Tracking the Decline of WineBid 2015-2021

From 2009 through 2018, I used to win about 150 bottles of wine a year at WineBid. This was the vast majority of wine I bought each year. Prices moved up inexorably but WineBid was still the best option out there, for what I was looking for.

Then things went down hill fast. Despite a bigger wine budget, my WineBid buying dropped to 50% of my ‘09-‘18 level in 2019, and then to 15% in 2020 and 2021. This drop was entirely due to increases in the all-in hammer prices, not some pique about fees (those these didn’t help) — I found I could do much better elsewhere, the attractive deals at WineBid had seemed to dry up more or less overnight, so much so that I gradually just stopped checking WineBid each Sunday at all.

Just one (previously substantial) customer’s experience. Looks like they’ve done just fine without me.

Yeah. One anecdote. But also what I was suggesting—that in the end I could stomach the niggling chips at buyer benefits that ultimately end up being insignificant to the loss of value of WB as a source.

In the end an auction house’s job is to clear the best price for the seller, which means that if the buyers are there, it doesn’t matter that other buyers are not. And goodwill in the sense that might develop between a retailer and its customers is less important. But loss of product you might want to buy is what is most important on the buy side.

Maybe the presence of more buyers has winnowed away the “bargains”, because there is usually someone with enough knowledge of pricing not to let bottles slip away well underpriced? That’s not Winebid’s fault, it shows things are working pretty well, for both buyers and sellers.

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That is probably right Alan. Although I question given how auctions work whether it is underpriced. That implies people don’t buy at auction for a price higher than they could achieve elsewhere. I see it happen all the time on WB now, that people overpay.

But what you are saying does speak to WineBid’s success as a business. And it also means that someone like Patrick (or you or me) who may have better information about the value of a wine at a given price chooses not to participate. It doesn’t ultimate matter if we do or not given the sale is clearing at a price we wouldn’t pay.

All fair.

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Fair point, Alan.

I would add though that my drop in WineBidding did not come from getting outbid (which very rarely happened), but because the reserve prices went up so much. By and large, I just stopped finding things to bid on at all. And this shift seemed to occur abruptly.

Hey, more power to WineBid under their new CEO (who came aboard, I note, right about when l started heavily curtailing my buying there) for making more money for themselves and their consigners. I can and did take my commerce elsewhere, that’s the market working.

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For the wines I am seeking, Winebid is usually the only source. So it isn’t a value trade off with another site. It’s more take it or leave it.

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I see a range of pricing. Sometimes there will be a wine clearly underpriced, which gets bid up by several bidders, to a fair price (and sometimes a frothy price if someone really wants that bottle, welcome to auctions, lol). I watch any number of wines that are perhaps over what I want to pay. Sometimes they sell, sometimes they drop in price to a point I’m will to bid, sometimes they drop, and bidders pounce, only to push the price higher than it was the week before. Sometimes they just languish, because the price never drops (an option I believe sellers can choose). Any of those scenarios is just the market at work, trying to optimize pricing in the within the structures and pricing choices of sellers and winebid itself. I never have complaints about any of this, I simply make my own choices on what to bid on, what to sell, that fit my personal tolerances.

I would have to agree more with Pat that there are many fewer wines that start below value/typical retail asking price these days on Winebid. They are few and far between where they used to be pretty common. The site for me offered not only the rarer wines I was seeking but also opportunities to find some values as a smart shopper, so to speak. That equaled more purchases on average.

As starting prices have risen fairly aggressively to typical value prices, which are also rising over the last couple years, those value buys are disappearing. So casual shopping there is not as fruitful. I’m buying much less out of curiosity now and simply focusing on the particular wines that are more difficult to source in typical retail.

I am curious to see if and when the market softens again from this somewhat inflationary last couple years, if the starting prices start dropping again.

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When this thread prompted me to tally up my WineBid purchases through the years, I was shock to see 332 bottles for 2010! Granted, my cellar was in the building phase back then, but there were just so many irresistibly good deals back during the Great Recession. Nuts.

Had that just happen. I had set up a delivery date. The weather turned bad and they cancelled the shipment (glad they did), but then turned around and charged me storage because the wine wasn’t shipped. It wasn’t much, but a little annoyed as it wasn’t my fault the weather turned bad and they couldn’t ship.

A couple of general questions from me who missed out on business school.

Why raise fees when hammer prices are rising?

Why not just charge all the fees to either the buyer or the seller? Is it Purely psychological, because at a certain point I’d think your bound to get pushback from two sides then?

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Based on my last few weeks of purchases, answer remains: “nope”

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Been buying in fall of 2022. No one really buys Washington State wines so all good for me.

Ugh. I am/was tempted. There will be more…

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Got me again

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