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.
Whether you’re ready for it or not, October, November and December (OND) is rapidly approaching. It’s a good time for wineries to start planning and executing marketing campaigns on their websites.
Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the holiday shopping season for millions of shoppers online. Here are 5 great ways to get your website ready for the holidays:
Statistically, I’m not the only consumer out there that puts off Christmas shopping until the last minute and with online purchases consumers need to be reminded of shipping times so the present makes it under the tree by Christmas morning.
If I buy wine from you will it make it to my house for Christmas, New Years, or later?
Offer a clear/simple shipping calendar throughout your website to make it easy for consumers (like me) to know if we’re going to make the deadline. There are some key areas on your site to place the calendar such as the header in the product list page and detail pages, as well as the cart and the checkout screens.
The example above from American Eagle quickly shows key dates to order before to get that gift under the tree by the 24th.
I’ve been both the giver and recipient of gifts that have arrived late and neither are fun. Work with your shipper to make a calendar that's simple so your consumers know the cut off dates.
It’s all about giving gifts during the holiday season and you want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to pick out something from your store. Your purchasers might be buying for their parents, a co-worker, or a friend, and might not know their taste in wine, so it’s your job to make it easy for them.
Use tools like product badges/callouts (like the one below), highlighting consumer ratings and reviews, or create pre-made packages to remove the guessing from the purchase.
Amazon does this really well, shown in the image below, by suggesting different categories or gift ideas for each type of person you’ll be buying for.
During the holidays consumers expect to see some type of sale and this is especially true on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you don’t offer a sale it is like telling your customers to go buy somewhere else.
Some examples of successful promotions are shipping discounts, or volume incentives. At this point, consumers expect free shipping for orders over $100 (technically ‘shipping included’ in the wine industry).
Start emailing your consumers early to let them know when the promotions will be running and give them something to anticipate on your site. We see some bigger ecommerce sites sending holiday emails for promotions but not letting the consumer know that the actual promo will not be in effect until a specific day. This gives them something to look forward to and a reason to visit the website rather than reading and discarding the email.
Create your emails and offers ahead of time and schedule to send them at specific times. Think about the key days your winery should be ready for (don’t leave it to the day before Black Friday). Below is a breakdown of the months leading up to the holidays with key dates and great ideas for email blasts:
Don’t take yourself, or your website, so seriously. Have fun with the holiday on your website and emails. Throw in a Santa hat, elf, reindeer, etc. somewhere on your site or add in a snowflake or two. This shows that your company has personality and that your website actually gets updated (so it’s not the same website all year round).
Both Target and Amazon add holiday imagery to their sites and logos every year. Below is an example of Bath & Body Works' website during the Christmas season which shows holiday imagery throughout the site.
If you've tried any other holiday tricks or campaigns, or if you've seen a great example let us know how they've worked.
At Vin65 we see a lot of data from transactions, we’ve done a lot of experiments and we’ve seen some interesting results. For example:
We’ve focused on analytics, A/B tests, and we look at BI tools to track data and improve tools and while this data is good, we don’t believe this it is good enough.
Today we are starting a whole new class of experiments are excited about learning a lot in completely different ways. Rather than looking at just the data, we’re going to start experiments with conversations consumers with each other and wineries.
I wish I could say linking a consumer’s social and ecommerce profiles together results in ‘X’ – but we are just in the beginning phase. Let me tell you what I believe and what we experimenting with.
Knowing and understanding your consumers and acting on that data is what creates exceptional companies and I believe that the best way to know your customer is to have conversations with them. Knowing the POS and ecommerce data is not enough. Just like peanut butter and jelly, I believe that ecommerce data combined with social data is a perfect match.
Imagine knowing that club members that are Facebook fan last 5 months longer than those who are not fans. Would that change the way you promote you Facebook page and how you use Facebook’s tools? What if you were instantly notified if your that a few people Tweeting you were your top consumers were reaching out on Tweeter. Would you engage them in a conversation?
At Vin65 the primary goal of this blog is education (how to sell the most wine online) for our customers and the wine industry as a whole. We also don’t like to talk about tools we are building. I realize I hijacked it – but I did want to lay out a vision of a few things we see in the future.
At Vin65 we've partner with VinTank (the leading wine social media management company) and we’ve created a bi-direction integration linking social customers in VinTank with ecommerce customers in Vin65.
Inside VinTank - The next time someone is talking about you, the next time your looking at social conversations, you can see that persons lifetime value, club memberships, Vin65 contact type, etc.
Inside Vin65 - Your can use the list builder to segment on customers social, look at individual customers and see their social profile.
This is going to allow for a lot of great data meshing. I’m sure you, our customer, will drive a lot of what is to come.
I would invite you to watch a video and learn more about our bi-direction integration with Vintank or request a demo.
