Monday, December 9, 2013
Boston-based Drync started as a CellarTracker-like service in 2008. It offered a way to keep track of the wines you consumed and what you thought of them so you buy them again.
In 2013 they expanded their service to include actual fulfillment of wine orders. They're not a retailer - they're a marketing agent. The primary use model they're after is to make it as easy as possible for a regular person to immediately buy a wine they've enjoyed.
For example, you're at a restaurant or a friends house. You try a wine you love. With the Drync app you take a picture of the label or use their predictive typing to find the wine. If one of their retail partners carries the wine you can order it right there within the app.
The app offers a way to scan your credit card. You enter your address and within a 2-14 days your order is fulfilled by one of their retail partners and shipped to your home or office. They are currently able to ship to 42 states including Massachusetts.
They offer free shipping on 12 or more mixed bottles and shipping ranges from $9.99 for 2 bottles to $18.99 for 6-10 bottles. They require that you order at least 2 of each unique wine you order. It really couldn't be easier.
They are focused on the casual wine enthusiast who just wants to buy specific wines they've enjoyed without a lot of effort. But in my testing of the app I found that if you have an eye for value you can find some terrific deals. Especially when they're running a 20% off 12 bottle offer like they are right now.
How it works
Download the Drync iPhone app (it's free)
Next, add your shipping address and payment info. I don't remember if this is required to get going - it's probably not - but what you want to get after is trying to find some wines, right? So do that.
When you start using a mobile wine app you quickly realize it's a pain to manually enter wines by typing the full name of the wine and tapping "Search". Wine apps make it easier using some or all of these technologies:
- Predictive text input (Drync has this)
- Bar code scanning
- Label image recognition (Drync has this)
That's the Drync experience in a nutshell.
How it worked for me
The way I found the app most useful was in searching for wines I know I like and want to purchase again - if Drync has them for a really compelling price. In this use model, the predictive text input is nice. If I type "beauc" it auto completes with wines like Beaucastel so I don't have to remember how to type out the complete wine name and spell it correctly.
Here's an example scenario.
Say I want to look for a widely available wine like Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir. This wine carries a release price of $22 according to Wine Spectator.
If we tap on one of the entries it takes us to listing of vintages available. We can select "Current Vintage" or in this case 2012.
Another example scenario I tested was with the recently anointed 100-point 2009 Alto Moncayo. Drync lists it for $49.36. At 20% off with free shipping that's $39.49. That's a pretty nice deal for an 100-point wine!
I don't see many listings on Wine-Searcher for 2009 Alto Moncayo south of $40 so I was curious what other gems might be listed as available. I recalled what their Marketing Director Aimee Cronin told me about how they derive their listings from data feeds from their retail partners.
Might their retail partners have valid listings that don't show up on Wine-Searcher?
Take for example my beloved Cigliuti Serraboella Barbaresco. It was my wine of the year in 2010 (for their 2005 vintage bottling) and I've had a famously hard time finding it for less than $50. The best listing on Wine-Searcher right now for any bottle of Cigliuti Serraboella Barbaresco is $59.99 (link). But it's listed on Drync for $49.36 - so after 20% off (with free shipping and no tax in MA) that's $39.44! By far the best price in the country on a wine that's precious to me.
There might be some amazing deals here
After I found the Cigliuti I went through most of the wines I've ever rated 90 points or better on CellarTracker. I found some great listings on somewhat obscure wines that are indeed distributed in Massachusetts. You can't expect to find Scarecrow or Schrader. Or even Dehlinger or Zepaltas. Their retail availability is scarce nationwide and I don't think they're even distributed to MA.
But you can find wines like the 2005 Castano Casa Cisca. I tasted the 2011 at the winery and it was amazing. But very expensive. They said it would retail for north of $100 in the US if you can find it. But I can't. No recent listings turn up on Wine-Searcher.
However, Drync lists the 2005 for just $19.75. I'd be concerned the 2005 was shot - or worse yet - not the same wine I tasted in Spain. But thankfully Cliff Brown tasted the 2004 recently and said it was solid. He was able to catch it on a closeout for a similar price so maybe it's not too far fetched to believe this $100 wine could actually sell for ~$16 fully loaded through Drync?
2010 Gary Farrell Hallberg Pinot Noir for $51.32 (before 20% off, compare at $49+ and not eligible for discounts plus shipping on Wine-Searcher). And the 2009 Merry Edwards Meredith Pinot Noir for $52.32 (before 20% off, compare at $65.99+ on Wine-Searcher).
These are some amazing deals on wines I've had a very hard time finding at a discount.
Will they fulfill?
