The price you pay

It’s something we hear every now and then – particularly when somebody comes into the shop scanning labels to check the price on one of those price check apps. “I can get this cheaper on the Internet”. I thought I’d share with you one of those conversations that I recently had with a customer, to demonstrate that on the Internet, what you see is not always what you get:

But first a little clarification: We’re an independent wine shop trying to the best for ourselves and our delightful community of enthusiastic customers.  We procure wines that we like and that we are sure our customers will enjoy.  We try and get them at prices where we can offer them at a margin that pays our rent, pays our staff, pays our suppliers and pays our overheads including free local delivery on the day that the order is placed.

We can’t compete in terms of overhead with either supermarkets, national high street retailers. The big boys buy their wines by the pallet, not the case. They negotiate rent and wholesale price deals distinctly keener than we could even dream of. In many cases they are importing their wines directly, without the additional cost of a middleman wholesaler.

And online retail businesses run out of industrial sheds on the edges of provincial towns? Our overheads are a lot (I mean a lot) higher than theirs: We’re paying London retail rent levels, we’re gradually developing the shop’s physical environment having added new signage, heating and air-conditioning and cellar climate control (more for the wine, than us, it must be said, too). We employ a small team of 6 people and pay all of them the London living wage (almost 25% more than the UK minimum wage).

So the particular conversation I want to share with you went along these lines: “I just bought a bottle of Orballo Albariño. It was lovely. But when I looked on the Internet it was available at a lot of other indies a lot cheaper.”

So I took a look. Indeed, it did seem that this was the case.  Of the options initially presented on a Google search, Orballo Abarino was being offered from £10.95 to £12.95.  But then I dug a little deeper…

The first I looked at was an online only business based in Bury advertising it at £11.49 for a bottle. However delivery was another £4.99.

Next was a ‘big brand’ online supplier asking £11.45. But you would need to buy a case of 6, minimum. (Our case price for the same bottle is £12.60, although our minimum order for a case discount is 12 bottles. We can deliver same day too, if you’re local.)

An online only business based in Northern Ireland were asking £12.95 PLUS £4.95 delivery.  (Although they did also state on their checkout “Just spend £137.05 more and get free shipping”.) Another online only business (based in Swansea this time) were listing it at £10.95, but in fact that was a flash sale price. Normally it’s £12.95.  Their shipping is £6.95.

I also found it advertised with a couple of independent shops with online options. One on the outskirts of London seem closer in their business model to us in that they are not purely an online business, but also a local wine shop are offering the Orballo at £12 a bottle on the Internet, but it turns out that that is the case price and a single bottle on the shelf is £13.  (And as they are outside the North/South Circular, I predict their rent will be a sight less than ours.)

And finally, I found it available a little cheaper from an outfit with a shop on the outskirts of York, but their delivery price is a minimum £12.50.

Of course, none of these places could you have walked into that day (at least without making a considerable journey) and asked the informed opinion of an engaging and knowledgeable sales person, such as Lara, Luca and Jakub. (Shaun and I have our moments too.) We’re near and we’re here when you need us.

So as you see, it’s not as simple as it looks? We believe that we are offering good value for money. I hope, considering the above, that we might have persuaded you likewise?

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November 12, 2020
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