The team at Oak Road Estate are as much curators as they are creators. And they take wine seriously. The online cellar door operates mostly on a grape-to-glass model, procuring carefully chosen ingredients from beloved wine regions around Australia and making delicious drops in-house.
“90% of our inventory is our own private label,” Ezra Mcinnes, Oak Road Estate CEO, says. “We produce it, we bottle it, and we sell that straight to the consumer.”
This model has helped Oak Road build a base of loyal customers, who feel they’re getting top-shelf wine at a fraction of the cost. “We can offer great value because we’re in charge of production,” Ezra says. “And that keeps our product consistent in quality because we know what’s going into each bottle.”
2020 changed Australian shopping habits, with 200,000 new households shopping online for the first time in April.1 Oak Road experienced a spike that month, with online sales volumes jumping to 25% of their overall revenue – about 4,000 to 5,000 cases a month. Wine Australia believes the boost to online sales across the industry during the pandemic will continue long after COVID-19 is gone.2
“We’ve been able to hold onto that huge growth we saw in April,” Oak Road Estate General Manager Daniel De Salvo says. “We took market share, we got new customers, and we’ve been able to retain them and continue to grow.”
Australia Post parcel data indicates Wine & Liquor purchases grew 50.5% year on year in 2020. But Oak Road Estate exceeded that benchmark, growing sales by 160% during the calendar year.
Unlike many wine producers around Australia, Oak Road Estate doesn’t have a physical cellar door. That means no in-person sales. All business is conducted online or over the phone via cold calling. Delivering on customer expectations that accompany these channels has been key to the company’s growth.
“We’ve got a lot of sticky customers,” Ezra says. “They tell us that the service is so efficient, the quality is high and the price is great. We have very few customers that only buy one time. Each averages about five to seven orders.”
Confidence by the glass
Being able to provide a secure transaction experience is paramount for a business like Oak Road. It was especially important for new online shoppers to feel secure at checkout time.
The company uses Australia Post SecurePay to provide a smooth customer experience.
“SecurePay has given us a lot of security around customer credit card details,” Ezra says.
“That’s been a big one for us. We deal with thousands of transactions, and it’s very important customers feel safe with us.”
Daniel says one benefit he values is that SecurePay confirms the CVV number found on the back of many credit cards without his team needing to capture those details.
“Customers are thrilled they don’t have to say their numbers out loud, especially if it’s a cold call. They feel safe. It removes one more point of friction in the transaction.
“All we need is the number and the expiry date on the front. Then SecurePay verifies the card on behalf of the customer.”
Ezra says SecurePay also makes it easier to look into and settle customer enquiries.
“There have been times when customers haven’t received a refund or they’ve been double charged, and we’ve been able to resolve it quickly for them. I think working with a big organisation like Australia Post gives our customers confidence.
“We’ve been able to resolve every issue that we’ve come across, on the customer side and our side.”
Savings by the barrel
Oak Road has used the SecurePay payment gateway since the business started six years ago. But in mid-May the company began using the SecurePay merchant facility as well, due to its pricing structure.
With SecurePay, which partners with NAB to provide the merchant account,3 transaction costs scale with sales. This means businesses don’t have to pre-purchase transaction capability. Domestic card payments incur a 1.75% plus AUD$0.30 fee, while international cards have a 2.9% plus AUD$0.30 fee.4
“We were able to lock-in one flat rate, which saves us thousands,” Ezra says. “We used to have to spend a few grand every quarter buying bulk packs of thousands of transactions. Now we only pay per transaction.”
“We’ve seen significant cost savings since switching, about 0.2 to 0.3%, which really adds up.”
He says SecurePay has also saved his business time and money by helping to detect fraudulent transactions before they happen. Oak Road gets an alert when a payment has been rejected for being suspicious. This can be especially important during the busy holiday peak.
“It seems like each Christmas somebody pops up and places a large order of champagne to some bogus address,” Ezra says. “We’ve had several payments that have been pulled up and stopped and we’ve been able to stop those orders from going out.
“SecurePay has been right on top of it and been able to fix it quickly. It’s very reassuring.”
Decanting great delivery
The Oak Road Estate team says Australia Post’s eParcel delivery service is another big reason their customers keep coming back for a top-up.
“We hear these nightmare stories about missed pickups with other providers,” Ezra says. “We end up getting their customers, servicing them better and then they stay with us.”
Daniel says Oak Road customers appreciate receiving notifications about shipment and arrival dates. These played a big part in keeping a growing number of customers happy during the uncertainty of 2020 – and through into 2021.
“The way Australia Post conducts themselves is absolutely first class,” Ezra says. “We couldn’t have asked for better service. You’ll never get a complaint from us about Australia Post.”