WineDirect: Supply Chain Management in the U.S. Wine Industry
In late May 2009, New Vine Logistics (“New Vine”), a Napa-based wine shipping and fulfillment company, abruptly closed its doors, leaving hundreds of clients scrambling for information on their orders and inventory.
Six days after New Vine’s closure, Inertia Beverage Group (IBG), a provider of solutions for the creation and expansion of online wine marketplaces, agreed in principle to acquire New Vine and provide interim cash funding to revitalize operations. The resulting organization provided the industry’s only fully integrated direct-to-market solution incorporating e-commerce, compliance, and logistics capabilities. Nine months later, in March 2010, Joseph Waechter, who had spent 15 years at DHL and was credited with the growth and expansion of the company into the world’s largest express shipment company, was appointed CEO of IBG.
Under Waechter’s direction, the company set out a new strategy to expand access to new markets. Despite operating in a highly regulated industry, WineDirect facilitated winery direct-to-consumer fulfillment in 45 states, enabling the company to reach 90 percent of the U.S. wine-drinking public. In 2015 alone, WineDirect enabled more than $1 billion in direct wine sales and shipped more than 8 million bottles of wine through its three fulfillment centers.
Still, Waechter thought about the greatest current business opportunities as a supply chain management firm. Further, he wondered what types of existing or new wine businesses could and should be leveraging WineDirect’s supply chain management capabilities.
This case describes the challenges faced by the growth of the direct-to-consumer segment of the wine industry. It covers growth, trends, and regulatory matters within the wine industry, as well as WineDirect’s competitive offering, customers, and brief economics.