I’d also love to hear what you would like to see with the meshing of social and ecommerce data. What would help you sell more wine?
Whether it's picking up a loaf of bread or a silk scarf for Grandma, merchandisers think carefully about how you navigate in store and what will grab your attention. Merchandising has been effective for so long in retail, yet it hasn’t really come to a lot of winery websites. Just like going to a retail store, the way your online list page looks and flows is just as important.
On your winery website, how you merchandise ultimately makes for an easier, quicker and more pleasant shopping experience for your customers.
With so much choice available, retail merchandisers use call-outs as a way to grab attention in the aisles. The same attention-grabbing addition can be made on your winery website to make it easier for customers to see featured products.
Retail merchandisers use end aisles and alternate product displays to call attention to certain products. Consistency is great, but having alternative product layouts on the same page can capture attention and it works well to highlight particular products.
Have multiple tiers of wine? Show all your wines on one page, but group them into the tiers using colors, or alternate layout. Grouping products really draws attention to each tier of wine.
Modern clothing retailers (like Gap.com) have used Quick View as a way to expose product detail without a visitor leaving the actual shopping page. If you have a lot of wines on a page, and the customer is likely to navigate between several wines, a quick view feature allows your customers to see more product detail without leaving the list page.
Image 1 - Quick View rollover
Image 2 - Quick View feature
Wine is the perfect gift. If you're looking for a way to guide your customers through gifting wine, a custom gift set (such as the one suggested below) lets your customers easily customize a gift.
These small customization features (which are fast becoming standard in other industries) provide extra value to your customers and can help boost sales.
Remember, visitors to your site need to be wooed by a great, attention-grabbing user experience, that way they'll come back again.
Have you seen some great examples of merchandising on the web? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Whether it’s a TV show highlighting thrifty families using coupons, or an inbox full of retail store offers, consumers are becoming more "deal" conscious when selecting where they choose to shop. In a sea of conflicting prices and promotional offers what can help your offer rise and get noticed while others sink into the proverbial junk box? Let's take a look at 4 keys to an effective coupon or promo strategy for selling wine.
The way you word your promotion will not only affect how consumers read it but also how they react to it, whether they purchase or not. When wording your promotion here are a few points to consider:
Percentage or dollar off offers work well to generate interest for new shoppers. Club discounts that are automatic and easy to use can help promote brand loyalty and boost club memberships. However there is one promotion type that appeals to all consumers…free shipping. For our American winery clients you need to word your promotion as "Shipping Included" for legal reasons.
Here are a few compelling reasons why you should offer free shipping:
*Statistics provided by Freeshipping.org
Shipping is just one more cost that a consumer is mentally factoring in while they shop online. If you offer free shipping, it’s one less item you have to worry about. Customers are more likely to buy more, more often, when they don’t have to worry about additional costs.
Make sure your offer gets noticed. Prominent places such as homepage pods or sliders make your offer visible to anyone visiting your ecommerce store. To target newsletter signups, why not add a promotion code to an automatic confirmation email giving a discount off their first order? For those offering frequent promotions, why not consider creating a page dedicated to showcasing your current offers? This will help to keep deal seekers looking for coupon codes on your site, training them to visit your site rather than searching Google for the latest deals.
Whatever your offer, make sure you test its functionality before you release it. Finding a broken promotion is disappointing and frustrating to a consumer, and may be perceived as a "bait & switch" tactic. You should let consumers know how and where to use coupon codes, and where they will see the discounts appear. Then just make sure your promotion works as described.
Agree? Disagree? What promotions are working for you?
Developing the correct content strategy for your mobile site can be a bit confusing. It's still early in the game and we are seeing consultants offer different strategies on what content belongs on a mobile website.
Should you limit the content displayed on the mobile version of your website? How about the number of products? Should that be limited?
Originally, our team here at Vin65 thought the answer should be yes. Mobile phone screen sizes are small, the 3G data speeds are slower than regular broadband, and customers visiting your mobile site typically want to do something quickly, such as calling your winery or locating your winery.
Now that our mobile platform is more than a 1.5 years old, the above answer should be "no". Here's why.
1) Users need to see your content.
16-20% of emails are opened on a mobile device (source). A customer opens your email on a mobile device, they click a link - where does that take them? Hopefully to a mobile optimized version of a page. Unfortunately, more often than not, mobile websites are built as a "light" version of a brand's site and the mobile content is an after-thought - and the email link doesn't work.
More than 350 million Facebook users access Facebook through their mobile device (source). People "like" and share your content all the time. Similar to the email scenario, users on mobile devices need to be able to click links and see the mobile version of that content. Unlike the email scenario, you can't control the links people are sharing and if you only have a "light" version of your mobile site, the shared links won't work.
2) Mobile is not a second class citizen.
