A better shopping experience and less flipping: The SMWS releases 4-step action plan

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS Action Plan Flipping Shop Experience)

Recently, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society invited their members to participate in a comprehensive online survey. The aim was to identify issues and conditions that needed improvement. This weekend, the Society released a 4-step action plan based on the survey results. It addresses the following points: introducing ballots for highly popular bottles; upgrading the online shop to guarantee a better user experience; raising the volume and enhancing the balance of festival bottles; taking more vigorous measures against flippers. Personally, I find all four points very gratifying and am looking forward to see them implemented in the future. They will help to further promote the feeling of togetherness within The SMWS and give certain areas, which were often criticized in the past, a much-needed touch-up. For more info on the 4-step action plan, check out the text of the original e-mail below.

by Tobi


From the member results, there are four clear actions that came from the responses – we have placed these at the heart of our plans for the future. These are identified below, and we have summarised the next steps towards meeting your expectations.

Initially, we had looked for feedback on the future of our festival releases, but it’s become apparent that you’d like to see these changes rolled out for all bottles that we know will be high in demand. We’ve taken this into consideration when developing this plan.

1. For bottles that we know will be high in demand or have a low availability, you believe a ballot system to be the fairest approach with all members being able to enter.

We have two new distilleries coming on-board in the next couple of months, we will make sure these go on sale with a ballot and look to do the same with other bottles we know will be in high demand. Cask No. 144.1 will be released on Thursday, 16 July so keep an eye out later this week for details on how to enter.

At the moment, our ballot system doesn’t allow for pre-payments to be taken in advance. We have explored options to integrate this, but we can’t find a solution for our current website. We will look to launch this along with the new website later in the year. From the feedback, the majority of you believe all members should be able to enter these ballots without being penalised for winning in a previous ballot. We will continue with this for the moment and look to review again when we launch the new website.

2. You want a better system that gives members an improved online experience with bottles secured within your basket.

We know that the system we have in place now simply isn’t good enough and work is well underway to invest in a new site. We should be able to launch this so 2021 is a greatly improved experience. Since we’ve gone out to members to ask for feedback, we’ve been working on implementing a new queuing system which we will use for in-demand bottlings. By applying this new system, it allows us to reinstate a basket timer, meaning bottles will be secured for up to 15 minutes.

The new queuing system and basket timer will be put to the test next month, with some exciting releases planned.

3. There needs to be a better balance of stock availability for festival bottlings.

Understood, and without spoiling plans for next year, we are working towards higher volume bottling options for next year. In addition to this, we are looking to introduce full cask allocations across our global branches so that more bottles aren’t split amongst members and we make more bottles available.

4. You want us to do more to avoid members ‘flipping’ bottles on auction sites.

We fully appreciate how frustrating it is to see a bottle that could be opened and enjoyed, appearing on auction houses straight after release – we feel exactly the same way. With this in mind, we have already taken steps to avoid this happening, sadly having to cancel some memberships due to open flipping.

Now rest assured, we don’t want to create any divide amongst members, but this simply isn’t in the spirit of the Society and we want to do as much as possible to stop this.

We’re now investigating packaging options as a deterrent – this may mean numbering bottles and allocating the number to the member’s details or other means which will add to the deterrent or tracking.

Follow our progress

We know the importance of delivering this plan and keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening. We will also continuously review other options and explore additional ideas to help us improve. Follow the progress and get regular updates over on our blog, and we’ll make sure to include any news within our weekly emails.

Thanks again for your contribution to helping us address these issues, your time and input is very much appreciated. Stay safe and well.


David Ridley – MD and Chief Member Champion

The SMWS @ Web: https://www.smws.com/
The SMWS @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesmwsuk/

One comment

  1. I’m not an SMWS member and the low availability of bottles is one of the reasons. Think that GDPR might stop the tracking of bottles. Perhaps the simpler way is to put the name of the purchaser on the label. That means they aren’t storing data, and can easily see who is buying bottles to sell on later. Repeat offenders should be prevented from buying bottles.

    Liked by 1 person

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