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.
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.
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.
Your customers want to not only know what professionals think of your wine, they want to know what average people think of your wine.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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:
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?
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?":
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:
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.
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:
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.
Thinking about redesigning your winery website? If so, here are three common mistakes to avoid before jumping into your redesign.
Even though your old site might be dated, it still garners traffic from outside sources. Half the people visiting a winery website enter via a search engine. Inbound links from blogs, social media, and other websites also represent a good portion of traffic.
These links to product pages, company pages, contact pages, etc are often broken in a site redesign. (Different platforms and designers handle URLs differently, and often you will want your URL structure updated for search engine ranking and other reasons).
The proper way to handle updating URL structure is:
Your most frequent site visitors probably don't want you to drastically change the site design (even if it's better, people don't always want to learn a new way of doing a task).
In an ideal world, your site would be continually enhanced rather than drastically altered every few years. If your club members are used to coming to your site and quickly placing an order, and you then completely redesign the store, it often throws the user way off.
Consider the redesign we did this past year for Twisted Oak. The new site is more of a progression on the old site rather than an evolution. The overall navigation structure and location of the wines and products didn't change that much and previous visitors should be able to find their way around.
Bottom line, think 'evolution' rather than 'revolution'.
We see a lot of redesigns just because a site is dated. While it's fine to redesign a dated site, it's even better to set goals for your site.
Design is very important to your site, but you should look first at function, structure, goals, and business objectives of the site. Your designer should walk you through a design process that starts with these goals.
We start all of our sites with a goal questionnaire followed by wireframes. A wireframe will allow you to focus on function (for example what are the key elements on the homepage and what are their goals) rather than on design.
One more thing to think about when redesigning your site is the historical data. If you are switching platforms, it's important that order history, customer lists and other data be brought over to your new site. The longer you sell online, the more important this data becomes. (Being able to build lists, segment customers, etc off historical data is a very effective way of marketing.)
If you are thinking about a redesign, there are more options and better tools than ever before. Just make sure you are thinking about the overall affects rather than doing a redesign just for the sake of a redesign.
As an owner of a wine web site one of the biggest challenges you will face is conveying "The Experience" of your winery, facility, vineyard, and wines. At Vin 65 we often get asked to capture as much of the atmosphere of the winery in the design of the web site as possible. We use all kinds of things like flash and photos to give the visitor to the web site as much as we can.
At Vin 65 we have lots of fun ideas, some are really out there. My current personal favourite is offering an online tasting pack. The purpose is give a visitor the option to have a virtual tasting room experience. In a tasting room there is a $10 fee or something to taste some wine and then you get a credit towards your purchase. So why not built a tasting pack around 6 small bottles that are like 200ml or 150ml each and send it out for $25.00 or something with a $20.00 coupon towards their next purchase?
In this way you can give someone the option to try and savour some of your amazing wine if they can't get out to your winery for a tasting. It allows potential direct to trade customers to sample without spending hundreds of dollars. Getting out to the winery is the best, but if someone back East can't make it out this year for your new vintages, give them an option. How are you going to capture new customers or give your current fans a vehicle to send their friends a cool tasting gift.
Anyway, back to the main point of the post and that is sharing what your are all about on the web site, as limiting as a web site is. One thing you never see is a 360 view of your wine bottle. Now, hardly anyone does this, maybe because the impact just wouldn't be worth effort. I saw it for the first time the other day and was shocked how much more impact it had than I thought was possible. It looks really impressed on silk screened labels, but works on any bottle. Take a look at JAQK Cellars - and click the 360 view on the drilldown page. I like it - a lot, I feel like I am experiencing that bottle of wine as much as I can with out opening it.
We've seen consumer reviews make a large difference in conversion rates online, and we've known for quite some time that people trust other people's opinions. Here are the numbers according to Nielsen. 70% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online. This is higher than trust of TV, newspaper, magazine, radio and all other mass advertising listed in the survey. (Thanks Kristina for sending this to me earlier this week.)
If you are not letting consumers post reviews on your website, is it maybe because you don't trust your consumers?
The customer experience in the checkout process will make a difference in whether a customer completes the transaction or abandons their cart.
Here are five points to consider in your checkout process:
1) Make it easy for customers to get to the checkout area. Once items have been added to the cart, the "checkout" button should be clearly marked and visible to the customer. This button should be the largest button on the cart page. (Also ensure that when a customer clicks the checkout button, they are taken to the checkout page.)
2) Keep the customer focused. Once inside the checkout area, don't lead the customer away to other sales or promotions. The checkout process should be fully enclosed and devoid of almost all navigational elements. (Have you noticed that most large ecommerce stores switch their navigation or remove their navigation in the checkout area.)
3) Only capture the information required. This seems obvious, but how many times in the checkout process have you been asked for buying preferences, newsletter signups, or even to select a username and password. Gathering extraneous information can easily be done after the customer checks out. (Use contact points such as the confirmation page and order confirmation emails to request the user signup for your newsletter, create an account, etc)
4) Assure the customer about the trustworthiness and security of the checkout process. Trustworthiness can be communicated through a security assurance message and having an SSL certificate. Trustworthiness is also communicated by posting contact information, delivery charges and by having a smooth checkout process.
5) Use Customer Friendly Forms. There are a large number eye tracking studies with regards to forms and labels. It's accepted that the form fields should fit the information that is to be entered and should be clearly labelled. Studies also show clear advantages when the label is placed directly above the form field. Form fields are not a great place to show off creativity.
Is customer experience costing you sales? Visit the recent store we launched for Cuvaison and tell us what you think of the customer experience. We would love to hear your opinion.
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