Wineries, ecommerce and fintech: this Argentine company wants to reinvent the wine business in the region
Informality, little and no financing, minimal traceability, lack of stock information in real time. These are many of the problems that are observed in the commercial chain of any sector.
And the wine business does not escape these variables. Conversely. Just as the wineries in Argentina tend to be efficient and competitive, in the last link of the chain is where the greatest difficulties are to reach the consumer with a wine in a timely manner, either through a wine bar or a restaurant.
In this context, digitization is beginning to take hold in this sector. How? Through the first BtB platform in the region, which will allow connect to wineries and spirits brands with the trade.
The project is called BottleHub and has just been presented in Buenos Aires, as part of the latest edition of the Vinos & Negocios exhibition.
"Technically, we are the first B2B place of business in Latin America, and there is not a digital platform of this kind in the whole region that allows all the orders to be centralized in a single interface", says Javier Menajovsky. draft.
Under the claim "a window, all drinks", BottleHub intends to have the largest inventory of wines listed in Argentina, forming a virtual window through which restaurants, wine bars, hotels and catering companies can centralize all their orders .
"In practice, we are a marketplace that connects the parties: those that sell, which can be warehouses, distributors or importers, with the trade.We do not have stock, nor distribution agreements, because the logistics business is not part of our core business Our function will be to connect the parties ", says the entrepreneur.
This platform, which will be operational in 60 days, will start with about 150 wineries, which are part of the portfolio of some 20 distributors. As a counterpart, they aim to start with a base of 1,000 registered users (buyers).
As for the projections, the expectation is to have, for the next 12 months, at least some 5,000 users, more than 300 listed wineries and some 3,500 labels between wines and spirits available for sale.
Among the wineries that are already part of this initiative are names such as Luigi Bosca, Finca Flichman and Kaiken.
The idea, in the medium term will be to add other products, such as waters and beers.
However, the operation in Argentina will be one of several legs that this project will have, which aims to have a regional projection.
"In the month of October we will be presenting BottleHub in Sao Paulo, at the ProVino fair, and we believe that, definitively, Brazil will be the great locomotive of this project, until it represents 90% of total operations, although Argentina It is a more mature market and is where we started the launch, "Menajovsky says, who clarifies that in the neighboring country the platform will not be focused on offering only Argentine wines.
"The idea there is to cover as much spectrum as possible, including wines from Brazil and around the world, which is why it's going to be a very big operation," he says.
According to a report from the National Consulate in São Paulo, per capita consumption in this market is around 2 liters per capita, with a level close to the 173 million liters sold per year.
It is a figure that is well below the level of Argentina, where last year reached 840 million liters.
However, in Brazil this category is growing at an accelerated pace, while it is a very strong market for spirits and beers, other segments where BottleHub also ventures into.
In parallel, the company is also in talks with a local partner to disembark in Mexico, where they plan to launch officially in early 2020.
Then, the business plan contemplates disembarking in other countries of the region, such as Colombia and Peru.
The digitization of the business
According to Menajovsky, the biggest problem facing this business is that it is managed "with practices that are sometimes old and not very efficient".
"Today you have a restaurant or a wine bar that interacts with about 30 suppliers on a daily basis, and many times that communication they establish can be chaotic and informal, and they ask for wines by WhatsApp, by mail and by phone. In addition, they are in different formats and are not always updated, today it is almost impossible to compare an order with the previous one or repeat it, to which it is added that there is almost no traceability, "he says.
According to the entrepreneur, BottleHub comes to solve that, because buyers will be able to close all operations in one place. This is not a minor issue in a market where there are more than 3,500 labels available.
"Therefore, with this tool, each company can manage its beverage program in an orderly and automatic way, which is important because the whole process of managing purchase and sale operations is something that does not add value, which becomes a load, so that with the digitalization it will be possible to improve the efficiency of the whole chain, "he adds.
Menajovsky delves into this and points out that "this platform will be key for distributors, since there are thousands of customers who are not on their radar today, because they already have 20 or 30 suppliers and they are saturated. diversify their offer because they operatively want to reduce their administrative processes ".
"Now, to a restaurant, a hotel or a wine bar, to be able to make the purchase of wines and spirits through a single interface and as if making a single order, it will simplify the whole operation and this is what, In short, it will help to make more business, "he says.
Financing via fintechs
One of the keys of this development will be the possibility of offering a digital solution that adapts to the practices of the sector, which usually cancels the payment in a period that goes from 60 to 90 days.
"Today there is a lot of informality, sometimes the checks bounce, there have also been scams in this market, which is why BottleHub comes up with a credibility solution, making the fintech intervene, which today allows us to incorporate clients with good payment history but So far they are outside the financial market, "says Menajovsky.
As an example, the entrepreneur mentions the case of restaurants, which operate with credit cards and, logically, have a bank account.
"How is the box today?" The only ones that give qualification to this type of business are the traditional banks, but now there are fintech that, for example, allow to process all the coupons of cards, and the derivative of that is what already allows generate a score and, from it, a financial intermediary will be able to provide financing for 60 or 90 days, through the platform, and through a digital check, "he explains.
This will allow, anticipate from the company, wineries and distributors make sales almost automatically, since they will not have to pass to potential buyers through a process of checking their credit history.
"The wineries are not financial entities, they do not have to carry out this type of analysis, which must be carried out by specialists, such as a fintech, which is why we believe that this will be a way to overcome the current credit barrier once we implement this mechanism. in a second stage, "he says, and then add that another of the innovations that will incorporate in the medium term will be the possibility of having a management of the stock completely online and in real time.