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Vin65 Blog

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.

Andrew Kamphuis
 
May 3, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

Interview with Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Rock Star - Chris Oggenfuss

Chris Oggenfuss is a 13 year Direct-to-Consumer wine marketing veteran working at wineries such as V. Sattui Winery, Benziger Family Winery and Imagery Estate Winery. In 2009 he founded Oggenfuss Wine Marketing and over the last year has executed several marketing initiatives. My two personal favorites are the V. Sattui iPhone App and his OWMarketing Channel on Youtube

I've had a few opportunities to talk and work with Chris and I have always been impressed. This past week he agreed to an interview about Direct-to-Consumer marketing and here is what he had to say:

Chris, for wineries just getting started or ramping up their direct-to-consumer marketing plans, which key tactics should they prioritize?

Start with the end in mind and develop a strategy. Ensure that you are customer focused; create a great experience for the consumer and build a relationship. The next step is to focus on data collection. This needs to happen across all customer contact points.  I cannot stress enough how important this is! The goal is to get everyone’s email information whether you're connecting with the customer through your tasting room, website or phone. No one will ever get 100% conversion, but that should be what you strive for. Next, get yourself a database or software that helps you manage the customer data that you are collecting. Best case is to have a POS and E-commerce solution that automatically feeds this database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, that way you are not only collecting customer data, but customer behavior and purchase history. The end goal should be a 360 degree view of your customer.

Relationship marketing: what are some simple, effective ways to provide personalized touches that can help deepen a winery's relationships with its customers?

Follow up on purchases no matter where they are made (either virtual or from your physical site) with a personalized thank you note.  I can’t stress enough how far a personal thank you note can go in cementing a long-term relationship.

Acknowledge your best customers by interacting with them. Don’t let this be a one-sided relationship where the only time you communicate with them is when you send them a receipt or email them an offer.

Be available and engage where your customers and potential customers are. Be it at your winery, in a virtual sense or in social media. Are you listening to what is being said about your brand? Are you engaging at the point of need or demand? Are you adding to the conversation as opposed to broadcasting a message? When someone speaks of your brand positively follow up and thank them. If there is negative conversation engage and exercise the opportunity to convert that person into an evangelist.  Some of my clients have had great success in doing this.

Humanize your brand by understanding your customer. This comes from listening and paying attention to each individual customer's needs. How do you accomplish this? Data collection - the more data you collect on a customer the more information you have to act on and personalize each contact point.

How does social media, location-based apps like Foursquare play a part in that? Anything in the pipeline that we should watch for?

Social Media allows your brand to be available 24/7, it allows you to build your peer-to-peer brand ambassadors who will help you build trust and earned media.  You can continue that one-on-one conversation or relationship virtually. By becoming part of the conversation your relationships are strengthened and become even more genuine. When you build a relationship you do a lot of listening and respond according to the other persons needs, when this happens trust is built, resulting in brand loyalty and profits.

Foursquare is great in that it allows businesses to do some pretty creative things when it comes to recognizing loyalty and rewarding visitors who put you on the social map. You can see who has checked in and reach out to them in real life and start a relationship that is sure to continue.

I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media and augmented reality, especially as far as businesses can leverage the potential. I would look for more social media integration across a winery’s digital and physical assets. We are actually working on a project that does just that and also integrates data collection to convert the visitor into a customer.

One of your recent YouTube videos on the OWMarketing Channel addressed the hub and spoke analogy. Tell us more about that.

Well, the way I see it is that your website should be the hub of all your activity, meaning that this is where you want the revenue producing engagement to happen. I see Twitter, Facebook, etc as the spokes that should be used to drive traffic to your hub. I can’t tell you how many websites are doing just the opposite. They are driving the traffic, conversation, and interaction away from their sites onto the ancillary social networks. In my mind the role of social media is to help you not only engage and acquire new followers and friends, but then to help drive them back to your website where you can convert them into customers. This is how the ROI question about social media is going to get answered. The sites that are themselves set up for social commerce will be able to do this most effectively.

Your newly developed iPhone and Android app for V. Sattui Winery: Tell us about it and how wineries can use mobile apps in their marketing strategies.

