Two former Coca-Cola executives were clearly onto something when they launched a zero-sugar wine to appeal to rising interest in healthier drinking options. PURE The Winery works with an Italian winery which picks grapes early and uses alternative yeasts during fermentation to avoid a buildup of sugar. The company bottles and brands the resulting range of low-calorie, sugar-free rosé, red, white and sparkling wines, making it available to consumers around the world as demand for premium wine continues to grow.
PURE The Winery has won awards and praise from international wine critics in just two years since its debut. After spending a year getting its products onto shelves, the company had sold over 400,000 bottles. Its sugar-free wines are now shipped to 15 countries and stocked in hundreds of supermarkets, restaurants and wine outlets worldwide. PURE the Winery forecasts sales of over 1 million bottles and €10 million ($11.3 million USD) for 2022.
But it wasn’t all smooth sipping. In early 2020, sales for what was then primarily a wholesale distributor ground to a halt as hundreds of stores and restaurants shut down. This meant suspending plans for continued international expansion through resellers and brick-and-mortar retail. PURE The Winery had to try for online, direct-to-consumer sales instead.
A market thirsty for change
Since PURE The Winery launched its own webstores in Europe, online sales have climbed to comprise around 75% of annual sales. And in some areas of Europe, sales are now completely direct-to-consumer and online.
“The market was thirsty for online development, and conditions were right,” said Stuart Foster, financial controller and investor at PURE The Winery. “There aren’t that many global wine brands, especially sugar-free, so we saw an opportunity [to grow].”
The forced change made the brand re-evaluate its overall direction and mix of distribution channels. As it turns out, launching more webstores in more countries has given way to better control over sales, distribution and inventory.
Setting up for success
Leadership aimed to get the company on an ERP system from the start, however PURE The Winery used QuickBooks to record accounting transactions for a short time after launch. The system was far from efficient: Teams had to manually check everything from cash receipts to stock levels on a country-by-country basis. An analysis of top ERP vendors led the company to NetSuite OneWorld(opens in new tab).
Working with NetSuite partner Wipro, PURE The Winery implemented the solution in three months across multiple countries. The team simplified most of its accounting and inventory management processes(opens in new tab), saving up to eight days of work per quarter compared to when it was running on QuickBooks.
Planning for growing demand
Now, PURE The Winery also more easily manages the demand-related intricacies and needs of each of its markets: currently Europe, the US, Asia and Australia. For instance, teams now know a few months in advance how many bottles to distribute to the US; or how to plan for higher demand(opens in new tab) for red wine in Germany; or to ramp up supply for more rosé consumed during the summer.
“Running a wine production and international distribution business takes a long time to carefully plan, often months ahead,” said Foster. “We have to monitor our stock in various locations around the world. We have to plan our orders and plan our production with our partner in Italy. We have to monitor what we have in each of the different locations. Those were some of the main reasons for having a system like NetSuite.”
Meeting requirements with ease
Bottles also must be labelled and distributed according to specific VAT and export duty tax requirements that vary widely from country to country. QuickBooks wasn’t really up to this task, as it was really only suitable for recording a few accounting transactions.
“The US was relatively straightforward to deal with because our importer deals with most taxes, but Europe is extremely complicated, with multiple taxes and languages and some countries requiring daily updates on exact quantities sent across borders,” Foster said.
PURE The Winery automated the tax compliance process using NetSuite OneWorld, which comes with preconfigured tax codes and localized reporting for each country, real-time tax calculations on sales and purchase transactions, and more. With these tools, accounting staff increased their overall productivity by 40%. Plus, everyone can continue working remotely via the cloud.
As PURE The Winery continues to set up in more countries — including France, Italy and Ireland in 2022 — it counts on saving an extra day or two of work per quarter from more efficient accounting. Foster expects to continue getting more out of NetSuite as more employees within the organization and its multiple suppliers use the system more fully.
“It’s easier to grow more quickly when systems and processes are all running smoothly,” he said. “We rely on NetSuite to make sure everything is working seamlessly together.”
Learn more about NetSuite software for wholesale distributors(opens in new tab).