The problem with limiting content on your mobile site is you now have two sites to manage. Every time you add a page to your regular site, you have to decide if you should add it to your mobile site. It's extra work, and you often forget or neglect the content on the mobile site. (Our first version of our mobile had two sets of page content and wineries constantly let the mobile site go stale).
We recommend that all of your content, all of your products, everything on your primary website should also exist on your mobile site. Every URL on your primary site has to work from a mobile phone (you don't control what other people are sending out, linking to, etc). You create a page, you add a product, etc - it should just work on your mobile site. This way, if a customer on a mobile phone views an email, reads Facebook, clicks on a tweet, all of the links, pages, etc. will just work.
We also recommend that the navigation on your mobile site be different than your primary website. People who come directly to your mobile phone do so with purpose - primarily to call, get your address, or look up a product. Screen size on a mobile phone is limited, and you want to promote the content that people are most likely to be seeking on their mobile phone.
Do you have a mobile optimized website? How do you decide what content to display?
There is no doubt that smart phones are changing the way we live. It's no surprise that major retailers have integrated mobile as part of their overall marketing strategy. But what about mobile for wineries? Is it important to have a mobile presence? How can this channel drive overall traffic and revenue? We believe that it is important and can drive traffic and revenue, here are three reasons why.
According to StatsCounter, mobile traffic in North America is around 7.25% of all web traffic. It was only 1% three years ago. (source)
On our platform, which is specific to wineries, we are seeing over 10% of the traffic from mobile phones with several wineries in the 15-18% range. (If you want assistance calculating your percentage, it's really easy to do if you have Google Analytics installed - just ask us)
You only have to surf your regular website on a mobile phone to figure out it's probably not going to cut it. Flash photo galleries won't display on the iPhone and the performance is terrible on Android phones. You have to pinch and zoom to read the content. Adding something to your cart is next to impossible. It takes forever to load pages. The whole customer experience is terrible.
In general, 50% of mobile phone owners are using their device to shop online or to assist while shopping in stores (source).
On our wine-ecommerce platform, we are seeing wine sales on mobile devices (however these sales do lag behind their respective traffic - for example if 10% of your traffic is on mobile, less than 10% of your ecommerce sales will be from mobile).
We are seeing consumers viewing emails on their mobile phones (16% of them) or using Twitter or Facebook apps on their mobile phones. From these emails or from these apps, they click links to wines, and then view and purchase these wines on their mobile devices.
As a winery, it's pretty easy to get a mobile website. Most of the major wine ecommerce platforms now offer a mobile solution and independent designers have more tools than ever to assist in building a mobile website. Most of the solutions are relatively cost effective and fairly easy to implement. It's a great opportunity to improve your customers experience and it's early enough that you can experiment a little before a mobile site is expected.
If you’re like most internet users, you start your day by checking Facebook and you probably check again at the end of the day. If you’re like our employees, you’re probably also checking Facebook at work. There are over 800 million active users on Facebook, and Facebook accounts for 1 in 5 pages accessed on the internet.
So Facebook has a large audience, but will this audience buy wine? Here's 5 reasons I think they will.
1. Facebook already drives ecommerce traffic to your website.
There is some debate about whether Google or Facebook drives more traffic to a website, but it’s clear they are both key traffic sources. Facebook is the number one or number two driver of traffic to your ecommerce site. (Source / Source).
2. Facebook customers are good customers.
American Eagle found Facebook-referred visitors spend an average of 57% more money than non-Facebook-referred visitors. GiantNerd.com saw a 100% increase in revenue from Facebook within two weeks of adding the like button. There are several other Commerce Stats here. (Source)
3. Facebook is where your customers hang out.
There are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. More than 50% of users log onto Facebook in any given day. (Source)
4. Facebook is already a viable retail platform.
According to Booz Allen, there are $5 billion in goods being sold on Facebook in 2011. In the alcohol market, Social Commerce Today has a great story about Magners Cider and closer to California, wineries such as Silver Smith Vineyards are already selling wine on Facebook. (Source / Source / Source)
5. Facebook commerce is growing.
According to the same graph in number 4 above, Facebook commerce will be a $30 billion industry in 2015. (Source)
At Vin65, we launched our Facebook Ecommerce App today. Show and sell your wine inside Facebook. Create custom Facebook fan pages. While there is a small setup fee, there is no additional monthly charge to our existing clients, and it’s fully integrated with our platform.
In developing this app, we stepped on the shoulders of other innovators including both Vintank Social Connect (Cruvee) and Social Candy who have developed great apps on Facebook.
While I might have some bias, I really believe that Facebook commerce is here. One of the key pieces for me in our Facebook Ecommerce App build was the addition of Google Analytics along with our reporting and dashboards. Like mobile and our iPad app, we’ll be watching closely as Facebook traffic grows and our Facebook ecommerce app evolves.
