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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
 
November 3, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

3 Mistakes When Redesigning Your Website

Thinking about redesigning your winery website? If so, here are three common mistakes to avoid before jumping into your redesign.

1. Forgetting about Search Engines and Inbound Links

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:

  • Look at your site analytics and determine where your traffic is coming from and what links people are visiting.
  • Create 301 redirects pointing traffic from your old links to your new links. (A 301 redirect is the proper way to inform search engines that the redirected URL is the new URL for the old content). Your developer should be able to do this for you (or in the case of our platform you can do it inside our content management system)

2. Forgetting about your Frequent Customers

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'.

3. Not Setting any Goals Before Jumping In

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.

Bonus:

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.
 

Time Posted: Nov 3, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Peter Andres
 
September 8, 2009 | Peter Andres

The Experience

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.

Time Posted: Sep 8, 2009 at 9:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
August 17, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Consumers reviews - do you trust them?

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?

Time Posted: Aug 17, 2009 at 8:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
July 5, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Improving Customer Experience Part 2: The Checkout

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.

Time Posted: Jul 5, 2009 at 11:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
June 14, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Improving Customer Experience Part 1: The Modal Cart

Have you ever really thought about the 'Add to Cart' function on your ecommerce site? In a typical experience (and this is true on sites we build), you are in the store, you look at an item, you click 'add to cart' and you are taken away from the product you are looking at and redirected to a completely different area of the website where you focus on the items in your cart.

Imagine if the offline world behaved the same way. You walk through the grocery store, picked up an item, looked at it, and then when you added it to your shopping cart you are whisked away to a different part of the store and all you can see are the items in your cart.

One of the big ways to improve a user experience on the web is to not take users out of the context they are in. In a site we launched last week, Twisted Oak does this 'Add to Cart' experience well. If you are on a product list page and click 'Add to Cart' (or Add To Sack in this case), you stay on the same product list page and a little 'modal' cart drops in to let you know the item was added. If you are on a product drilldown page, and click 'Add to Cart', the same modal effect. The user is never whisked away to another part of the site.

From a user perspective this "modal cart" becomes more like the real world shopping experience where you add something to your cart, and continue down the same isle.

What do you think?
 

Time Posted: Jun 14, 2009 at 8:40 PM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
April 19, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Are you inward or outward?

I was recently travelling with one of our sales reps and was intrique by the line of question that wineries asked us. A number of people fell into one of two camps:

Inward Facing: This type of person asked operational type questions about how the website could make their operations easier. Questions like: Does our platform integrate with their POS system? How can they get UPS shipping labels out of our platform? Almost all of the questions centered around the operations at the winery and how we could make it easier.

Outward Facing: This type of person asked sales type questions about how the website could sell more, how customers interact with it, and how they could go to market better or more efficiently with a website.

--

I'm not arguing against either of these camps. There is a need for both.  I was just really intrigued by how some people really tended to lean one way.  For myself, when I look at personality types, I typically like to know where I fit in so I can realize that other people think different than me.

So are you inward or outward?

Time Posted: Apr 19, 2009 at 8:52 PM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
March 23, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Do security messages increase sales?

A client wrote an email that reads "....I've been reading a bunch of articles and blogs on ecommerce carts and one of the trends I noticed was that customers are more likely to purchase something from your site when they "feel" secure using it. What sort of messages/images can we display/use to create this "feeling" that our site is secure?"

Providing reassurances to the customer through the checkout process does lead to less cart abandonment and encourages conversions.

So what kind of messages make you feel "safe". It's not just one thing. Trust arises out of lots of small trust-producing features.

  • Start with your full postal address and telephone number of your company.  Put your phone number large on the page.
  • Be up front about all charges (delivery charges, handling, etc).
  • Offer clear signs of server security, SSL locks, security icons, etc. (The McAfee/Hacker Safe logo reported increases sales by 14%).
  • Use Opt-in options rather than opt out schemes (nobody likes to feel they are being scammed into signing up for a newsletter)
  • Include links to privacy policy, security policy, etc.
  • Build trust by ensuring that the entire checkout is a smooth process and error free (nothing destroys trust like a broken process).

