Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites, POS systems, and best practices to sell more wine.
Today, our parent company launched WineDirect Compliance. Our CEO, Joe Waechter, has a blog post here explaining why we built a compliance tool, and the thought process behind it.
As the COO of WineDirect and President of Vin65, I got to sit in a lot of the compliance meetings - here’s our thought process:
For years compliance has been difficult. While there are a lot of rules and red tape – we want to tell you that it shouldn’t be that hard.
We look at compliance like we look at credit card processing. It’s an important piece of the business, with some complexity under the hood, but it's largely in the background. You have to get compliance right, but it should really stay out of your way. You should spend your day figuring out how to sell more wine – not the ins and outs of compliance. Like credit card processing – you should setup compliance and largely forget about it. It should just work.
We wanted our compliance tool to be simple. Everyday you login to your POS, you login to your ecommerce system - we didn’t want you to have to login to compliance everyday (even with single sign-on). We want you to focus on selling wine instead of looking at compliance.
The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t a place to manage weather holds. Progressive wineries should do that in their ecommerce. Others will do that at fulfillment. The WineDirect Compliance tool doesn’t email you every day with package exceptions – that’s what fulfillment is for. The compliance tool isn’t where you should manage your fulfillment – your fulfillment provider has the data and they should have the tools. The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t where you do benchmarking – you should have BI tools for that. The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t for editing orders – that’s your order management system's job. Compliance should simply handle orders, calculate taxes, check compliance, and run reports.
At WineDirect, we want to make compliance simple. It should be something you setup – and then forget. You enter the rules, your orders follow those rules, and at the end of the month you generate some reports. While you can login anytime, it shouldn’t be something you visit daily.
If we look at our new WineDirect Compliance tool – there isn’t much to it. There’s great product integration – you setup your product in Vin65 and it’s automatically added to WineDirect Compliance. Your orders automatically flow to WineDirect Compliance - with the county level taxes. It has a one click setup if you’re on Vin65 - so everything is preconfigured and ready to go. You review some rules, perhaps change or suppress some rules, and then that’s it. You don’t get a daily email – you get one a week. You have a little dashboard with some reminders of reports due. At the end of the month you simply print some reports and others you can electronically file.
WineDirect Compliance is simple for you, but truthfully, there’s a lot to WineDirect Compliance. It has a ton of rules in the background, we’ve simulated it against a massive load (our entire traffic volume in October, November, December). We spent a lot of time validating everything, it has been carefully scrutinized by an attorney, we have hundreds of hours in testing, and there's a team of people behind it to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. But from your point of view – there's nothing to it. Just like credit card processing. It either accepts orders, or pushes them back to you to modify and try again or simply not take the order.
Today WineDirect launches compliance. If you’re a Vin65 customer, it’s one click for us to set you up. There’s a free trial until September. There’s a “dual mode” if you want to run it alongside your existing compliance system. If you currently use Compli, we’ve partnered with them so they will use our real time compliance checks with the compliance they do for you (no need to switch vendors). For more information click here.
A few months ago Andrew, Brent, and I went up to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards to test our POS system first hand, with real customers. This was an awesome learning experience, we loved what we built, but knew we could go further. We needed to continue breaking the barrier between you and the customer, getting you out from behind the counter.
The traditional POS is restrictive and bulky, comparable to the gym strip you wore in high school. The iPad POS or iPhone POS we like to think is more like yoga pants, they adapt, are flexible, they’re sexy.
A smart phone POS system is the perfect device for a winery’s tasting room setup. It doesn't depend on wifi and can be used either behind the tasting bar, or anywhere you interact with your customers. The wine industry is especially perfect for a mobile POS as wineries often have off site tastings, outdoor concerts, and events.
Get out from behind the counter, break the barrier, our iPad and iPhone POS help you achieve that.
Help your staff develop relationships between them and the customers, let the technology be secondary to the transaction. Going mobile enables them to interact, and use something they are already familiar with. This allows them to be more productive throughout their day and in turn sell more wine.
Empower your staff with a fresh and exciting technology, let them enjoy the devices they are using. Push aside the High school gym strip and give them some fresh new Yoga pants.
Adding a new iPhone POS device to your roster is about as easy as getting Angry Birds, just download it from the app store, and log in.
If you don’t own an iPhone the great thing is, iPods are inexpensive, portable, and lightweight.
The iPods run any application that your iPhone runs, they work perfectly on wi-fi networks.
Having a few of these around your tasting room takes up little to no space and more importantly allows your employees to walk around with them, liberating your staff from fixed stops so they can meet customers anywhere.
Break the barrier between you and your customer, focus on what your customer wants, and free up time for that interaction not the transaction.
Are you interested in adding the Vin65 iPhone POS into your tool-kit? Get more information here.
