COVID-19 | Business as usual?

In this period of uncertainty and anxiety, we’ve decided to bring you some indications of how the epidemic is affecting business and how we’re dealing with current events at iDealwine.

Even though we’ve kept this virus at a distance for a certain period, it’s clear that we can no longer act as though everything were normal, as it is now having an effect on our daily lives. Whilst the peak of the epidemic is not yet behind us, let’s take stock of the situation and approach the questions everyone is asking.

Since when has the COVID-19 virus been affecting the fine wine market?

The virus appeared at the end of 2019 in the Hubei region, China. But it was mainly from the beginning of January that we saw business beginning to slow in the Asian region. China experienced long weeks of closure, with the traditional Chinese New Year holidays being extended. At this point, the most prestigious producers of Champagne and Cognac alerted the markets to the risk of decreased volumes being sent to Asia.

Today, it is clear that the effects of the epidemic are playing out across the world. In Asia, the number of cases diagnosed is diminishing. Italy, severely affected by the virus, has completely closed itself off. In the wake of this action, other European countries are all getting ready to follow suit for several weeks in the hope of stemming the spread of the epidemic. iDealwine has a presence in both Europe (with offices in Paris and Bordeaux) and Asia, with our representative in Hong Kong. Furthermore, our clients span the whole globe, something that has greatly contributed to our success so far this year. Let’s analyse the situation, market by market.

Sales in Asia

It makes sense to start with Asia, the first area hit by the Covid-19 virus.

What we’ve seen in terms of sales so far has been reassuring: our Asian clients (who represented 16.2% of our sales revenue in 2019) have not significantly altered their buying habits since the beginning of the epidemic. And there are several factors that might explain this. Traditional, anticipatory purchases leading up to Chinese New Year didn’t weaken at all, with our sales even progressing by 37% in January compared to the same month in 2019. The rarity of the wines on offer continues to have an enchanting effect on clients, since February continued in much the same way (30%), with the first sales in March looking equally well-placed.

If sales have remained just as dynamic, there has been a significant effect on everything logistic. Numerous flights to Hong Kong were cancelled from the 14th February, meaning that palettes containing orders for our Asian customers, shipped every 10 days, were a bit late, and delivery prices increased by 35%.

Sales in Europe and the US

In France, business has continued to grow (by 8% in January and 14% in February). We’re expecting a less impressive performance in March, not only because of the unexpected position the country finds itself in, but also because the same month in 2019 saw a sales record! The other dynamic markets for iDealwine have been Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Italy. There’s no doubt that the latter will somewhat lose its appetite for luxury purchases in the weeks to come, though only time will tell. At large, however, Europe remains promising for iDealwine, since the volume of our sales has increased 50% since the beginning of this year in comparison to the progress made at this time in 2019.

The American market for now remains in its earliest stages, representing 3% of our sales revenue. It is nonetheless an area towards which our team is making a great effort. This is a market that has sprung back into action after the uncertainty that weighed over the imposition of the 25% tax on wine imports.

Is now the moment to sell your cellar, or even just a few bottles?

Whilst governments have been discouraging citizens from moving at all, e-commerce offers an alternative choice, with all the tools to continue providing services. When it comes to wine, even though this is not a priority purchase, digital platforms have come into their own, particularly as more and more in-person events are postponed.

With this in mind, it’s certainly not a bad time to take a little tour of your cellar, perhaps picking out some of the bottles you’re unlikely to drink yourself. The reasons for trusting us with your treasures are several:

  • With 60 buying countries, the auction platform remains attractive. If there is a risk of things slowing down in Europe over the next weeks, Asia is already seeing business pick up again. We should clarify that any restrictions on the movement of people, such as those just imposed by the US, don’t affect the movement of goods.
  • The varied selection of wines available on our platform always attracts a wide variety of buyer profiles. The average price for bottles sold to Asia and the US is considerably higher than elsewhere. Therefore, the thirst for fine, rare wine is showing no signs of running dry, even when import taxes increase or health situations cause buyers to stay at home.
  • iDealwine’s strength rests with a solid and loyal group of private buyers. But the rarity of certain bottles also attracts professionals looking for mature vintages or collectable names to complete their selections.
  • iDealwine continues to offer a full service (collection, expertise, insurance) and guarantees to sellers in terms of payment for their wine (payment guaranteed 35 days after the closure of the auction). Fixed-price sales are also an option for sellers who wish to get their bottles moving more quickly.

As a buyer, can I still have my purchases delivered or collect my wines safely?

Our team is working really hard to ensure that our business continues as usual, and this in terms of our expertise and our provision of fine wine.

In terms of your deliveries, the parcels will still be shipped quickly. It is normal to expect a wait of 2-5 days in France, even if we might have to foresee a few delays over the next few weeks.

For clients who wish to collect their bottles directly from our premises in Colombes or at the 228 Litres bar, we’ve put extra hygiene measures in place so that we can ensure the safety of both our team and our clients.

However, for those of you who wish to delay the delivery of your bottles, iDealwine is putting a period of free storage in place, at least until the end of the confinement period and the closure of schools and universities.

Is it the moment to open a bottle to fight the virus?

Is wine the healthiest of drinks? Don’t count on us to reassure you on this controversial subject! Even if we take Pasteur’s advice with a pinch of salt, we’d like to suggest, in all moderation, that a nice bottle opened and shared in good company will perhaps help to dissipate some of the tension that comes with times of stress such as this.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have about your purchases or the potential sale of your bottles. Our teams are ready to respond and put in place everything within our capabilities to ensure the best conditions and the continuity of our business. We’re counting on your loyalty and your enthusiasm in these times of uncertainty. See you soon at iDealwine!

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