We are very excited about V. Sattui’s iPhone app, they are one of the first to leverage an app to help strengthen consumer relationships and deliver relevant content to a mobile device. The app was originally developed for the music industry but we saw that a lot of its functionality could be adapted to a winery’s needs, so we approached V. Sattui winery and got them excited to the possibilities. The app allows wineries to take advantage of push notification and even geo-target that notification. Imagine you are a winery and your winemaker is in Chicago selling wine in the market. With the app you would be able to send a push notification to all your followers who are in Chicago and invite them to a special winemaker dinner. You can send push notification when a new wine is released and drive traffic to your shopping cart or tasting room. The marketing possibilities here are endless. The app also allows for full social media integration with Facebook and Twitter as well as having it’s own fan wall. It has an events calendar, allows for purchases within the app, mailing list sign up, and streaming video. It even allows you to stream live video direct to the user's phone. Basically it allows the winery to be available around the clock on a device that people carry around with them everywhere, freeing the information from the constraints of a computer. It also allows the winery access to rich analytics.

Which tactics do you recommend to increase a winery's online sales?

Here again it’s about fostering your relationship and providing a great experience.  Let’s address the relationship part first. Do you understand your customer? (This goes back to being able to collect data). Are you able to target your offerings and campaigns to those customers that are most likely to purchase? Do you know what a particular customer's preferences are? Customers want to be understood and have their needs met and a well-crafted and targeted email campaign does just that. Now for the experience part, you need to make sure that your ecommerce site is easy for the consumer to use and navigate. Nothing is worse then a shopping cart that requires the user to hunt for what they want and then requires them to click through 7-10 pages to execute a purchase. Remember amazon.com has defined how users expect the online shopping experience to be. Do some RMF analysis of your database to identify your top customers and then tailor an experience accordingly. Make sure that every offer you send has urgency and a clear call to action. The final point is to make the content of your site, email campaign, and social media efforts exciting and engaging. Use video! A recent comScore study shows that online video viewers spend 20% more on e-commerce than the average Internet user.

Remember you are not just selling a product; with wine you are selling lifestyle and romance.

How do you feel about wine product pages that feature consumer reviews?

I absolutely think that is the right way to go because it leverages peer endorsements.  Studies have shown that next to trial tastings, friend and peer recommendations are the second biggest driver of wine sales. I am always surprised at how many wineries have not yet incorporated this in their e-commerce solution. The future of online sales is in integrating social media in your website (aka social commerce). Think amazon.com and zappos.com. Remember your goal is to engage your customer on your site, why would you force them to review your products somewhere else? Think of it as your 24/7 focus group.

What do you say to wineries who are afraid to receive lukewarm or negative reviews?

You need to get over it! People are going to talk about your brand and products whether you give them the opportunity to do so on your site or not. Customers trust peer reviews because it helps them make a decision. Reviews drive sales. If you make a great product, have great service and meet your customers expectations why be afraid? When you are delivering on the aforementioned fronts you are sure to have more positive reviews then negative, plus your good and regular customers are going to be your biggest supporters and allies, they will help self-moderate the reviews and defend you against the negative ones. I have seen this happen time and time again. Besides, I am of the mind set that a complaint or negative review is a gift, as it allows you to take action and win over one more customer.

Which areas of direct-to-consumer marketing do you see wineries struggling with the most? Why do you think that is? Your advice to them?

The Direct-to-Consumer areas that most wineries struggle with are strategy, technology, customer data analysis, and how to use social media to drive conversions and sales.  
 
Develop a clear direct-to-consumer strategy! While tactical actions can get you only so far, a well-developed strategy can help you make the most of your resources. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?
 
Invest in technology across your entire direct-to-consumer business and make sure that technology is integrated and talks to each other. The goal here is a 360 degree view of the customer not only for the winery, but also for the customer. Your strategy will dictate your technology needs.
 
Spend time analyzing your customer data and applying RFM principals to this data. This is the low hanging fruit! It is far easier and cheaper to increase revenue from an existing customer and extend their lifecycle and lifetime value (LTV) then it is to acquire a new customer. Yet time and again I see wineries spending their time and efforts on customer acquisition and neglecting their current customers
 
Use social media not just because it is there, use it to build your business!  Again strategy here is key. Contrary to popular belief you can drive conversions and sales using social media. It all starts with building a relationship and setting expectations. A consumer following a business on social media is doing so to have access to information, stay in touch and yes, receive special offers. A recent eMarketer study supports this.

