The Shazam for wine had quite a big year.
Vivino, an app that lets users search for wines by taking a picture of the label and read customer reviews, raised $155 million last February. The app now has over 50 million users worldwide, and says it facilitated around $250 million in sales last year. Founder and CEO Heini Zachariassen joined the Modern Retail Podcast, and spoke about this newfound growth.
The app is over ten years old, and only a few years back began adding commerce to the mix. Before getting users to transact, the first order of business was getting people to use it. “This is a land grab,” said Zachariassen. “We want to be the biggest wine app in the space.”
In its early days, Vivino was focused on being an intuitive app that people would use for wine research. The idea was to build a user habit -- people would pull out the app while they were perusing bottles at the wine store. Commerce, said Zachariassen, would come later as it’s “a bit of a complex thing to do.” The focus at first, he said, was to “learn about the user.”
But since 2016, the company has been building relationships with wine retailers to make it easier for Vivino users to buy wine. The pandemic, however, was when wine sales really began hitting their stride. Said Zachariassen, “2020 has been really a breakthrough for us.”
With more people using Vivino to buy wine, the focus now is to find more app users -- and add more retail partners to the mix. Zachariassen said that this latest investment is about growing the 200-person team and putting marketing on the front burner. Now, he said, he wants to prove how big the online wine business can grow.
“If this reaches scale, there is money to be made,” Zachariassen said. “This is a real business -- now we’re going to push the accelerator.”