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Free Delivery Trial - Ongoing Thoughts

So the free delivery trial has been with us for around six months. I assume it is still a trial and not officially announced as permanent.

I thought it would be interesting to hear some thoughts on the free delivery offer now it has been with us for a while.

I was initially dubious about the idea from a sustainability point of view, it seemed that the costs for sending an £8 bottle of wine by free courier delivery would be prohibitive. And someone, somewhere has to pay the delivery cost so I was concerned that prices would rise as a result.

That said, I have been very pleased with the free delivery from a purely consumer point of view. It is great hearing people discuss a specific wine and being able to order a single bottle to try. I have used it a lot over the past few months, from everything from buying the rather nice WS Olive Oil to just buying a bottle or two here or there. You want a specific bottle for the weekend, if you order it on Monday it will be with you on Friday. I mean, you can even buy a £3 can of beer and have it delivered for free. It is really an incredibly generous offer.

I have used it a lot and think it is a great addition really from the point of viewing of Members buying wine.

From the WS point of view I suppose whether the policy has been successful is only known to the various finance teams within WS. I think the policy has probably increased the amount I buy although not dramatically and it has certainly spread out those purchases into much smaller deliveries. It has made buying gifts for people a bit of a doddle, pop on the website order a single nice bottle and have it delivered for free to the recipient by Courier. I guess WS will be looking at total bottles brought, how they are purchased (presumably more smaller orders and less big orders) and total spend on delivery during the trial.

There may also be cost savings to be made, perhaps less claims from a case of 12 being smashed on route and perhaps delivery companies prefer and charge less for small bottle deliveries than case deliveries.

I know from the industry that reaction has ranged from perplexed (how on earth can they afford to do that) to almost anger (how on earth can my small wine shop website charging £6.95 for single bottle delivery now compete with WS) and quite how WS manages it and hopefully still retains profit margins without raising prices is a mystery - even Amazon charges a yearly fee for unlimited free delivery.

We also have the slight annoyance whereby you are actually penalised if you place wines into reserve. You want a single bottle ordered from the website - free delivery. You want a single bottle taken from reserves then it is £10 please. Ideally, we’d end up with a system where is is the same whether you want a single bottle from the website or if you want a single bottle taken from reserves (which is surely just the same system but traipsing over to a different warehouse).

Assuming the free delivery system doesn’t result in higher per wine prices (where the delivery fee is simply absorbed into the per bottle pricing) then I hope it remains and I hope it is extended to reserves in the future as well.

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I have a feeling I have seen/heard somewhere that this is actually going to end this month. Apologies, but I can’t find a source for this - I may have been told by CS though.

I would admit to being dead set against it initially (due to the points raised above re cost to the Society & concerns about sustainability), but would admit I’ve actually found it useful.

For me it’s ideal if I need something specific at short(ish) notice, or for picking up the odd bottle of higher-priced wine that I previously wouldn’t have bought previously due to extra costs to get it delivered or made up to a 6 for reserves.

It will be interesting to see if we get any feedback on how successful it’s been from Society POV. I suspect it hasn’t increased my overall spend, but it has been a conveniant option to have.

I’m also a big fan.

My view is if it’s financially viable for TWS then it should stay. I don’t have enough money to regularly buy more than a couple of bottles of wine so the policy has made wine from TWS much more accessible for me personally.

I used to have to pad out my orders with bottles I didn’t really want or wait until enough bottles I wanted came in stock that I could put together a big enough order to get free delivery. However, given that a lot of wines on the website can sell out in a matter of days this rarely worked out. Now when a wine I’ve been waiting for comes online I know I can easily purchase a bottle or two.

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I think that’s the issue - financial viability.

There’s no reason it cannot remain indefinitely but you have the sneaking feeling that if it does that the nice £8 bottle you regularly enjoy will quietly be rising to £8.50 as a result.

It’s not like WS had large margins on wine to begin with. They have always maintained, and borne out by prices commercial rivals charge, that the per bottle margin is a small as it can be. If so, it doesn’t give much cushion for accommodating an large increase in delivery costs.

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“It is really an incredibly generous offer.”

I’ve got mixed feelings about the offer - it’s obviously very handy in some ways, though logic would tend to make me think it’s not environmentally very sound. But I feel obliged to point out that as TWS is a cooperative, owned by the members, ultimately we are paying the cost somehow, so it’s not really that generous. It might in some ways be a slightly socialist redistribution!

Personally I can’t bring myself to order one bottle; it just doesn’t seem right. I have once ordered a box of 6, which may or may not have previously been liable for a charge, but my other orders were definitely above the threshold.

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I have used it a few times, usually to try one of a more expensive bottle before taking the plunge for more. Without this free delivery i probably would just have shrugged and not bothered at all. Consequently my spend with TWS has increased…

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I’ve done similar although sometimes trying a single bottle has persuaded me not to bother with a whole case. Which is obviously good for me but less good news for WS sales.

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Yes, it finishes at 4pm next Monday, 12th September - Free Delivery

It’s been extended once so maybe it will be again, or perhaps there’ll be a lower threshold for free delivery than the old £75 level.

I had mixed feelings initially, but have used it a couple of times for wines I knew would sell out quickly or to try a bottle prior to buying a case.

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Many thanks for highlighting the end of the trial, no doubt my small order will be but one of a flurry of orders over the next couple of days to take advantage whilst it lasts.

I’ve enjoyed it too, using it to buy a bottle of the latest bin series when it was released or a couple of the white Musar in addition to regular mix cases of 12 or 15 for everyday drinking.

It will be a real shame if it ends but understandable. For some like the bin I probably just wont bother unless it’s something I really want (like the Musar) then I’ll pay the fee.

Ongoing thoughts:

It’s worth reading @Antony-FB0B5 post. In my younger day’s that was certainly my position - a trip to oddbins to buy a couple of bottles was a highlight every fortnight or so. If TWS Free Delivery opens up the world of good wine to more people - then that’s great. Think of it as investing in future TWS members.

Perhaps TWS can find a compromise: a minimum 3 bottle delivery ? I’ve seen cases that size - it’s do-able.

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Exactly my point. At some point you have to look at gaining the next generation of members. The great prices at TWS definitely help, but if you have to pay £5 deliver to get a bottle or fork out £70+ per order then you become inaccessible to almost everyone my age that is interested in wine. A lower free delivery threshold (say £30) would probably be fine too but then I wonder whether that would necessarily be much cheaper for TWS than the free delivery scheme.

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Free delivery on all orders has been made permanent - the Terms and Conditions have been updated today to remove the reference to the trial period and to the previous £75 threshold.

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Excellent news indeed: Free UK delivery for all members

I ended up putting in a few orders before the trial ended but pleased to have had my hand pushed.

Just need to allow single bottles into reserves…

What a splendid society.

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Three cheers…

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Thanks for the update. Despite thinking I wouldn’t, I have made use of it - for both the Bin #012 and the 2019 Burlotto Pelaverga when it was first released. I only wanted those specific wines and didn’t fancy making up a whole order.

With regards the environmental impact, I’ve been thinking - I see DHL vans down my road multiple times per day. If they are here anyway, what is the impact of another stop in the same road? I can only choose a TWS delivery when they are in my area, so probably fairly similar situation.

Cost to the Society is a bit more complicated, but I know that unit costs for deliveries drop with scale and also with parcel weight, so with the volume I assume they are dealing with, the impact might not be too severe.

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