So what is the perfect assurance message? No one message is going to work for everyone. Start with some of the basics, and then use Google Website Optimizer to test it over time.

Time Posted: Mar 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Brent Johnson
 
March 20, 2009 | Brent Johnson

Reviews and Ratings Sell More Wine Online

77% of online shoppers use reviews and ratings and 63% are more likely to purchase from a site if it has wine reviews and ratings.

It seems that wineries are hesitant to use reviews and ratings on their websites because they fear the bad or negative reviews that their wine might get. Research from BazaarVoice, a leading ratings and review marketing specialist, indicates that negative reviews can increase the product conversion rate. People realize products are not perfect and that everyone has a different pallet.

User Reviews vs. Critic Reviews

Who would you trust more when buying wine, a wine critic’s review or user generated reviews? The results from marketing surveys done by Market Sherpa are totally one-sided. 86.9% of respondents said they would trust a friends’ recommendation over a review by a critic, and 83.8% said they would trust a user review over a critics review.

So here is what to think about when you’re putting your review section up on your site:

  • Placement (above the fold)
  • Size
  • Stars or other graphics
  • Ease of reading
  • Sorting
  • Rate Distribution
  • Use across the site
  • Rate wine attributes or individual wines.

Rating and reviews are a great way to increase your visitor’s activity on your site and you can offer incentives for them to come back and write reviews and rate your wine. Send out an email 10 days after their purchase asking them if they liked it. You could offer free shipping on their next purchase once they write a review.

Time Posted: Mar 20, 2009 at 7:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
March 8, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

How to choose a website/e-commerce provider.

There's been a great discussion on Open Wine Consortium about choosing an e-commerce platform. The discussion has been going on for almost a year and every so often the conversation sparks up again. (Right now it's six pages long)

These discussions often degrade into a platform feature comparison and what you can do on each platform. At Vin | 65 we offer one of the best all around feature sets for a winery (obviously I have a personal bias here). However I feel that comparing features is really the wrong way to go.

I firmly believe it has more to do with your developers and marketers than with the features itself. With a professional experienced developer you gain a lot of knowledge that you wouldn't necessary have yourself. (Just like having an experienced wine maker producing your wine)

So how should you choose an e-commerce platform? And what is the best deal?

  1. Compare the external sales you can achieve with each platform. Website design has a huge impact on sales. (Often the initial visit is all about the experience and story you tell) Marketing opportunities such as capturing visitor information, have an impact on sales. The website developer and marketers should be able to assist you here.
  2. Compare the internal costs you will save with each platform.  Which platforms are going to let you do your job more efficently. (This often comes down to which provider has the best features, and the easiest to use features)
  3. Compare the ongoing platform costs in terms of licensing fees, in terms of support, and how much time the platform will require from you.

If you want to get a whole lot of differing opinions, be sure to read the OWC thread.
 

Time Posted: Mar 8, 2009 at 8:03 PM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
March 1, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

The power of consumer reviews

The statistics are everywhere. Consumer reviews generate more sales.

I personally have had a few questions with clients and prospects about ratings and reviews, and in some of these conversations the client has been sceptical. The client has felt that a single bad rating can bring down the average or a negative review can turn off buyers. That's true if the glass is half empty.

A single bad rating can lend credibility to your product. When I look at reviews at Amazon and I see 19 good reviews and 1 bad review, it leads to credibility.

A negative review can turn buyers off, but it can also let you address a negative experience. Properly handling a negative experience shows class, and it can turn a person into a fan. (And if the consumer isn't telling you about their negative experience, you can bet they are telling their friends)

Don't fear the negative review.

Time Posted: Mar 1, 2009 at 10:34 PM
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