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.
It's pretty easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We become engrossed in our own jobs and forget the big picture.
I was talking with a potential client this week who was really concerned with POS and accounting integration for their winery website. This integration seemed to be the focus of the entire call. This surprised me because their website had almost no sales.
Shouldn’t the focus be on sales first and accounting integration second? Shouldn’t we talk about strategies for getting more people to buy from their site rather than discussing how we get data to accounting? (As an aside, Vin65 has first class integrations with Microsoft RMS, Quickbooks, and has great webservices for other POS systems to connect to.)
Another prospective client spent over an hour combing through our wine club processing tools. They are a great winery, but their club has less than 200 members.
Rather than focusing on club processing, shouldn’t the focus be on club growth and how the website could attract more club members? Rather than review how quickly a wine club can be processed, shouldn’t we be talking about reducing club attrition, and incentives for people to sign up for the club? (As another aside, Vin65 does have great club processing tools.)
The primary goals for a website should be to increase sales, increasing club memberships, build better relationships with customers, deliver better customer service, and promote the brand story. POS integration, wine club processing, and other details are important, but don’t let them bog you down.
PS. I’m happy to discuss POS integration and club processing with anyone, but I would much rather talk about increasing checkout, reducing cart friction and promoting club growth and other primary goals first.
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.
Last December I wrote a post that the most important time in a customer relationship is the three months following their first purchase. I want to revisit that and state that the most important order is a customer’s second order.
A visitor walks into your tasting room, tries some of your wine, and places an order. They then leave your tasting room. Now what? How do you take this new customer and turn them into a repeat customer?
In preparation for this post, I ran some numbers. Here’s how important the second order is. We analyzed wine sales across our system and found:
Here are some more numbers from About.com
Getting a person to become a repeat purchaser is important, but how do you move them from a onetime customer to repeat purchaser?
One example might be to send an email thanking the customer for their first time purchase and have them rate the wine and their purchasing experience. For their efforts reward them with a coupon for a second purchase.
Whatever strategy you implement, remember to test and measure the results (and be sure to share them with us).
You’ve had a website for a number of years (at least I hope your winery has a website) and now you want to add an ecommerce store. Here are the key elements to creating a shoppable wine website:
Product Information: Ensure that you have great product pages with rich product information, the product price and the ability to add to cart. Make sure the shopper has everything they need to know about your wine. If your customers are asking the same questions about your wine and that information isn't included on your product page, respond by adding it. Go the extra mile to establish trust by including customer ratings and reviews and enable social sharing. (For more info read our post on The Anatomy of a Great Wine Page)
Professional Wine Bottle/Label Images: The images of your product often make or break the sale. People like to see pictures of the wine they buy. (While we don’t have hard numbers, we can definitely say products with images outsell products without images). Professional crisp images are far superior to pictures taken with a consumer grade digital camera and reflect positively on your brand.
Contact Information: Have your contact information everywhere. (We recommend including your phone number right on your website header like WineTasting.com). Build trust by having both contact us and customer service pages (customers like to know how to contact you if their is a problem with their product).
Frictionless Checkout Process: No online shopping experience is complete without a shopping cart and allowing customers to checkout easily. Build a frictionless checkout by reducing forms to only necessary information and enabling guests to checkout without registering. (For more info read our post on
Reducing Friction Points in Checkout)
Before you launch the ecommerce portion of your site, ensure you have all the necessary elements to make your customers feel comfortable. Inspire confidence and trust by providing all of the information they’ll be looking for without having to search for it. Try purchasing wine from your own site and ensure the experience is optimized.
P.S. One of my favorite "shoppable" wine sites we've launched recently is the Inman Family Wines site.
It's always great when we hear or see our clients dedicating time and resources to marketing and testing their wine e-commerce store. Tweaking store content, optimizing email promotions, and general testing can take your e-commerce sales to the next level.
Our client/partner Wine Tasting Network (WTN) is a company we love working with because of the amount of testing they do. They gave us permission to share one of their most recent tests including the results. WTN has a few websites on our platform including Geerlings and Wade. Club members can reorder wine from their club shipment and receive 20% off if they purchase $200 or more. The director of marketing, Kristina Palko recently conducted a test to see if highlighting/reminding club members of this discount would increase reorders.
Creative for May VIP Package Insert
Starburst On June Newsletter
The object is to increase reorder revenue from Passport Wine Club members.
Test a dollar offer versus a percentage offer to see if the average order size is directly related.
Here are a few of my takeaways for wineries:
Thank you WTN (specifically Chris Edwards for allowing us to post your test on our blog, and Kristina for running and tracking tests like these).
There are tens if not hundreds of analytic measurements you can conduct on your website. Unique visitors, page views, top content, where people are visiting your site from, are all great things to look at.
The two most powerful, but often overlooked measurements are conversion rate and customer retention rate.