Chris, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Your recommendations to our readers are much appreciated.

Chris can be found on Twitter, Facebook, his YouTube Channel or contacted through his website.

Time Posted: May 3, 2010 at 9:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
April 8, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

Ramping up your Direct-to-Consumer Marketing - Interview With Digital KungFu Master - Paul Mabray

One of the biggest voices in the wine technology space is that of Paul Mabray, CEO of VinTank and founder and former-CEO of Inertia Beverage Group.

Paul is truly visionary and far-from-shy about leading the way to develop, critique and implement ideas and strategies to improve the online wine world. Paul and VinTank are valuable partners of ours as well as close friends.

I had the opportunity to ask Paul a few questions recently and he stayed up way late answering them for us.

Paul, for wineries just getting started or ramping up their direct-to-consumer marketing plans, which key tactics should they prioritize?

I don’t want to start as a broken record but a plan is key. Strategic and tactical. However, the core of all DTC strategies should be customer centric. Google put the power into the consumers hands. Social networks put a megaphone and an interconnectivity never before seen in human history. Both positive and negative consumer reactions to your product can spread like flash fires. Being customer centric is part of the new world. 

Relationship marketing: what are some simple, effective ways to provide personalized touches that can help deepen a winery's relationships with its customers? How does social media, location-based apps like Foursquare play a part in that? Anything in the pipeline that we should watch for?

There are many marketing components that Location Based Service (LBS) like BrightKite, Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, et al bring to a winery. But in the end these are just customer connection mediums (adding a new dimension of locality). This could include rewarding visitors when they notify you and the world they are at your location or give them recommendations when they go to other locations. They are just new methods to create deeper engagement with your customers. However, the first statement about whatever strategy or tactic you choose to leverage these platforms, your view still needs to be customer centric. 

You recently tweeted that "Pro-direct doesn't mean anti-distribution" (something to that effect). Tell us more about that.

I’ll break this into two segments of direct: DTT and DTC

DTT provides a healthy route to market for small brands or products. It acts as an incubator for brand building. Remember, wholesalers provide a necessary service to wine brands that have good strong velocity and require high service. However, smaller brands (due to the total quantity worldwide of 55K) and due to the regulations of wholesaler being required to buy the products (no consignment). Excuse me while I geek out on wine industry dynamics and economics. Wine is a what we call a SUPER long tail industry (an amplification of the www.longtail.com theory) and only one of four consumer good package industries that has this level of different products (books, movies, music, and wine). We produce at least 250K different wine products per year and far more SKU’s than that (375 ml, 750 ml , etc). This SKU load compounds in the market vintage to vintage and remains alive three to ten years in the market (sometimes more). e.g. 3 years into the future times 250K products equals 750K products! Can you imagine a wine store with 750K products? Or go ten years into the future how about 3M? And unlike the other three super long tail products, who are increasingly being distributed digitally, wine is the only absolute physical product. You can’t deliver wine virtually. Ever. One other unusual aspect about the wine industry’s long tail is the price is not as normalized like other three super long tail products and almost has an inverse pricing structure to the demand curve. e.g. Kistler has far more carrying costs and inventory risk than Mondavi Woodbridge. In essence it is the prohibitive economics of wine buying in the middle tier that create dysfunction. Wholesalers can’t support the product load and would benefit from an alternative channel that allows wineries to build a trade customer base to a level that requires their support and doesn’t force them to take inventory positions until the winery has market penetration and awareness. DTT is key for the health of all tiers of the market. They provide that incubator and pressure relieve valve of product overload for wholesalers. They provide alternative route to market (even to the product level for wineries). And they give restaurants and retailers a more diverse selection to compete in the market to better distinguish themselves to the consumers.

DTC is over demonized by wholesalers. Remember that most consumers buy wine and consume it within 3 hours of purchase. DTC does not support that behavior. However, it does allow consumers to purchase wine they enjoy and if they are in need, they will buy within the local market. It builds awareness and customer loyalty as well. Wineries that have combined DTC and traditional distribution are stronger as brands and the wholesaler pull is better than those without DTC in the market. DTC acts as pull marketing due to the industry dynamics. Also DTC gives back strong margins to wineries to help them become and remain healthy companies. This health allows them to reinvest dollars into sales and marketing efforts THAT SUPPORT wholesalers trade efforts. Wholesalers, don’t you want financially healthy partners?

