December 17, 2020

“What the Tech?!” with Commerce7

By Angela Oemcke

Being in the #winetech game with our connected packaging solution, it’s safe to say the team at Cellr love talking innovation in the wine industry- and we think you will too. In this installment of “What the Tech?!” we got chatting with Andrew Kamphuis, President at Canadian #winetech company, Commerce7

What was it that got you working in the wine industry?

I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver, loving the web and technology and knowing zero about wine (my parents don’t drink). In the early 2000’s I had a tech company and we were developing a lot of ecommerce software, I loved ecommerce. 

One referral led to another and I met some people in wine and I was able to develop a custom wine label creation software (to design and buy wine labels online), followed by some wine club and ecommerce software.  

It was pretty early days – but several of the companies were a hit and it grew from there.  

In 2008 I founded Vin65 which by 2012 had 600 or 700 winery customers and I sold to WineDirect and became the president of WineDirect until 2016.

Tell us about Commerce7, what’s the tech and how does it work? 

Commerce7 is software that allows wineries to sell their wine directly to consumers. It’s similar to Shopify except its purpose built for wine. It’s ecommerce software, a point of sale system, wine club software, and reservation software all in one package.  

Commerce7 differs from Shopify in that its purpose built for wine which has a lot of advantages as wine is very nuanced. Commerce7 differs from all of the other wine specific software out there in that it’s modern technology (there is a lot of old and dead technology in the wine space) and more importantly it’s customer centric and really doubles down on the customer experience.

As one of the original founders of Commerce7, what inspired you to create a customer centric commerce platform for the alcohol industry?

When I left WineDirect in 2016 I wasn’t intending to come back into wine. I was really excited about a lot of different technology. Machine learning (some people call it AI) was just starting.  The cloud and CPU speeds were getting to a point where we can crank through enormous amounts of data. I saw what Amazon and others were doing with personalization, and how they were driving sales and I wanted to bring that to small business.

At first I was going to bring all of that customer centric software, the personalization, the machine learning, to small business and I started down that path.  During that time I was continually called by numerous wineries and I got to the point where I just shifted the code and focused on wine.

What did the early days for Commerce7 look like? What was your approach to engaging wine producers with your product? 

Early days were fun, this was my third go around. At first it was just me, then my friend Jason Andres (someone I went to highschool with and worked with me at my last two start ups) joined me.

Unlike last time, we weren’t cash strapped (Commerce7 is self funded). However we wanted to do everything differently. And we wanted to really focus on a few core ideas and leave everything else to others. 

Early days, customers called us, and we had a lot of control over what we were going to build (in our previous companies nobody knew who we were and had to really claw for our first clients and in doing that we had to build what they wanted instead of what we wanted).

Where is Commerce7 currently being used, and what has the feedback been so far? 

We are just over two years old and we are being used by over 400 wineries. Caymus, Opus One, Robert Mondavi, William Chris, etc. Commerce7 is being used by wineries in Canada, United States, Australia, a limited number of wineries in Europe, and over 30 wineries in South Africa. 

Wineries who come to Commerce7 see an instant boost in their club and ecommerce sales.  Constellation wrote in the 2019 August WineBusiness Monthly that their sales grew 35% when they switched to Commerce7.

Commerce7 doesn’t have all of the features that a winery might want, but it will create a great experience for their customers, and their customers will really love the experience around the wine club, and ecommerce.

What is a success story/case study you can share with us about a Commerce7 customer?

How about I just leave you with 3 things:

First here is what a customer said to a winery:  “Hey Ron. I wanted to let you know that your website for club members seems head and shoulders above many others. Yours makes it easy to modify things online. We were trying to modify our membership at another winery and the only option was to phone in or try a Hail Mary email to an info@… account. At another winery we wanted to modify the wines selected for our membership level pick up and that required an email to the club director. Your website, in contrast, has options to cancel or suspend membership (very useful I think) and a method to change the make up of the order; most everything is editable. Nice!”

Second a few stats from our data book, which you can access here

  • Average one year churn rate for a winery’s wine club is 17.4%.  On Commerce7 that’s 12.3% if the customer has a user choice club.   
  • 20.7% average increase in club package order value when a customer edits their club members (and on C7, you will have a 38.4% edit rate if you use our 2 week and 2 day pre-shipment notification emails)
  • 63% of ecommerce orders during Covid came from new customers who’ve never purchased the winery before.
  •  

These stats are telling the story of our software for themselves.

Third, Constellation announced in August 2019 their sales had increased 35% when they switched from WineDirect to Commerce7. A large winery that launched on Commerce7 in October just wrote me an email that November was their largest ecommerce month ever. I’m still waiting to get the full story on that, but this is what happens when you really focus on the customer experience.

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