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Oct. 26, 2022

Library Release - Putting Trust in Data w/ Russ Mann, WineBid

Library Release - Putting Trust in Data w/ Russ Mann, WineBid

Library Release - Originally released as episode 26 on Nov 11th, 2020

With a 25-year history, WineBid is the oldest and largest online wine auction site. The original re-commerce platform, Russ tells us about the auction process from the buyer and seller perspective and all the data they collect and display for the wines. This includes innovations such as a 360-degree bottle shot, price history charts, and new functionality like their customized shipping feature. He spills the beans on a few tips and tricks to get the best deals on WineBid!


Detailed Show Notes: 

WineBid - 25 years old, based in Seattle with operations in Napa, the oldest and largest wine auction site

Weekly auctions - open at 7:15 pm PST on Sundays, close at 7 pm PST the next Sunday

  • All items open at the same time
  • Pro’s get 1st 5-10 minutes to view and place bids
  • What doesn’t sell rolls into the following week
  • Now introducing some wines mid-week, with most wines going in one week
  • Set good reserves upfront

For Sellers of wine

  • Consignors are mostly private individuals
  • Most sales are for $10,000-$1M+, ideally $100+ average bottle value
  • Sellers send their list and get an estimate
  • WineBid does the appraisal and after agreeing with the consignor, ships wine to the Napa warehouse
  • Wines are inspected, authenticated, and photographed
  • Once sold, sellers get a check or electronic wire transfer
  • As part of an estimate, for larger cellars, WineBid will help catalog and pre-inspect on-site

Reasons people sell wines

  • As in many businesses, the 3 D’s - divorce, debt, and death
  • People also have their tastes change and swap out what’s in their cellars
  • They move and want to downsize their cellar
  • Spouse/partners - may force sales before they can buy more

Consignment vs. cash buyout for wine sellers - generally make more money consigning and capture more upside, but takes more time and can get paid sooner, at a discount, with immediate cash buyout

Business model

  • Seller commissions - at most auction houses, 5-25%, the larger the consignment, the lower the premium
  • Buyer’s premiums - generally 15-25%, 17% at WineBid vs ~20-25% for live auctions

Buyer demographics - ~135-150,000 registered bidders

  • 70% US, 20% Asia, 10% Europe
  • ⅔ Male, ⅓ Female
  • Upper middle-income with professionals in high-tech, finance, lawyers, doctors, etc.
  • Demographics are getting younger, particularly in 2020 -> interested in a broader selection of wines with higher mobile usage
  • Most learn about WineBid via word of mouth, recently doing more social and digital advertising and trying to make the experience more personal

WineBid Innovations

  • 360-degree hi-res bottle shots
  • One of the best for still photography in wine auctions
  • Shipping functionality - can see everything you have and pick and choose what and when to ship
  • Some of the most detailed condition notes on bottles
  • Wine price chart for the history of the bottle

Provenance premiums

  • Don’t see significant premiums on provenance
  • No significant premiums for original wood cases (“OWC”) - buyers often don’t want to pay extra to ship the wood case
  • Certificates of authenticity not seeing significant premiums
  • Label appearance is important to many buyers

The proliferation of wine critics and influencers has led to some influencers rivaling and outpacing traditional media


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