June 09: Keeping in view the immediacy of the problem of sales during the Covid-19 times, retailers in Mumbai are honing the art of home delivery with organised Retail like Nature’s Basket including them in their mobile Apps and importers like the Wine Park and Gusto, focusing on easing the ordering and delivery procedure, even as stand-alone retailers like Juben Wines, reinforce their delivery service as USP for improving sales, writes Subhash Arora who opines that this would be a fit case of making it a permanent feature, even at nominal additional cost
Late last week Nature’s Basket informed its customers that they could now order wine and food through the Nature Basket Mobile App which includes the complete list of wines and beer available for home delivery. This gives the consumer a wider choice to select as the prices help decide what and how much to buy.
An interesting feature is also ‘You May also like’ section that suggests wines in a similar category. In this edition there are a few minor aberrations-like why a customer who is interested in Frescobaldi Lucente Toscana IGT for Rs. 5225, be interested in Torres San Medin for Rs. 1550. This is a sub-entry level wine from Chile introduced by Torres specifically for high-tax markets like India, China and Thailand and was introduced in Delhi for Rs. 550 several years ago (when delWine had recommended it for its low price). Similar is the case for Norton L Inst Cabernet Sauvignon for Rs, 1575. One could justify the suggestion for Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz at Rs. 4145- only because the price is comparable in the mid-high range for retail; Lucente is a Merlot Sangiovese blend and could better be positioned with a Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or possibly even a low-end Super Tuscan with Sangiovese blend.
The point is either the price or similarity in flavours is what a customer expects, especially if he or she is not very knowledgeable about wine and is looking for viable alternatives and valuable and unbiased suggestions.
There is a decent selection of Indian wines available; Sula Tropicale at Rs.1250 is an excellent Brut made till recently, with Traditional Method (second fermentation in the bottle like champagne) that could also be served in lieu of a pink bubbly; but the new bottlings are with Charmat Method like a Prosecco is made with second fermentation in the tank, so expect it to be lighter and more frothy- like Prosecco. However, the packaging is zesty, unique and attractive-you won’t want to throw away the bottle after emptying. If you are a single person who loves wine or a duo like to share a red wine, Sula Reserve Dindori at Rs. 685 is a good bet.
As the App specifies, Wine and Beer is being supplied only in Mumbai at select stores, Orders may not be clubbed with grocery and deliveries are between 10-6 subject to verification of permit and age by delivery person; legal age for mild beer is 21 and for wine and strong beer you must be over 25 to order.
The Wine Park is a household name and quite popular for better quality wines for which you pay the requisite premium. They do not have such an App but work through Google Documents and delivering to your home in Mumbai. The owner, Vishal Kadakia says he has introduced an exciting range of new wines from Australia, Spain and Italy. You can also order from their Premium selection and get them delivered the next day. Order at https://thewinepark.com/mumbai or call at 9820859548.
Not selling to under-age has been the major factor the excise has not authorised only/home delivery. While it is for them to check and monitor any violations, the vendors claim they are very rigid about following the system. ‘We get age verification IDs before supply, or if they have liquor permit, then we take the permit number beforehand,’ says Vishal.
Gusto Importers is another importer with a curated selection of wines from family owned historic producers across the world. They have a complete list of Club Gusto on the Google Documents at mumbai.gustoimports. They prefer clearing orders for more than 6 bottle assortments faster so if your order is less, you might have to wait a while. There is a complete range from Rs. 1470 to a Jaboulet Châteauneuf-du-Pape at Rs. 8500. Plenty of half-bottles are listed too. For more info, please visit their website www.gustoimports.com or click mumbai.gustoimports.com on your mobile..
Juben Wines at Juhu is more suitable for suburbanites. Satyam Savla, Director personally knows most of his clients and is geared with home deliveries. In fact, he says that thanks to home deliveries he has managed to reach the normal level of sales; he makes about 80 deliveries a day, but at other venues his business still suffers a 50% loss in volume.
Not everyone is geared for home delivery, though. Sonal Holland MW who handles distribution of wines and beer at Food Hall, says they have the permission but there are no promotions. Arun Kumar, Director of Aspri Spirits and Wines, a leading importer, says ‘we are not doing anything right now. It is early days and we are trying to get a grip on the current situation’. Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of VBev imports says they have a different strategy. They are working with a few retailers to promote their brands.
COVID-19 is undoubtedly providing challenges and opportunities. Home Delivery of wines and beer is proving quite successful. One only hopes, it will be regularised in the excise policy of every state. With Swiggy and Zomato jumping in, there is no doubt it will prove a boon as service to the industry; especially women and senior citizens will benefit immensely and if the excise departments are half as vigilant as they are required to be, we would soon get a step closer to online sales, which is already an international practice.
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