By James Atkinson

Small liquor importers report extremely promising early sales of their products through Dan Murphy’s Connections, the new ‘drop ship’ venture that expands the retailer’s online range from 8200 to about 20,000 products.

Connections is touted as an ‘endless aisle’ of boutique wines, craft beers, artisan spirits and speciality imports that couldn’t be accommodated in bricks and mortar stores.

Under the ‘drop ship model’, suppliers provide a virtual consignment and self-manage their own range on the Connections website, as well as picking and packing their products for collection by NexDay, Dan’s logistics partner. [continues below]

Vanguard Luxury Brands has 34 different SKUs listed on the Connections site. Founder James France told TheShout the company is already benefiting from the exposure, with the Dan Murphy’s website attracting two million unique users a month.

“It works for all parties because we’re getting our brands out there and it’s no risk for them – if a product doesn’t sell, they’re not stuck with it,” he said.

“We’re getting up to three orders coming through every day now and we’ve been selling across the portfolio, it’s not as if they’ve just been hammering away at one line.”

He expects the demand is from consumers who have trialled Vanguard’s products – which are not widely available in retail – in bars around the country and want a bottle for home.

“Calle 23 Tequila is a really good example of that… we’ve been selling a fair bit of Calle 23, so I think people are probably pretty relieved that they can finally find it.”

Quittin Time's Curtis York (centre) and sons

Curtis York, founder of spirits importer Quittin Time, told TheShout that his company has its entire range of 92 products listed on the Connections website and the early sales results are promising.

“For a site that really hasn’t even started promoting itself we’re doing quite well out of it,” he said.

“It gives exposure to people like us that really do work hard to bring unique and quality premium products into the country. Otherwise it’s awfully hard to compete with the Diageos and Pernod Ricards and Brown-Formans.”

Valerie Blayac of Cerbaco, a specialist importer of French products, said that there were orders for her products, including Dolin Vermouth and Pineau des Charentes, from the first day they went live.

“We already have our own online shop, but the main difference here is the exposure,” she said, adding that there was no pressure from the Connections buyers in relation to price.

“They are not aggressive on this type of product,” she said.

Spirits products currently represent about half of the Connections inventory, which includes 300 different types of bitters alone.

But wine is expected to eventually dominate as the range is gradually expanded beyond the existing contributions, including those from Australia’s A. Retief, Sorby Adams and Captain Barossa as well as from importers such as AfriCape Wines and The Spanish Acquisition.

Suppliers need only have a single bottle of a unique SKU to be able to range it on the Connections website. 

The full Connections range can be viewed here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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