If you haven't heard the news... WineDirect has acquired Vin65.
There is a lot of emotion when making a decision like this - and the decision certainly wasn't easy. Here is a look at why I sold and how it might affect you.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say money played a large role. The financial incentive was attractive. Having said that there is a lot I like about the current WineDirect team and I'm going to give 100% there. Yes, there have been some issues in the past with WineDirect, but the last couple of years the new management (under Joe Waechter's direction) has done a good job of turning that around.
I've spent a lot of time with Joe Waechter. From regular phone calls to having him as guest speaker at our employee retreat, his experience growing DHL and other companies has been instrumental in guiding me the last couple of years as Vin65 experienced some large growth.
Some may question why WineDirect and Vin65 should be together (and Vin65 will continue to work with all of the wine fulfillment houses). Joe and I both see a future in Direct-to-Consumer wine sales. We argue about some of it, but we both agree that DTC is growing in importance and we have the same vision for the future.
I’m excited about DTC and that is a large part of this deal.
If you’re a Vin65 customer, it doesn't really affect you immediately. WineDirect is committed to letting Vin65 operate independently. It’s like Amazon and Zappos or like WineDirect and Call For Wine today. I’ll continue to be the President of Vin65 and I am keeping our core values.
Over time there will be changes. Vin65 started off with a handful of winery clients. We've acquired some enterprise clients, we took on the licensing of the IBG (now WineDirect) customers, and a lot of smaller wineries have signed up with Vin65. With each new staff member and each new client, Vin65 changes a little. Today with over 700 sites Vin65 is not the same company it was 4 years ago. In the future it’s going to continue to change.
I'm personally committed to fighting for our core values (and while WineDirect has some great values, I'll be pushing to keep ours). I'm personally committed to pushing the Vin65 platform further. The incremental change you see weekly on the platform will continue in the future. I'm excited about the long time staff I've had and I've worked hard to include them into the acquisition. I'm also excited about a lot of the new employees at Vin65 (the team is just awesome!). While I no longer get involved in every site that launches on our platform, I am committed to staying the course, to being innovative, and putting out a product that pushes DTC sales forward.
We have no major plans to change pricing, contracts, etc. All of our contracts are month to month and if we aren't servicing you correctly I'd ask that you personally contact me.
At Vin65 we have a great relationship with Copper Peak and we enjoy good relationships with WineShipping, Amedeo, Pack n Ship, Safe Haven, and other fulfillment houses. (Too many to mention here but we love you all). We also have great relationships with other wine vendors like Ship Compliant, Napa Valley POS, Oztera, KLH, Elypsis, and others.
We are going to work hard to maintain those relationships. Not every client is a great client for Wine Direct fulfillment, and we believe in choice. We are going to continue to work with other fulfillment companies (and we are hoping that PK still invites us to his house parties :) ).
I know that WineDirect fulfillment is going to continue to work with our competitors. There are no family exclusives here.
As for ecommerce, I've enjoyed the competition with eWinery, Nexternal and others. It's great to have competition in the space (and it makes for a better product for everyone). I know they will have a lot of comments about this acquisition. I hope that we continue to provide great competition for you.
I recognize that an acquisition like this brings questions. Feel free to comment below (commenting is wide open and will not be deleted unless they are spam or vulgar). Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my personal cell phone at 604.613.5343.
When consumers interact with your brand in any way, whether it be at the vineyard on a tour, in the tasting room, the vineyard restaurant, or in your retail store, you have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of customer service. These five points will challenge you to rethink how your customers perceive your brand and how you can improve your customer service.
Think about the experience your customers get when they purchase from you. What encourages them to keep coming back to your winery as opposed to trying the new winery next door? You might think it's the service, or the atmosphere, or the events that you hold. Perhaps it is, but do your customers know that they're appreciated? I suggest demonstrating this in the form of a promotion on your website, or an event geared as an appreciation night. Even the smallest initiatives can make the biggest differences in how your customers feel.
Think of the times you've been blown away by customer service. I can bet you that the underlying theme in most of those situations has been that the business has exceeded your expectations. When you throw in something extra and give more than what's expected, you leave your customers in awe. They're so excited by it that they'll remember your name, recommend you to their friends, and they'll keep coming back over, and over, and over. It can be something as simple as a coupon for a future discount with their purchase that you haven't advertised or maybe it's a sincere hand-written thank you note sent out to each club member for being such loyal customers. The question to ask yourself is, "what can I give my customers that they cannot get anywhere else?"
It's hard to think of a business I've called recently that doesn't have some sort of automated response - it's frustrating, isn't it? This doesn't just apply to phone calls. When someone enters your tasting room, the attendant should be personable, not an automated machine. Try to ensure that the tasting room attendant engages in conversation with your customers rather than just pour wine and swipe credit cards. As Andrew says, don’t forget the personal service. Learning your regular customer's first names and using them when you see them or talk to them on the phone will make them feel valued and important.
