This interview is with Nitesh Bhatia, CEO and founder of Just Wines, a successful Australian online wine retailer which began in 2014. Here is his story so far.
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your business?
Hi, I’m Nitesh Bhatia. I’m 28 – I founded and am CEO of Just Wines, an online wine retailer launched in 2014.
In 4 years, we have become the second largest wine retailer in Australia (in product range) – offering 6,000 products. We sell wine produced by 1,000+ suppliers from Australia and New Zealand (250 of these are small boutique wineries). Our customer base grown to 70,000 and sales have increased from 100 bottles to 150,000 bottles of wine per month.
How many employees do you have?
Currently we have 18 team members in total.
What motivated you to get started with your business?
Starting Just Wines came natural to us as I had been doing stuff on eBay while I was in University to clear some Extra Cushion Covers from the Family Business – Vivin Imports.
Starting Just Wines was something that came natural to my brother and I. While I was studying at Macquarie University, for extra money, I had begun selling cushion covers – extra stock to clear from the family furniture business, Vivin Imports.
A friend came to me with the idea of starting a wine distribution service, and after giving it some thought, I decided to go for it. I got some small investment from my family’s business, but really just started the company with a desk and a laptop and even though my friend is no longer involved, I kept going – learning and applying principles I’d learned on eBay.
Every happy customer will tell people and result in at least one more customer.
Who is the ideal customer for your business? Why would they benefit from your business?
We believe that all Just Wines customers – current and ideal – are people with a sense of adventure when it comes to experiencing Australian and New Zealand wine. Our customers are from all corners of Australia – location is no issue because purchasing is done online from our site with fast delivery.
We have over 6095+ Australian and New Zealand products available, and so no matter what our customers’ favourite wines, there is a very good chance they will find their favourite brand our website so even if it is an obscure wine from a boutique winemaker, they don’t have to travel or look too hard to find it.
In fact, I challenge anyone in Australia to look for their favourite on our site and if they don’t find it there and its is not cheapest online, they Another benefit for Just Wines’ customers is our members system, Trophy Club, which I believe is the best around. In addition to all the discounts and rewards each month, if anyone joins the VIP Membership, they also get free delivery and a free bottle of wine with every order for 12 months.
Looking back, how has your business evolved from initial idea to now?
We started off focusing on a very small number of wines – less than 50. We had a great response but our customers asked for more brands to be available.
Applying the lessons I learned while doing business on eBay via the Rate and Review functions, we felt it was very important for us to listen to our customers and keep adding more products for them to be available to purchase.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Believe in yourself, listen to your gut feeling -there is a very good chance you already know what to do. Most importantly, always keep your customers happy, even if you mess up badly.
How do you market your business to attract new customers?
We have thousands of new customers that find us organically and through word of mouth. We have believed from Day 1 that every happy customer will tell people and result in at least one more customer. Our main focus is on keeping our customers happy.
We also pay attention to SEO and spend some time maintaining a social media presence.
What do you wish someone told you, before you started your business?
Hire very very selectively. As our business grew, we hired very fast and some of those staff left even faster. Fortunately, eight out of the first 10 team members are still with us.
They have helped the business immensely with their knowledge and understanding about the business. We have built the business together. Ensure you hire people who understand what the business is all about.
How did you acquire your first 20 customers?
Friends and family – we gave out vouchers for them to try the website and share their experiences. Who doesn’t love a good wine and vouchers?
What are the main goals of your business?
To keep our customers happy with the quality and variety of wines available. At the same time, we want to be a channel for every Australian and New Zealand winery to be able to use to sell and market their products directly to thousands of customers in Australia.
Do you have a favourite business book, blog or podcast to recommend? Why?
I would highly recommend anyone starting out to listen to How I Built This with Guy Raz, and The One thing by Gary Keller. I had not read or heard about them when I started, but both have surely helped shaped both our business and me personally.
|Locations||Wetherill Park, Sydney, NSW.|