Cellar Door Society
Name: Sophie McNamara
Location: Melbourne, Victoria Australia
We have two clients. Our wine partners, and our customers.
We help our wine partners by setting them up with a storefront on our platform, so they can reach a larger audience to sell their wine. We use a direct to consumer model which means the winery ships the wine from their cellar door to the customer and the customer pays them directly. This helps their cashflow as they get paid as soon as the sale is made. Additionally, they can sell at their full retail price, which means they receive a greater return on their product than other retail models. There are no costs involved in listing their products on our website so no risk, and we advertise for our wineries as well at no extra cost. We also promote their cellar doors to get people out to visit. Ultimately, we help provide greater exposure and brand awareness.
We help our customers by providing access to independent winemakers and family owned wineries that they may not have found otherwise. A lot of our wine partners are small businesses who don’t have the time or knowledge to market themselves, so customers may not know about their wine, or their cellar door. We also educate our customers about all things wine, as well as different wineries throughout Australia to visit.
What products/services do you offer?
CELLAR DOOR EXPERIENCE ONLINE – It’s our belief that visiting cellar doors and tasting incredible wine is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Learning about the characteristics of the wine, how it was made and by who, is such a wonderful experience. Especially if your tasting is conducted by the winemaker/family behind the wine which is commonly the case at smaller wineries. Buying wine at cellar doors is also a rewarding experience because you know you are directly supporting small, family owned businesses who put their heart and soul into what they do. This experience is a difficult one to replicate but since we can’t always get to cellar doors in person, Cellar Door Society aims to bring this experience to you online.
You can shop our virtual cellar doors anywhere and anytime. You can find your perfect wine by searching a number of different ways, including but not limited to your favourite variety, region, whether a wine is vegan or organic, wines on sale or in the price range you want to spend. Learn everything about the wine before you purchase, directly from the winemaker’s mouth. You can learn the story behind the winery, their winemaking philosophy, and be guaranteed that you are buying excellent quality wine, handcrafted with love, from small family owned wineries.
WINE DELIVERY FROM CELLAR DOORS AROUND AUSTRALIA – Once you find your perfect wine, follow our simple checkout process to purchase directly from the winery. By direct we mean, the wine gets shipped from the winery to you, and you pay the winery directly. The closest alternative to buying through their cellar door.
Why did you start your business and how long have you been running it?
We started the business because every time we would visit small wineries and have such wonderful experiences, and find excellent wine at great prices, we would say how we wish more people knew about them. We knew a lot of these smaller wineries faced challenges with selling their wine, due to the competitive nature of the industry and their limited capacity to market themselves. We wanted to help them overcome these challenges, as well as provide wine lovers with access to wineries they may never have found otherwise.
We created the business after quitting our jobs and moving to Bali in July 2018. We wanted to work on a business together that we were passionate about. We returned to Australia 4 months later, and Cellar Door Society went live just before Christmas 2018.
What struggles do you think most businesses face in your industry and what would you say they need to do to overcome them?
There is a lot of competition in the online wine space, both for retailers, and for wineries. To be successful it is important to differentiate yourself from the competition and offer something to your customers that they are not receiving elsewhere. Marketing is obviously an important aspect to getting your brand out there; it’s critical for consumers to know, like and trust you. This can be hard when there are so many businesses like yours, and sometimes consumers don’t want to be sold to. To overcome this, it is important to be authentic and know what makes you different and be able to offer that to your target market.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My partner and I don’t have a background in technology, yet we have developed a website that is highly technical and that offers a payment gateway that we have not seen anywhere else in our industry. That is Stripe Connect which splits payment at checkout, so our wineries receive their money from the customer straight away and we also get paid directly. This has been a huge challenge but one we have been proud to overcome.
What has been your biggest ‘fail’ so far?
We had many fails in the first year with this payment gateway. Money wasn’t going to the correct person, the amount kept being incorrect and sales kept not going through. This lost us a lot of customers who probably decided not to try again because it was too hard.
What do you love most about your business?
We love helping small businesses. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a sale come through and knowing that you are putting money directly into the hands of a family owned business. Same goes with doing a post on social media that results in visitors to our wine partners’ cellar doors. This doesn’t result in sales for us, but it does make us feel genuinely happy that we are helping our wineries receive direct payments, as well as helping wine lovers find amazing wine and enjoy wonderful experiences.
What do you find most challenging?
Being a small business, finding time to do everything I need to do in a day is always a challenge. Time constraints means I don’t always have the time I would like to advertise on behalf of each of our wineries and get them the sales we could if we had a bigger team.
How do you promote your business (please include as many details as you can)?
- Social media posts
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing
- Word of mouth
What business skills do you have (eg. graphic design, customer service)?
- Social media marketing
- Content creation
- Copy writing
- Project management
- Customer service
- Willingness to learn and try new things
- Organisational skills
- Data management
What software did you/your designer use to create your website (eg. WordPress, Wix)?
We used Magento
What are some of your favourite business tools and apps?
Luna Pic – editing images
Canva – graphic design
Plann – reposting Instagram pictures
Repost – reposting Instagram pictures
Adobe Stock Images – images for blogs
Gimp – editing images
Dropbox – storing all company information
Google Drive – storing company information and images
Comment Picker – Instagram random comment picker – for picking winners of competitions
What do you like about your website and what’s not working for you?
I like the content and design of our platform. It’s easy to use and simple to find what you’re looking for. I would love to re-design some pages, to include more copy and images.
What lessons have you learnt during your time as an entrepreneur?
Not to be a perfectionist all the time. No one looks at everything as closely as you do and sometimes it is better to just accept something as it is and keep going rather than spend hours perfecting it.
What key tips for success in business would you like to share with others?
- I believe that you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and face your fears to be successful. Trust yourself and don’t worry too much about what other people think
- Hire people you trust and who share the same work ethic as you
- Develop strong and authentic relationships with people in your industry and support them as much as you can
- Learn as much as you can and don’t be scared to give things a go
What is the one thing that you want everyone to take away from this post?
You are capable of more than you think. Don’t settle doing something you don’t enjoy because it’s easy. Because doing something you love, even if it’s hard, will bring so much more fulfilment and happiness in the long run.