The business was born focused on tourists and foreign executives, but it took a leap in quarantine and with a local public
Although the mandatory quarantine put thousands of industries and businesses in the country on the ropes, which were even forced to close their doors or downsize their structure, for some others the crisis was a springboard to grow their business. This is the case of Viners, a digital platform for buying high-end wines that has quintupled its sales so far in isolation and plans to close the year with a turnover of $50 million.
Behind Viners is an intergenerational duo of entrepreneurs. On one side is Matías Aron, 32, who has a degree in International Trade, and on the other is Carlos Affur, 65, who is an engineer and sommelier.
Aron worked for five years in Brazil, in an investment group that in 2017 decided to open an office in Buenos Aires and sent Aron back to Argentina to coordinate that landing. Working with colleagues from other countries who occasionally traveled to Argentina, Aron realized that the sector of tourists and executives who wanted to buy wines to take away did not receive adequate service nor did they have the possibility of making tax refund tickets.
"The offers did not cater to this segment. The executives who came to Buenos Aires ended up running to a wine store, trying to find what they were looking for, and they did not even have a suitable packaging to take it by plane. I had pluribol bags in the office for help them pack the bottles," he says.
In 2018, with the Argentine economy in one of its worst moments, the Brazilian group in which he worked decided to leave the country and Aron agreed to his departure. Together with Affur, they began to study the market and in January they launched the Viners website. Since then, they have invested US$150,000.
Although its initial public was foreign tourists, who before the quarantine represented 30% of sales volume, the coronavirus pandemic modified the universe of its consumers. On the one hand, this universe was expanded by the number of people who, unable to buy physically, turned to digital channels for the first time. On the other hand, and due to international circulation restrictions, its public became purely local.
In this altered scenario, the sales volume grew exponentially. "Before the quarantine we had a monthly average of 140 orders and now we have reached 750," says Aron, who projects billing $50 million in sales this year.
He believes that the explanation is associated, in some way, with the fact that wine became a consumption of home enjoyment during confinement, the complement of a moment of relaxation at home. And that may have accompanied, according to Aron, a change that can be seen in the transformation of wine consumption in recent years. "Wine has been losing ground compared to other drinks such as craft beer because it did not know how to reach millennials, the younger audience. However, everything that is high-end, premium and super-premium has been growing. That speaks of change associated in search of quality: people consume less cheap wines and more premium ones", he points out.
Viners operates 100% online and offers nearly 500 high-end wine labels and boutique wineries, with bottles starting at $400 and going up to $21,800. Among the things that Aron highlights from his proposal, he points out the possibility of doing a "palate test" on the web, which virtually replaces the experience of advice from a sommelier in a wine bar.
Medium: The Nation
By Delfina Torres Cabreros