#NapaValleyTweetup: Tell us about it and how wineries can use tweetups in their marketing strategies.

Tweetups are an interesting marketing vehicle. They can work in many ways but here are two that are most easy to recognize. First, it is an easy way to not only speak with you customers, but to allow them to meet each other and talk amongst themselves. At its core it is community building with your brand as a key element. It is also very obviously a point of purchase catalyst for IN-MARKET as well as DTC purchasing. How else are the consumers in out-of-state markets going to get the wine to taste? The tweetup provides value at all tiers. The winery connects with its customers, creates sales catalysts, and brand equity. The wholesaler gets the benefit of in-market pull. The retailer gets the benefit of in-market pull as well as the opportunity to participate in the conversation with consumers (many theirs). And the consumer gets to interact directly with the winery & retailer, create relationships with other wine consumers, learn about wine and wine tasting, and enjoy an experience.

Which tactics do you recommend to increase a winery's online sales?

  • Invest in the channel (human and financial resources). 
  • Create a customer centric strategy to SUPPORT your ecommerce and more. 
  • Choose your foundation of software partners wisely. The last one is key. Not only do they have to be aligned with your interests, they need to play nice in the sandbox with other best of breed vendors. 
  • Do not let accounting lead the reason for your software decisions. Let sales and marketing lead the decision.
  • For larger wineries, make sure brand ALIGNS its interest with consumer direct. Most sites led by brand managers do NOT take into account web best practices (SEO, conversion, etc) that are healthy for both the brand in market as well as DTC sales.

How do you feel about wine product pages that feature consumer reviews? What do you say to wineries who are afraid to receive lukewarm or negative reviews?

I think consumer reviews are key for helping consumers overcome the friction associated with buying ANY item online. Per kiwitobes.com, and his class with former Chief Scientist at Amazon) Andreas Weigend, Amazon makes 20-30% of its sales from recommendations. Only 16% of people go to Amazon with explicit intent to buy something. If I were to learn something about e-commerce, I definitely would look to Amazon (I think they know a thing or two). The fear of a negative review is understandable and tactics and methods for addressing low reviews from consumers is as much art as science (no brand wants a product sheet filled with expletives). However, with proper processes, tools and company rules of engagement, even negative comments can be assets to create deeper customer engagement and trust.

Which areas of direct-to-consumer marketing do you see wineries struggling with the most? Why do you think that is? Your advice to them?

E-commerce, Social Media and CRM. It is not a winery’s fault, we just don’t have enough talent in those disciplines to date. Remember online ecommerce has only been really viable for barely 5 years (before that it was viable, but only accessible to 14 states). As a result it is also the least healthy DTC channel for wineries and thus, the least in importance for investment, resources, and understanding. Ironically it is ecommerce that gives the wineries a window to many, many more customers than a tasting room ever could. With the tasting you room you are limited by the amount of people that come to you. The internet gives you access to the world.

Anything else?

I believe the future of wine online starts with the wineries cleaning and solidifying the foundation of our houses. That to me means ensuring customer and product data are ready for tomorrow. If I were to ask a winery to do four things to ensure the health of their brand online it would be:

  • Invest in the channel (I know I said this before but I can’t stress it enough). If you don’t feed it, it will never become healthy and flourish. For that matter, invest properly in DTC in general. It may yield less gross sales, but more than make up for it in net revenue.
  • Create a customer centric strategy. Paraphrased from Zappos.com “One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service...” I know where I want my partners to be, on the winning side of that 30%.
  • Put your COMPLETE information into yourwineyourway.com (for FREE) to manage your digital footprint. One place, 50+ outlets that you get to control the way your brand is being represented in the digital arena.
  • Start planning your consumer CRM platform to support your consumer centric strategy. IMHO tomorrow’s future of our brands will be built on how well we understand our customer and create service that caters to their preferences while delivering great product. CRM is the foundation to build a customer centric strategy.

