Selo Reserva: A Modern Take on Wine Sales Online

Selo Reserva provides wine lovers and foodies with a sophisticated experience for purchasing local and international wine and haute gastronomie goods.

Launched mid-2012, the startup gives customers access to competitive flash sales through its online platform as well as premium content curated by world-renowned chefs and sommeliers. It is one of the companies currently being accelerated by 21212 in Rio de Janeiro.

Selo Reserva is the labor of a group of friends, two of which are chefs, who love food and wine. Often consulted by friends and acquaintances regarding wine pairings and selections for specific occasions, they realized they could turn their knowledge into a successful business and, thus, Selo Reserva was born. Not only do they aim to market and sell wines that are high in quality, but they also seek to promote products that deliver the most value in relation to their costs.

Since its launch, Selo Reserva has filled over 1,500 orders from its roughly 12,000 users, grossing US$275,000 in sales. Over half of its customers make repeat purchases.

We spoke with Cristiano Lanna, one of the co-founders of Selo Reserva, who now acts as the company’s Product and Logistics Manager. 

Emily Stewart: Selo Reserva combines elements of e-commerce and daily deals/flash sales. What is the dynamic between the two?

Cristiano Lanna: Indeed, Selo Reserva started with a flash sales concept. For a startup, having low warehouse costs was crucial. Traditional e-commerce is still a bit dull and doesn’t offer much more than the usual supermarket approach. Nevertheless, curation has always been our main value proposition rather than discounts and low prices.

We intend to taste and certify the quality of the wines we sell and then offer them at fair prices for both the customer and supplier/importer. The limited period of time one label is sold on the website is just a matter of trying to offer customers something new every day, different experiences that will enrich their knowledge of wine and provide more than pleasant drinking occasions.  

ES: What demographic are you targeting with this?

CL: It’s not a website for wine experts, nor it is for the complete dummies. Everyone who starts drinking wine goes for the “what’s cheap and available in my local supermarket” approach. Later, they start researching for better wines. Reasonable everyday wines aren’t enough anymore, but they’re also not into the exclusive, and therefore fairly expensive, labels. That’s where Selo Reserva shows up. It is a place for buying good wine that has already approved by the experts. A slightly younger and fresher approach is needed, rather than the old-fashioned, technical and pretentious style the vast majority of wine websites adopt. The point is making no fuss about wine, being direct and straightforward about the subject.  

ES: How do you go about the business of dealing with imported products?

CL: We don’t have a permanent portfolio, so there’s no obligation to always offer the same labels. We have some freedom to search for good deals and choose among products that are readily available. If an importer runs out of a certain label, we just choose another one that fits our proposal. Of course, exchange rates and politics influence our business heavily, but that’s inherent to the type of business. 

ES: There are a few “niche” food/beverage e-commerce platforms similar to yours on the market. Why do you think this is the right moment?

CL: Wine consumption in Brazil, which is still really low compared to developed countries, is growing steadily. What might seem like a niche nowadays will not be in a few years. We want to get in early in this developing market, aiming to be an important player when the market is fully developed. Even though it might look like there is a clear trend towards the “eating and drinking lifestyle,” these are activities which people will never stop engaging. Everyone needs to eat and drink. Alcohol consumption increases in both prosper and crisis times.  

Selo Reserva aspires to become the leading non-traditional wine marketplace online in Brazil, leaning on the 21212 team for assistance in scaling and garnering investments. The end goal: to be the place where consumers buy great, fair-priced wine online.