I once read a story of a man who needed an extra set of keys for his apartment and, on his way to work, stopped at the locksmith around the corner to have keys cut. After going back to his apartment to check the new keys, one didn't work. He returned to the locksmith where a new copy was made and when he returned home it still didn't work. Now being 30 minutes late for work, he returns to the locksmith for a third time in a place of rage, ready to unleash his anger on the locksmith. After looking at the key again the locksmith says "ah. It's my fault,"; and the man's anger evaporated. Taking the blame when appropriate can make the difference between inspiring a customer and bad publicity via word-of-mouth. Keep in mind that word-of-mouth spreads much faster than it used to with the use of social media.
Having mystery shops conducted on your winery is a great way to measure your quality assurance because it's cost effective, unbiased, targeted, and the data is current and relevant. Mystery shopping is assessed by finding Customer Service Opportunities (CSO) and each industry has different areas for their CSO. For example, McDonald's has monthly mystery shops that measure speed of service, food quality, restaurant cleanliness, order accuracy, and friendliness. The luxury hotel industry is very serious about this as well and even has a company that provides comprehensive benchmarking data from conducting audits. Companies such as In Short Direct Marketing, WISE Academy, and TexaCali Wine Co. provide mystery shopping for wineries and are worth taking a look at for the services they offer.
As we careen through 2011 and the influence of social media continues to grow, it is important to remember the potential reach that your brand has. By finding ways to impress and inspire your current customers, you not only retain their business, but you gain new customers when these inspired customers share the experience with their friends.
Now that you have new insight on how to improve customer service, what will you consider changing?
I was recently travelling with one of our sales reps and was intrique by the line of question that wineries asked us. A number of people fell into one of two camps:
Inward Facing: This type of person asked operational type questions about how the website could make their operations easier. Questions like: Does our platform integrate with their POS system? How can they get UPS shipping labels out of our platform? Almost all of the questions centered around the operations at the winery and how we could make it easier.
Outward Facing: This type of person asked sales type questions about how the website could sell more, how customers interact with it, and how they could go to market better or more efficiently with a website.
I'm not arguing against either of these camps. There is a need for both. I was just really intrigued by how some people really tended to lean one way. For myself, when I look at personality types, I typically like to know where I fit in so I can realize that other people think different than me.
So are you inward or outward?
We would like to welcome Brian Zacharias to the Vin|65 team this morning. (We'll get his picture up someday)
Brian joins are team in a programming and development role. For the first few months he will be working on some custom development projects. Brian has a Bachelor of Computer Information Systems and has a strong background in webservices, C#, and database development.
If you end up talking to him, seeing him in the office, or seeing him at the gym with us make sure you say hi.
As a small winery owner you are expected to do it all. You are running the big show. You are on the hook for the results.
Here is a shortened list of responsibilities:
As a web service provider we also like to add some, because if you have a web site you should also be doing these things:
My guess is that all the things that go into making the most of your web site and making your web site great fall between the cracks. Unless you are a larger winery who can afford to have a dedicated staff or multiple staff in the web department most of those web tasks simply don't get thought about, much less accomplished.
At Vin | 65 we are passionate about the web and making your sure your customers have a great experience buying your wine. We also bring a lot of experience and a great tool set to our customers so that they don't have to stress out about a lot of this stuff because it is built right in. We know our winery and wine retail customers are busy enough already. Let us be the web experts in your corner, so that you can focus on making amazing wine.
Want to know more about what we offer, how we can make your life easier, what the heck a blog is...contact us.
Have you used your own website? Try completing an order on your site. Try ordering multiple products. Where does the 'continue shopping' button take you? Can you figure out the shipping easily?
What are the most common questions customers ask? Try finding the answers from the homepage on your website - can you?
Have you tried emailing customer service from your website? How many clicks till you found the customer service email address? How long till someone responds?
Thinking about starting a new winery or a new brand? Make sure you own the domain name.
Do you have an existing winery or brand, make sure you own your domain name. (If a friend, a web developer, or someone else assisted you in purchasing the domain name, make sure the ownership of the domain is in your control)
Also, make sure that you don't let your domain name expire.
Sometimes these things might seem obvious but you would be suprised how many times they are forgotten until too late. (Even large software companies like Microsoft have let their domain names lapse a couple times).
If you need assistance in figuring out who owns your domain name, feel free to call our office. Alternatively you can generally figure out who owns a domain and when a domain is expiring by doing a whois search.
I don't know where I saw it, or if it just came to me, but I have a little note written on my to-do list this past week that says 'you win by caring'.
Picking up the phone, responding to an email, and in general just adding emotion often is all it takes to win. The biggest mistake is to believe that features and appearance matter the most.
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