Paul, I appreciate your insights and candor here. As always, great info on where wineries should consider looking to increase their DTC sales.  I really appreciate the time you took to share.

Follow Paul on Twitter here, become a fan of Vintank on Facebook and/or contact him via Vintank's website.

Time Posted: Apr 8, 2010 at 9:55 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
April 6, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

Is it time for your winery/wine store to have a mobile website?

Late last year I was looking through one of our customers web analytics, analyzing some sales and browsing patterns and noticed something interesting - someone using an iPhone bought wine on this particular website.

We are hearing more and more about internet usage on smartphones - so is it time to target these mobile visitors? Let's look at some stats:

All of the websites we build work on the iPhone and Android phones, but the experience hasn't been particularly great. Like most traditional websites, when they are viewed on an mobile device it involves a lot of tapping, zooming, and scrolling.

While there are some big numbers in the links above, looking at the wine websites we build, we are only seeing between 2-5% of traffic from mobile devices. However even with these small numbers, I would argue that the time for a mobile site is now - for the following reasons:

  • The people who saw the largest successes from social media were the first people in, being early in gives you some first mover advantage.
  • Get in early, make mistakes early, and learn while the traffic is still small. Figure out what is working and what isn't working.
  • People might not spend a lot of time on your site with their mobile device because the experience isn't great right now. (Try visiting your own site on an iPhone or Android phone - would you want to spend a lot of time on it?) When the experience improves, they will spend more time and interact more - this has been proven.

~~

Today we launched our mobile ecommerce solution. If you have an iPhone or Android Phone visit http://twistedoak.com, http://cuvaison.com or our demo site http://pinewines.com. Let us know what you think of the experience.  I would also like to hear your opinions on mobile websites and mobile commerce.
 

Time Posted: Apr 6, 2010 at 6:30 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
March 9, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

Is Facebook sending your winery website more traffic than Google?

In February the San Francisco Chronicle published an article 'Facebook directs more online users than Google'.

From a winery perspective, is this true – does Facebook send you more traffic than Google?

Looking at our platform, the short answer is no and it's not even close. Across all the wineries, Google accounts for 27% of traffic and Facebook referrals only account for 2.3%. (See the first graph to the right.)

The longer answer is that it depends on the winery. Some of our clients are "getting" Facebook and those that really "get it" receive almost twice as much Facebook traffic as Google traffic. (See the second graph on the right.)

Our platform is search engine friendly. It auto creates a lot of key elements Google is looking for (in tech speak, it creates a XML site map and auto create meta descriptions, titles, and friendly URLs). Basically Google traffic can come with little effort.

Unfortunately Facebook traffic requires planning, effort and it takes time. (There are a lot of great social media pundits in the wine industry that can assist you with your social media and Facebook strategies.)

Is Facebook traffic worth it?

My gut feeling is that Facebook traffic is higher quality traffic. Traffic comes from either a winery fanpage (in which case they already have some kind of relationship with the winery) or they come from a friend (a social referral). A Facebook friend whose positive comment on a winery's fanpage seen by a friend in their newsfeed is more powerful and influential than a list of search results on Google.

Furthermore this traffic coming from Facebook is probably not a cannibalization of existing traffic.  So it's a case of the pie being made bigger rather than being divided up differently.

As a side note Google recognizes the power of Facebook and is now ranking Facebook pages higher in its search results.

Facebook is becoming a larger and larger source of traffic and I bet if we revisit these graphs in a year they will be considerably different. Whether it's worth it now depends on the time and effort it takes and what that costs you.

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
February 10, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

The Anatomy of a Great Wine Page

Great web pages don't just happen, they require a lot of thought and planning.  What makes the page below great are five specific things.

1) Great Photography

I won't debate bottle vs label images, but every great wine page needs great photography.

People make assumptions about your wine based on how it looks. It doesn't take a professional photographer to notice a picture looks cheap, home made, and poorly done.

High resolution, high quality images will increase your perceived brand value, and high quality photos will increase sales conversion.

PS. I feel bottle shots are better than label shots.

2) Consumer Ratings and Reviews

Consumer ratings and reviews are universally acknowledged as having a significant impact on e-commerce. Study after study has linked consumer review to increased sales.

