualities of the wine precisely every information counts. In addition, it’s a strong signal to send that you are not afraid to show complete transparency.
OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS
No you don’t need to.
Basic customer service is definitely our job. But we put a lot of effort into delivering more than just what’s expected of any business. Customer service to us is something we do pro-actively. It’s without a doubt our most important task.
We strongly encourage both our customers and winegrowers to interact, and when it comes to questions about your wines no one can answer them better than you. We hope you agree.
Yes and no.
Formally we act as your importer. We make sure the excise duties are paid, and we handle the shipping, handling, storing and physical distribution of the wines. This is part of our service.
But rather than a traditional wine importer, you should consider us your collaborator. A partner with all the tools you need to connect with your Danish audience.