When I started building Snooth I had an unclear picture of the wine industry. If I can recall properly, from the outside I always assumed it was well structured, well defined, and well planned. None of these assumptions ended up being the case, but wine's mystique holds up for the industry as well as its product.
Now when I look at the wine industry, I see problems. Many of the problems are only resolved by fighting in our courtrooms. I have no interest in going there (although I do support the efforts of those who do). What I am interested in is the use of technology to fulfill a need for the industry. We have found very specifically that technology has yet to penetrate the industry as far as it has elsewhere. It's a temporary condition. We're very happy and fortunate to have interacted with many of the technological innovators in the space, some of whom we will meet in person later this week. For better or worse, the high-touch way of doing business is coughing and spluttering and being replaced by a business supported by computers. We notice the difference. Our partners who have embraced technology are better able to serve their customers.
The opportunity that Snooth provides is twofold. First, it helps the brick and mortar stores to connect up to the web -- they can reach customers they couldn't before, and serve those around them better. This is true especially as we begin to serve recommendations for stores in your area where others have enjoyed shopping and recommendations for wines you should try that are sold at those stores. That's a real need, and it's coming.
Secondly, it infuses the whole buying process with the social aspect that is so special about wine. We want you to connect with us, and with other folks, about wine. We're all passionate here -- and all of us can learn something. I know I love learning and sharing knowledge. What's coming up here? We're soon adding the ability to share wines directly with your friends via Grapevine message or even in Talk if you want to hear everyone's thoughts. Talk will be doubly helpful when you can search it and find discussions about that which you are curious. As it grows, Talk essentially becomes a knowledge base with interesting information for the novice or the expert .
This opportunity to have a global conversation about our passion while simultaneously shopping smarter and better is what we're about. It won't work without the stores, and it won't work without you. So join on in -- we're happy to have you all and your involvement encourages us to work even harder!
- Reply by Philip James, Apr 22, 2008.
Mark - thats a fantastic post. When the CTO can blog like this, there soon won't be much room for me! I'm also very excited by the upcoming wine 2.0 event, this is their 3rd, i believe, but the first Snooth will attend and with over 500 guests i have some high expectations.
- Reply by John Andrews, Apr 22, 2008.
The idea of Snooth is something that I think has been needed for a long time. I used to work at a company in the late 90s and 2000 that had this grand vision of being the portal that glued suppliers to manufacturers, consumers to retailers and warehouses to shippers. The concept is provide a way for people that want to sell something with people that want to buy something. We never truly achieved this but sites like Snooth show it can work. I feel that the second element, the social network, provides just as much value to pricing and rating and I'm happy that I found my way into this.
- Reply by oceank8, Apr 22, 2008.
Ditto! As I keep saying, love what you all do. I am excited about the ability to search the talk section. As more people post, it will help keep down repetition and allow people a comfort of checking it out before asking. Keep up the awesome work!
- Reply by Mark Angelillo, Apr 24, 2008.
@Philip -- Ha. Maybe a more technical post next time, eh?
@HondaJohn -- Glad to be giving the vision some shape!
@Oceank8 -- That's a great point. We want folks who join in the conversation to feel as comfortable as possible. I know that when I think about posting in forums I worry about having reposted an old topic.
@Squirt -- Valid points. I don't think we intend to put a great amount of effort into changing the wine industry by fighting it. We're going to stick to our work here, and any changes that happen as a result will be a natural and organic progression.
- Reply by Squirt, Apr 24, 2008.
The trouble that I see is, in an industry with many people with hands in the pie, it's going to be very difficult to change the system as it is now. You can try all you want and bluster until the cows come home, but in the end the distributers control the industry and it's going to be very hard to convince them that it's in the best interest of the "Wine Industry" to let go of some of the purse strings in order to increase total sales. Once you have an understanding with them then you will have to work with the politicians, to truly create an understanding that direct shipment is something that is good for consumers. If they no longer have their fingers in the revenue stream.
I like the concept of Snooth, and it has very valid reasons for existence. However, if you are trying to effect change in a very entrenched industry, you have significant obstacles in your course.