Your customers want to not only know what professionals think of your wine, they want to know what average people think of your wine.

3) Product Detail (Lots of It)

You may not be methodical (and I prefer to skim rather than read) but a large part of the population is methodical. They prefer to read in detail about your wine, how it was made, all of the content, etc. They make informed decisions and favor a logical approach in data presentation.

Also your search engine marketing team will appreciate extra detail.

4) Social Media Widgets

The return on investment is still out on adding social media widgets (such as tweet this, share this, and other social media widgets) to your page, but we believe that social media does have a positive return.

While there are an overwhelming amount of social widgets we feel that you should at least have facebook and twitter on each product page (If you're one of our clients, ask us about our new social media bar which includes these widgets for every wine page).

5) Ecommerce

Last but not least is the entire ecommerce piece on your wine page that plays an important part. Pricing and incentives should be clear. The 'add to cart' button should have high contrast. If you have a 'quantity' field it should be pre-populated.

We prefer to put the 'Add to Cart' button near the top of the page. This is to accommodate both people who prefer to make faster decisions, and people who are more methodical.

~~

What do you feel belongs on your wine pages? 

Time Posted: Feb 10, 2010 at 8:45 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
January 17, 2010 | Andrew Kamphuis

Reducing Friction Points in Checkout

Your customers want to purchase your wine quickly and easily so they can move on to the next thing they are doing online.

Every hoop a customer has to jump through, every form field they have to enter, every mouse click they have to make, and every place a customer has concerns about what is being asked is a friction point. As the friction builds up, a customer can become aggravated, fatigued, confused - and ultimately they will abandon the sales process.

Here are three friction points that bother me when buying wine online.

Form Fatigue

Just looking at the overwhelming amount of information that needs to be completed on this checkout makes me fatigued. While some of this information is required, here is how to make it less cumbersome.

  1. 60% of customers use the same billing and shipping address, so the shipping address doesn't need to be shown at all (there goes half the fields). Stores like Abercrombie perfected this years ago.  Try the checkout process on some of our latest stores and see how they only show the shipping information side of the form if necessary.
  2. Fields such as fax number, website, etc should be completely abandoned, (or at least clearly marked option as I'm sure they are not a requirement to buy wine on this site). Why do I want to give you my website URL to buy wine from you??

Forced Minimum Quantities

I've shopped a number of websites where I'm prompted with a "must buy a minimum of XX bottles to checkout from this site". (Sadly 3 of 5 websites did this to me this morning).  While I fully understand the implications of shipping wine, from a customer's perspective (especially a first time customer perspective), I only want one or two bottles to try - not 12. Careful thought should given to adding a 'forced quantity' friction point. It might be better to offer shipping discounts on 12 bottles rather than forcing people to order 12 bottles.

Required Registration

We are seeing more and more websites step away from the forced account creation on checkout, but there are still too many wine e-commerce sites out there that force users to register on checkout. Why would I want to choose a username and password, or worse yet try and remember my username and password from my last purchase?

Read stories such as the $300 million dollar button, or the report from Forresters entitled Required Registration Lowers Online Conversion Rates

~~

Have you purchased wine from your website lately? What processes could be removed to make the experience better?  What is your pet-peeve when you are buying wine online?

Time Posted: Jan 17, 2010 at 12:35 PM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
December 4, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Where's My Order?

Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank was lamenting on twitter about how he ordered wine from 6 different wineries via the web and no one followed up with him. Brent and I tried the experiment ourselves a year ago with 20 Canadian wineries - unfortunately almost every website underperformed.

This past week I ordered wine (as a first time customer) from a couple different winery websites. I'm still waiting for my tracking information (even though some of the packages  have already arrived).

At a bare minimum a website should:

  1. Send an email order confirmation immediately after the order was placed.
  2. Send tracking information as soon as the order has been shipped.
  3. Provide a mechanism for customer feedback. Make it easy for customers to respond, ask questions, or even complain.
Time Posted: Dec 4, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
December 2, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

The Most Important Time in a Customer Relationship.

The most important time in a customer relationship is the three months following their first purchase.

That statement may or may not be true for you... but it's true for Kevin Hillstrom. Do you know what percentage of your first time customers will purchase again? And do you know within what time frame they will place their subsequent orders?

