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Industry News - September 13, 2022

Time for an Alternative to SevenFifty?

As its becoming Provi, the marketplace is evolving towards an advertising model - what does it mean for wine importers and distributors?

Written by

Roland Benedetti

SevenFifty was a pioneer of b2b digital business in the world of wine. Launching in the 2010's, it soon became essential for importers and distributors in certain states (like New York) to conduct business. Ultimately, only a few decided not to use their services.

The digital platform was appropriately embracing the marketplace approach, but never really became a true b2b e-Commerce service (the platform allowed buyers to send purchase orders to vendors, but without following up on the order processing in later stages).

I have been using the service as a seller, myself, for several years now as a small craft wine importer.

I’m a strong believer that digital technology can be a useful instrument that can help streamline the operations of a wine import company. It could improve the quality of information and communication, facilitate and streamline the painful part of the buying and selling processes, empower the sales team with better tools, so they can focus on sales and not admin work. So many things today are made easier and more convenient thanks to the digital evolution! I truly respect SevenFifty for having moved the needle a bit in the wine world, an industry that is so resistant to change.

Now, with the evolution of SevenFifty, I think there are multiple reasons to offer an alternative to professional buyers in the US, who are looking for a digital marketplace to purchase craft wine for their stores and restaurants.I think the most obvious reason for that is the recent move from SevenFifty to Provi, due to the merge of two companies.

SevenFifty marketplace is now based on an advertising-based model - not good for independent mid-size companies

SevenFifty’s original model was based on subscription. Like many b2b platforms, buyers would get free access to the marketplace; vendors would pay a subscription to be able to sell on there, like they would for rent if they had a storefront, just much less expensive. It was a win-win situation.

The new model is clearly different, and purely based on advertising.

This means that, whether you pay or list your product for free, your very own product data and your audience will be used by SevenFifty/Provi to sell ads to some of your competitors. Basically, the information that someone looks for in one of your specific wines is used by Provi to sell advertising placement around your product.

Let us say you are a mid-size wine distributor focusing on authentic craft wine. This will unquestionably generate situations such as having your real wines surrounded by bogus industrial alternatives advertised as craft products, most likely at lower prices. Knowing that craft wine is only a tiny share of the whole wine market (less than 5%) and that it really is what buyers are looking for, there will be a lot of bidders trying to sell their crap on your proper wine page.

Secondly, it also means that SevenFifty’s only goal will be to sell you advertising space. If you want to hope for significant business coming from SevenFifty/Provi, you’ll have to pay for ads, and you’ll have to hope the cost per click and further conversions are good. 

I really doubt that this is the best marketing strategy for importers, producers and distributors in the craft wine ecosystem! And I’m sure professional wine buyers sourcing products are highly discerning and indeed not interested in seeing these sponsored options. Will they like the experience of the new face of SevenFifty? I very much doubt it.

Other reasons

In addition to the aforementioned reason, which would be sufficient for craft wine importers to start looking for an alternative, there are a few others:

  • The quality of the information about the wines has always been problematic in SevenFifty, it has never improved (more the opposite, some says...) and it will certainly not now with the old SevenFifty software transition to the Provi platform, where product info is basically designed to sell thousands of Heineken cases

  • Information about availability, stock, inventory and allocations is missing or incorrect

  • User experience on mobile phones in particular, but also in general, is out of date. It is not a great experience for buyers, and even less for sellers

  • The service is only scratching the surface of digitizing the “buying experience” - for most, it’s just generating an intent of order and then the ordering must be managed offline, with numerous issues along the way

And many other minor reasons that I won’t list here.

Vintners.co: an alternative for craft wine buyers and sellers?

At Vintners.co, we are just getting started. We are laser focused on building a b2b platform for craft wine sellers (producers, importers or distributors). We aim to create the best experience possible for craft wine buyers.

In many ways, we believe that we have the ability to provide that alternative to SevenFifty. We also have much more to offer, as we are not only a marketplace, but rather a platform with digital tools that help sales teams, regardless if their buyers are digital or not. Possibilities include:

  • Online collaboration all along the lifecycle of the ordering process (no more need to dig in your mailbox or text messages for a question on an order)

  • Collaboration on the management of the wine information, across producers and sellers

  • Real-time inventory management for the sales team, and optionally for the buyer (if desired), integrating with your back-office systems

  • Management of complex pricing schemes (covering different areas and audiences)

  • Integration with payment services

Additionally, our technology also offers a turnkey solution to deploy your own b2b digital commerce portal or integrate it in your existing site if you’d rather send your customers to your own digital property rather than a marketplace..

If interested please reach out.

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