Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How We Built It: Mikey Studer of hometipple

Mikey Studer, director of hometipple talks to us about the growth of the specialist drinks retailer

  • Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand

hometipple is your local, independent, specialist drinks retailer… but online, delivering throughout the UK.

We have a deliberately limited selection, lovingly and painstakingly handpicked, with every product fulfilling two essential criteria: Is it delicious? Is it excellent value for money?

Everything we list has been through a rigorous selection process whereby sometimes only 10% of what we try in a tasting session makes the cut. 

Listing over 300 individual products, we work with independent, boutique and often less well-known brands and producers who would rather spend their profits on maintaining and improving quality than on marketing, branding or advertising.

  • What inspired you to set up your company?

Having been previously employed by an online retailer, I couldn’t think of another type of business that would allow me to work within both the wine and spirits worlds. These are markedly different and having worked in both, I knew that choosing one at the expense of the other would never truly fulfil me.

In addition, we saw a critical gap in the market for an online proposition run by experts passionate about educating and informing their customers. 

I would say most retailers only ever actually taste about 30-40% of the products they sell. How are you supposed to recommend something when all you’ve done is taken an educated guess at how it tastes, based on the label and price? 

Every product hometipple lists has been thoroughly appraised. The tasting note we include on every product’s website listing is an amalgamation of two or three separate tasting notes, written individually by members of the hometipple team. These are completely uncompromising and often brutally honest. If we don’t love it, we don’t list it. It’s that simple.

  • What was your biggest challenge in year one?

The website! We had an horrendous experience with our original web developers. The project ended up being a litany of crimes against how to build a properly functioning website and there’s pieces of code we’re still unpicking, several months of hard development work later.

Needless to say, we learnt a MASSIVE amount during that process and had to burn through a couple more developers before hometipple finally found the wonderful Damir – our WordPress saviour!

  • What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

hometipple’s recent rebrand has been really successful. Our bounce rate has improved significantly, and our conversion rate is getting better all the time. 

We always had the products and the stories to tell about them, we’ve just significantly improved how we tell those stories and how we present those products. 

All credit to Brian and the team at Complete Digital. They’ve been mega.

  • What has been the biggest mistake you made?

Ha! Where do I start?! Despite our experience in previous roles, our knowledge of actually running a retail website was limited, to say the least. You have to rely really heavily on the right agencies and consultants when you start out; finding those worth working with is the tricky bit. Let’s just say, hometipple had to kiss a lot of frogs…

That being said, I’m not sure the failed working relationships with those agencies and consultants were “mistakes”, as such – we went into those partnerships in good faith, on the promise of competent expertise in the required areas.  The fact the competence and expertise weren’t good enough means in hindsight working with them was a mistake, but how were we to know at the time? The important thing is we gained invaluable experience along the way and have finally found partners we can trust and rely on. 

Would we have found the right partners had we not gone through that rather painful process? Maybe not. 

  • Tell us about your plans for the future

hometipple is in a fairly careful build phase at the moment, gradually and sustainably growing our offering and market share, bit by bit. Natasha, our ace PR Manager, continues to increase our visibility through the media, our PPC campaign is going from strength to strength and our social channels keep attracting followers organically. 

Sometime around Q2 in 2023 we’re planning a round of Series A investment. It’s after this point we expect to really kick on and start ruffling a few competitors’ feathers in a much more significant way. 

hometipple is here to upset the applecart and show consumers what they’re missing out on.

Safe, competently made, boring drinks from the established big names are fine if that’s what you’re after, but if you want something really good, then hometipple’s here for you.

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