Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites and best practices to sell more wine online.
As a consumer, I buy a lot online. I buy a lot of wine and I buy a lot of other goods. I enjoy going through websites not on the Vin65 platform and testing out their shopping experience. Even when the site has a terrible experience, I'll often wade through the hassle (and some sites make purchasing a huge hassle).
In the last couple of weeks, I've stopped just short of making a few purchases. The marketing email I received was enticing, but after clicking through to the website, the site failed to deliver.
This holiday season, if I come to your site, and I fail to purchase - here are a few reasons you may have lost me as a customer:
1. I won't buy because your site is non-functional or broken.
Make sure the links in the email work. Make sure the 'add to cart' works. If there is an error, show me a friendly error screen, don't show me a server error.
As an aside, this past week I was on a couple of websites with raw server errors - those are a major security risk. Ask your vendor to fix them or get a new vendor.
2) I won't buy because your site is painfully slow.
Speed sells. I don't want to wait and wait and wait for content to load. On one winery's site I had to wait 5-8 seconds for a page to load. It was a big turn off and was the reason I left the site. I intended to come back later to see if speed improved, but I didn't. Your customers will probably act the same way. Most vendors know that holiday traffic is heavier than regular traffic. People have less patience during the holidays - make your site faster.
3) I won't buy because your site looks ugly.
Maybe I'm shallow. Websites where everything is misaligned, ugly, from the stone age or has major browser compatibility issues typically indicate that the order, if placed, isn’t going to go well. People make snap judgments about who you are (often unconsciously) based on how your site looks. Make sure your website looks great.
I realize there are a lot of factors that stop customers from making a purchase (just peruse through our blog for more examples). I purposely called out these three issues because I experienced them all this week and they drove me away from purchasing wine.
During the holiday season, we often recommend that customers don't make large changes to their site. It's a busy time and you don't want to confuse customers. However, if your site has one or more of the problems above, I'd consider fixing it - especially if you want your customers to complete their purchase this holiday season.
This past summer, like summers before, our staff took a holiday together to the Okanagan Wine Region. We rented a van, had a designated driver, and toured a number of wineries before ending up at a house boat on the Shuswap.
Here's the thing. I know I bought a couple of cases of wine on the trip. I know I tasted some great wine. I know I had some great experiences in several tasting rooms. But now, three months later, not only can I not remember the specific wines I tasted, I can’t even remember all the tasting rooms I visited. I'm sure several tasting rooms handed me a paper sheet on the flight of wines I tried, but those are long gone too.
Tasting rooms are a great place for a winery to engage a visitor - but if you want to create a relationship with someone from out of town, you have to continue to reach out to visitors beyond the tasting room.
'Shameless Vin65 plug coming...'
Today we launched our Tasting Room iPad Application. iPads are fun... infectious in fact. So what if I pick up an iPad in the Tasting Room? What if I entered my email address, and as I tasted a flight of wine went through and rated each wine? I even "favorite" a couple. Afterwards, when I get home, I receive an email thanking me for my visit and reminding me of the wine I liked.
There are a lot of ways to engage the out of town visitor after you have their email address and some knowledge of the wines they like. From a simple email thanking them for their visit, to an email "Remember the wine you marked as 5 star - we have it on sale", are both great customer service and sales strategies.
The iPad isn't a replacement for tasting room staff (technology will never replace the personal experience), but it is a tool to assist in building the valuable relationship with your customers to increase your profits.
You can read more about what we are doing here and here. You can check out what another Napa entrepreneur, Winergy Inc is doing here. (Great minds think alike). Our iPad application is available today whether you're a Vin65 client, IBG eCommerce client, or a winery or wine retailer on another platform.
If you have a chance, we would love to know your thoughts on the iPad in the tasting room. Leave a comment below or send me an email.
One of the first steps in building a website is looking at the functional requirements. Not all of these features are required for every winery, but here is my quick top 10 list of features a general winery website needs to make it successful.
10. Mobile Version
5% of today's traffic is mobile. This is growing more and more. We are starting to have great web experiences on mobile smart phones (including the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry Torch, and now the WP7 phones). Example: Cuvaison (click link from an iPhone or Android device).
9. Store Locator
Not everyone wants to pay the high shipping costs and wait for your wine. Let your customers find which local retailers stock your product. (I know the data can be hard to come by, but others are doing it). Example: Wines That Rock - check out the google maps.
8. Calendar/List of Events
Visitors love seeing what is happening at your winery. Add a calendar or a list of upcoming events. Make sure the calendar is up to date - or better yet, work with a website system that provides a true calendar that won't show stale information. Example: Pithy Wine.
7. Social Media
Social media is no longer a fad. 500 million users on FaceBook makes it main stream. Include social media links on all of your products (At a minimum FaceBook and Twitter). Allow customers to share via email as well. Example Ceja Vineyards.
6. Newsletter Signup
Allow visitors to be informed. Make it easy to sign up for your newsletter. Also make it easy to unsubscribe. Example: Long Meadow Ranch.
5. Product Detail Pages
People buy what they know. Allow customers to explore your product. Show detailed tasting notes, product awards, magazine reviews, large images, video and other media. Example: Inman Family Wine.
4. Product Reviews
Product reviews increase sales by establishing credibility. Allow customers to freely write what they think about your wine. Keep your site authentic and allow negative comments. Encourage users to write reviews (it's a lot easier for people to write the second or third review on a product rather than being the first). Example: Twisted Oak.
3. Smooth Checkout Process
If I was standing in line at your tasting room register, then walked away because I had a bad experience, I'm pretty sure you would want to correct that experience both for your customer and for your bottom line. Make the online checkout process smooth: don't force a person to register to checkout, provide security assurances, accurate shipping prices and easy to use forms.
2. Address & Contact Details
Yes, I saw a winery website this week with no contact information on it. If you wonder why people aren't contacting you from your website... ensure you have contact information. In fact, learn from professional marketers like Wine Tasting and put your phone number in the header of your website so people see it on every page. Example: Wine Tasting Network.
1. Google Analytics- with Ecommerce and Goals setup.
It's pretty simple - you can't make good decisions without having good monitoring tools in place. Know how many people are coming to your site? where they are coming from? what they are doing when they get there? Google analytics is free, it's easy to setup, and it's easy to use. This tool will expose your site’s strengths and weaknesses; use it to help guide your design to drive people to the pages you want.
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