Conversion rate is the total number of sales divided by the total number of people visiting your site. (Technically conversion rate is the number of goals achieved divided by the number of visits, and there are a number of measurements people use such as total number of sales divided by total number of carts started, etc – the important thing is to measure it consistently month over month).
Total Number Of Visitors
Total Number Of Sales
Conversion rate gives you a benchmark of how well your ecommerce is performing month over month. Once you have a measurement, you can start to play with factors that affect conversion rate including usability, content, navigation, etc. Try changing button sizes, minimizing steps to checkout, having larger images, etc and gauge whether it increases or decreases conversion rate.
(One of the best resources on the web for conversion rate optimization is the blog at Future Now Inc)
Customer retention refers to the percentage of customers that continue to return as customers with you after a given time period.
In the wine industry, customer retention should be measured in two areas:
Total Number of Club Members Last Month
Total Number of Club Members That Remain In The Club This Month
It’s far easier and costs significantly less to retain customers than to gain new customers. Bautomation claims that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%.
The next time you are looking to see how well your ecommerce is performing, skip unique visitors and page views and calculate conversion and retention rates.
I was in a client meeting recently where I've had the opportunity to listen to several brilliant marketers. The best piece of advice: pretend you are a customer and try to buy a bottle of wine from your site. (If you're doing this exercise I would encourage you to pick a specific customer you know from your customer list and pretend you're are him or her and go through the shopping process.)
As a customer, here are my biggest peeves when I shop for wine online:
1) Having to create an account.
Having to create an account is a large deterrent. This has been and proven over and over again (I still see it everywhere when I shop online - often in dated websites). As a customer, I want to buy a bottle of wine and give you money. I don't want to pick a unique username, password, have to authenticate, or anything else. If you still force people to create an account, you're losing a large portion of your sales.
Visualize these lost sales. According to Forrester Research, cart abandonment rate is 23%. That means you're losing 23% of your site visitors somewhere during the checkout process because they don't want to create an account on your site.
2) Insane shipping rates.
Let's face it, wine is expensive to ship. As a customer, if I buy wine on your site at your retail price I'm in your most profitable customer segment. If I'm outside of driving distance, it means that I must really like your wine and I have chosen your wine over a wine store close to me that would gladly sell wine that I could consume immediately. Why are you taking the most profitable customer segment, that customer who is fan enough to buy your wine online, and charging them rates that are sometimes above UPS posted rates?
3) Minimum Quantities.
I was talking to a wine retailer recently who forces web customers to order in quantities of 6. What if I only want two bottles? Having quantity discounts, or shipping included in the price after a certain bottle count makes sense, but don't force me to buy 6 or 12 bottles. If I only want two bottles and you attempt to force me to buy six, you probably lost a sale!
4) Lengthy Checkout Processes
As a customer I've stumbled through your site selecting a couple wines and now I'm entering the checkout process. At this point I'm prepared to give you my payment and wait for my wine. Endless forms, profiling questions, multiple pages (often very slow due to processing and security), all drag the experience down. Form fatigue is a real issue. Do you track how many people start the checkout process and never complete it? The faster the checkout line, the happier the customer and the more likely they are to complete the sale.
5) Security Assurance
When I enter my credit card I want to feel safe. Is the webpage under SSL. Does it look professional (yes the design of the page has a lot to do with how secure a person feels). I'm still shocked sometimes when I see unsecure checkouts, or checkouts that send me off to some third party unknown site to enter my credit card.
Today my question for you is - have you shopped your own wine website?
A little over a month ago we launched our mobile ecommerce/website platform. We've been seeing mobile web browsing increase across our platform over the last year. More and more people own iPhones, Android Phones, and other smart phones and these people are surfing the web on these phones.
Most of our winery websites (all the ones without flash) preview well on a modern smart phone, but here's what happened when we introduced winery websites specifically designed for smart phones.
These conclusions are in line with what we anticipated. When surfing on a smart phone, a mobile formatted site is easier to view, loads faster, and delivers a better experience overall, which results in the visitor being more engaged.
Want to calculate how much traffic you are missing out on if you don't have a mobile site? Google Analytics makes this pretty easy to do. Once you login to Google Analytics, on the top right hand side click 'Advanced Segment' option and select 'Mobile Traffic'.
Once you have the advanced segment set to Mobile Traffic there are two things you should look at:
Want to test out the mobile experience for yourself? On your iPhone or Android phone visit one of these three sites: www.twistedoak.com, www.cuvaison.com, or www.pinewines.com. Play around on the site for awhile (by default you will be seeing the mobile site if you are on an iPhone or Android phone).
Now click the link at the bottom of each of these 3 sites that reads 'Standard Site'. You will now be viewing the site in standard mode. What difference did you experience when viewing the mobile vs standard site?
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