Check out some live examples and let us know what you think.
Demo Store: http://www.facebook.com/PineWines
Ceja Vineyards: http://www.facebook.com/CejaVineyards
Twisted Oak: http://www.facebook.com/twistedoak
In your tasting room consumers can stroll up to the tasting bar, speak to enthusiastic staff and then sniff, swirl and sip your wine. It’s not that easy to excite consumers on your wine e-commerce website. You need to find ways to engage and convert consumers with content, images, tasting notes, consumer and professional reviews.
It’s been proven that videos can help e-commerce. Over the past few years, Zappos.com has said their videos have impacted sales on their products anywhere from 6 to 30 percent.
While Zappos.com is an e-commerce giant, Ceja Vineyards is a perfect example of a midsized winery producing well-executed product video at a minimal cost.
You may not need to make a video for the branded clothing you’re selling online, or the tickets to a concert but videos are a perfect medium for your tasting staff or wine maker to convey their passion for each wine that consumers are sampling in your tasting room.
“Video might be overkill for some pitches and products, and become more of a distraction than an incentive to convert,” said Stefan Tornquist, research director for MarketingSherpa. “For something complex, visceral, or new, video can be a great fit. Selling fly fishing in the Arctic? Video is going to do a better job of putting the prospect in a buying frame of mind than all the copy you can muster.”
Ceja Vineyards uses YouTube but there are many solutions for hosting your videos with different benefits, Facebook for example would be a great fit if you’re using Facebook fan pages and help cross promote by linking to your fan page and website.
Vimeo does not allow for commercial videos, instead you could use Viddler’s ‘b2b’ hosting.
If you’re looking for a more professional video solution that feautures product overlay, enabling the consumer to purchase right form the video, you could look at a company like Overlay.tv. Your winemaker could lead a tasting of your wine portfolio and consumers can purchase wines featured by clicking on a hotspot in the video, converting them while they're excited and ready to buy (See an Armani Exchange example).
|Here’s another example from Inman Family Wine, as Kathleen explains her wine in a way words on a webpage simply can’t:|
If you haven't tried videos, I recommend talking to a few wineries that have such as Ceja or Inman. Start small, a simple Flip camera is only around $150 then use YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo to place the video on your e-commerce site and measure your results.
I was at Unified last week and I overheard a couple of people talking about ecommerce and one person asked another if they could really improve their conversion rate. (I didn't butt in, but I should have). I've written about how powerful a benchmark conversion rate is to a winery's ecommerce performance analytics.
What is conversion and conversion rate? Conversion is the process of taking online visitors and turning them into buyers. There are a number of ways conversion rate is calculated, but the two most common are: number of orders divided by the number of carts started (in which case conversion rates should be high) or it's calculated as the number of purchasers divided by the number of visitors (in which case the percentage will be a lot lower).
The number one objection to conversion optimization? "If a person really loves my wine will they not wade through our website and figure out how to buy it (no matter how bad the ecommerce experience is)?" Truthfully some of your best fans and your nicest relatives will but I won't. And lots of your customers won't. Why invite visitors to your wine ecommerce store after a great experience in the tasting room only to disappoint them with an aggravating ecommerce experience?
3 proven ways to increase conversion your conversion rate?
1) Remove the create account requirement at checkout. Unfortunately, we still see this all the time. (I saw it last week on a new Sonoma Wineries website - gorgeous website doing a lot of things right - but still asking for a password in the checkout). A visitor adds wine to their cart and then proceeds to the checkout. They want to give you their credit card - they don't want to create a unique username and password. Here's the proof that this is killing sales. (Link, link, or link)
2) Create a streamline checkout. A visitor adds wine to their cart - how fast can they check out? The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver proved that a one-screen streamlined checkout process will increase conversion.
3) Add consumer ratings and reviews to your wine? You're on Amazon.com. What sells better? A book with a great description and a review from the New York Times or a book with a great description, a review from the New York Times, and 10-30 regular customers sharing their personal thoughts on the book? Wine.com proved it in the wine industry. Having customers reviews on your site will sell more wine.
The right design and functionality will increase your conversion rate.
Below are the slides of my 15-20 minute presentation at Unified Wine & Grape Symposium on "Making Your Direct-To-Consumer" work.
It was great to be a panellist along with Quinton Jay (Bacchus Capital), Stacie Jacob (Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance), and Ray Johnson (Sonoma State University). I also want to thank Jeff Stai for organizing everything, moderating the panel, and inspiring me the night before to make my presentation better.
My particular segment was on customer conversion - something I'm fairly passionate about. Enjoy.
I believe the audio version of the presentation will be available for sale here soon. http://www.unifiedsymposium.org/audio.html
Feel free to post your questions or comments below (or send an email directly to me)
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