I placed the order last Wednesday (December 4th). I received email confirmation that my order was being processed Friday (December 6th). They say orders are should be delivered within 2-14 days.
I ordered four relatively obscure low production wines that I'm sure no single retailer carries. So I'm very interesting to see how this order is processed and of course whether it is fulfilled (completely or at all). I'm optimistic but skeptical.
I really don't know how their system works, but if their availability and pricing is accurately reported by their retail partners, worst case I'll receive multiple shipments from each retailer who carries the wines that make up my order.
But if the listings were came virtual inventory that the retailers don't actually have, the retailers will find that the wholesaler either no longer has the wines, or no longer has them at the price they listed them at. If the wholesaler has the wines it would create an awkward fulfillment situation between Drync and their retailer partners. And I'm sure a costly order to cobbler together. Worst case, some of the wines won't be fulfilled and I'll be annoyed as a consumer that I spent time sleuthing around in their app purchasing wines that aren't actually for sale.
We shall see! I'll update my post with my findings but I wanted to get this out before their 20% off a mixed case with code "stockup" offer expires.
Pros and Cons
- Dead simple way to remember and purchase wines
- Label image recognition works well
- Some incredible deals if you look around (and they fulfill)
- They can ship to 42 states including Massachusetts
- iPhone only (Android coming soon)
- No web based ordering (also coming soon)
Areas for Improvement
- Shipping Policy page should list states they can't ship to straight away
Currently you discover whether they can ship to your state by entering your address
- Sorting by variety/region/price is difficult (or impossible?)
Easy to find specific wines, but hard to search on criteria
Wine.com seems to have this figured out
- Speed of fulfillment (it's a bit of a waiting game to see if you'll get your wine)
I think Drync is an intriguing service and it shows an impressive amount of polish and potential. For it's intended use model - making it easy for "regular" people to buy wines they love - I think it's terrific.
For wine enthusiast deal hound types like myself I think it offers some intrigue. I'm bought into CellarTracker for keeping track of my collection and recording/comparing tasting notes. If I kept track of my cellar in Drync it would be very easy to re-purchase wines I've enjoyed. How cool would it be if Drync alerted me that they've got a great deal on a wine I rated 93 points right now?
But as it stands right now I think it's worth downloading for casual wine drinkers. Then, next time you try a bottle you love snap a picture and see how much they're offering it for. For the deal hounds among us I think it's definitely worth exploring for great prices on some of your favorites - especially with their 20% offer going on.
Download the Drync iPhone app
Poke around and see if they have any of the wines you've been looking for. Give the label image recognition feature a try.
Through December 9th, 2013 they're offering free shipping and 20% off 12 mixed bottles with code "stockup".
For smaller orders Wellesley Wine Press readers can get free shipping on any sized order through the end of January 31st 2014 with "WWPFree".
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
My order was partially fulfilled. Although I'm disappointed that some of the wines they listed for sale ended up not being available I'm happy I got some of them. Drync was able to successfully locate a couple of wines that Wine-Searcher was unable to find in my state - and Drync had them at great prices (thanks in part to 20% off).
I'm really pleased with the "human" way they presented the substitution options and will still honor the free shipping and 20% off even though I'll only be getting 6 bottles.
Another thing I forgot to mention earlier. Since we don't have insight into the retailers fulfilling these orders there is a provenance concern. This is the case with any wine buying situation where you're dealing with a marketing agent but it's worth mentioning.
Here's the email I received...
Thank you for your Drync order!Question of the Day: What do you think of the Drync app?
I am writing to confirm that we have procured the Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella 2007.
We have also sourced the Merry Edwards Pinot Noir "Meredith Estate," but the available vintage has changed. The current vintage is 2010. It is a weighty pinot with ultra-ripe dark cherry, raspberry, plum and loganberry with floral undertones, comparitive in style to the 2009.
The Gary Farrell "Hallberg Vineyard" Pinot Noir 2011 is not currently available in the Massachusetts market. However, we are able to obtain the Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2010. The cost for this wine is $44.80 per bottle and we will adjust your accordingly if you choose to purchase it.
Unfortunately, the 2005 Castano Yecla Casa Cisca is a discontinued item in this market and no longer available. We really hunted for this one, but it is simply no longer available and we have updated our record accordingly. We would be happy to offer you a recommendation of a wine similar in style and price, if you are interested.
Please let us know how you would like to proceed. Be assured that if you would like to remove any of these wine from your order, we will honor your free shipping and 20% off of all the other wines in your order.
We would also like to offer you a $10 discount on your next order. (promo code redacted)
Thank you for using Drync! Please contact us if you have any questions.
All the best,