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Case Study: Soutirage – A Better Wine Experience

July 26, 2011

Soutirage, a Napa Valley wine business that uses the latest  Rightrail_Wine2 in Internet-based technology to inventory the thousands of bottles of fine wines in its warehouse, was still paying bills by hand until their new CFO found Bill.com. Today, paying Soutirage's electric bill is as easy as finding a bottle of 1990 Chateau Lafite Rothschild in the wine company's warehouse.

Soutirage – the French term for the refinement process in wine-making – was founded in 2007 by Chad Meyer, the son of a Napa Valley winery pioneer, and British native Matt Wilson, who had been a Manhattan wine consultant. The partners spent two years designing a business that helps wine aficionados around the world expand and maintain their collections. Soutirage wine experts evaluate clients' existing wine collections, oversee the design of new wine cellars and suggest and procure wine selections for everything from intimate parties to state dinners. The average bottle of wine sold by Soutirage in 2010 cost $200; prices can go over $10,000 for a rare vintage. 

CFO Neev Nissenson said that when he joined Soutirage in 2011, the founders were using NetSuite's financial software for accounting and inventory management. "But they were still doing accounts payable the way they had done them for many years: printing checks, putting them into envelopes and mailing them out. The time it took was excessive. A NetSuite partner company was supposed to add an automated bill paying function, so I spent two or three months calling them, but they never called me back," he said.                                 

The frustrated CFO looked around for an alternative and found Bill.com while searching on the Internet. "I saw that Bill.com was in beta phase of an integration with NetSuite, so I asked to participate," Nissenson said. "A Bill.com technician set us up, and it's worked seamlessly ever since. We use the Bill.com/NetSuite integration to pay about 100 bills each month from our non-wine vendors, including utilities and professional services providers. Some vendors have joined our e-payment network, which makes paying them even cheaper and safer. Bill.com will send them an ‘evite’ to accept payment via ACH, and when they accept, they’re always amazed with how much faster their payments go through."  

Nissenson also added as a Bill.com/NetSuite beta integration participant. "Bill.com's customer support has been outstanding," he said, “During the beta process, they took care of any problem immediately and they appreciate my feedback."

Bill.com saves the 11-person Soutirage staff time in other ways as well. Because all bills are now online, Soutirage supervisors can approve bills remotely, when they are working from home, or internationally scouting wine. And because Bill.com allows users to attach documentation to each bill, "If there's something I don't remember, I just click on the bill and all the information pops up, showing who approved it and when payment was made,” said Nissenson. “If a bill was synched into NetSuite, an icon appears and I can see full bill approval and payment details, so I immediately know the status.”

Soutirage continues to build a reputation as a sophisticated Soutirage_logolimit-pusher by leveraging technology to its greatest potential. Before the 2011 G8 Summit in May, French President Nicholas Sarkozy held a pre-summit for global media and technology leaders and invited 300 of them, including the founders of Facebook, Google and Amazon, to a private showing and wine tasting at the Louvre. After two weeks of negotiation, event organizers convinced the French museum staff to allow American wines to be served there for the first time, and commissioned Soutirage to choose and pour them wines. As an extra attraction, Soutirage put a Quick Response (QR) code on each bottle, so that as they sipped, the tech leaders could read tasting notes about each wine on their smartphones.

“With 11 people, we’re constantly looking for solutions that reduce unnecessary time waste. I have so much stuff to do! Rather than stuffing envelopes or licking stamps, I’m able to focus on making business decisions that determine the future of Soutirage. Bill.com has helped us maintain a very advanced, tech-savvy operation while dealing with very old, refined wines.”

Download the complete Case Study here.

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