We spend a lot of time tweaking the customer experience on winery websites so that visitors will make the first purchase.  We also know that repeat customers are the best customers to have. What happens between the first purchase and a customer becoming a repeat purchaser?

There are some really great comments in Kevin's blog:

  1. First time buyers are in a 'honeymoon' period.
  2. First time buyers generate a lot of buzz (positive and negative) - maybe more buzz than loyal customers.
  3. First time buyers should be given an incentive for their second order. 

Consider the following scenarios:

First Time Purchaser in the Tasting Room
A visitor from out-of-town makes their first purchase in your tasting room. Converting them to a repeat purchaser becomes a lot easier if your POS and website talk with each other. We would recommend that they receive a 'Thank You' for visiting email, followed by an email asking them to rate the wines they bought, and a coupon to entice them to make their second purchase online. 

First Time Purchaser on the Web
For most wineries this consumer may be a little more rare. They heard about your wine from a friend or at a restaurant, and now they come to your website and order a bottle. Do you treat them the same as any other customer?  Wouldn't it be better to treat them special with a customized message and coupon for their second purchase?

Time Posted: Dec 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 30, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

What do customers want this holiday season?

Shop.org released the results of their eHoliday Study pre-holiday consumer and retailer surveys early in November. Here is a brief summary of the key findings when consumers were asked, "When choosing to make holiday purchases from a given retailer, what is most important to you?":

  1. Seeing the shopping cart total before starting the checkout process (yes this beat out other factors like values, deals, merchant reputation, etc)
  2. Clear product descriptions
  3. Value for money / good deals

Shop.org followed it up with a second post summarizing results of a survey of consumers about which specific Web site features they rely on most when making holiday purchases.  When rated out of 5:

  • 4.1 rated reviews from fellow customers as important.
  • 4.0 rated clearance sale pages important
  • 3.8 rated feature sale item pages important
  • 3.8 rated shipping deadline calendar as important

While none of these results are surprising, it still is astounding how many wineries don't address these issues that these survey results prove are very important to their customers. Doing so could bring that customer back to purchase again.

Time Posted: Nov 30, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 16, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Speed Sells

Are slow loading web pages causing you to lose purchasers?

The holiday season is the busiest season for winery websites. If your site isn't optimized for the load, you're selling yourself short. Earlier this month Get Elastic posted some of the research from Forrester Research on web page loading speed on their blog. Here are a few notible excerpts:

  • Next to pricing and shipping issues, poor site performance is a major cause of dissatisfaction.
  • Overall, 52% of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.
  • 61% of online shoppers who spend more than $1,500 online per year insist on pages loading quickly.
  • After a poor site experience, 27% are less likely to buy from that retailer off-line.
  • Not only does an under-performing site lead to customer frustration, but 64% of shoppers state they will simply purchase from another online store.
  • 40% would abandon if it takes more than 3 seconds

There are 3 factors that cause slow loading pages.

1) The webserver is slow. There is a trend (especially in ecommerce) to have more dynamic content which places a larger load on webservers. Webservers can become slow because there is too much traffic, the database may be slow, the hardware might be under powered, and/or the software application may not be optimally constructed. There are a number of ways to combat slow webservers such as load balancing, caching queries, adding more hardware, and reviewing overall code architecture. There are lots of load testing tools available to web developers and your developer should have a sense of how much traffic their webserver can hold.

2) The web page has large images, lots of images, large flash files, or is poorly constructed. Obviously larger images, more images, and large flash content all take longer to load. There are ways to combat slow pages including using a content delivery network, ensuring images, css, and scripts are cached, compressing and/or minimizing files, and using preloaders. Your web developer should be able to tell you the overall size of your web page and give you options to have it load faster. (Tools like YSlow make this really easy.)

3) Connection speeds are slow. Internet service providers don't always provide the connection speeds they advertise. We still see a decent percentage of traffic that is still on dial up networks. Your web page probably still needs to cater to a percentage of dialup users. (Your analytic software may give you a sense of what percentage of traffic is still on a dialup connection.)

~~

The holiday season is almost here. It's probably a good time to ensure that your website is performing at an optimal speed before the traffic increases.

Time Posted: Nov 16, 2009 at 10:00 AM
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