The importers can get an ex-cellar price without the waiting period that comes with shipping. ‘This takes the pressure off on cash flow,’ adds Shen.
Orders as small as two to three pallets can be delivered immediately, which is an encouraging prospect for smaller importers.
As for producers, they will need to pay a fee for the ‘Wine to China’ service, but then it is up to them how much they want to charge importers for their wine.
‘Even if they only intend to sell 10,000 bottles of wine in China per year, they can always find one or two small importers to handle their business’, says Shen.
‘Wine to China’ doesn’t promise to sell, however they are happy to give producers a hand by organising tastings on the premises, sending out samples and attending trade fairs with non-Chinese-speaking producers.
Shen outlines, ‘we aim to take up to 50 producers by the end of this year’.
‘Not everybody wants to get their wines online’
Jack Ma’s Alibaba has made ‘e-commerce’ the key word for Vinexpo Hong Kong this year, as his company gears up towards its first online wine sales event, ‘Tmall Wine & Spirits Festival’ on 9th September 2016.
‘For producers who find it difficult to find representation in China, they may want to work directly with Alibaba’, suggested Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of the Alibaba Group.
According to the head of JD.com’s wine department, Zhao Dabin, JD.com is following the trend by actively developing its own direct import business. He explains that producers represented by JD.com need to ‘keep up the pace’ of the rapidly rising sales figures of online retailers.
But not everyone necessarily wants to get online. ‘The wine business is still very traditional,’ argues Shen, ‘not every chateau wants see people to buying their wines only to put them in a flash sale online. Some of them still think it’s damaging to their brands, which have been passed down for generations’.
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