Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites and best practices to sell more wine online.
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.
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:
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.
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?
If you want to get a whole lot of differing opinions, be sure to read the OWC thread.
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)
Buying wine can be a frustrating experience. High shipping costs, inventory, compliance and other regulations can lead to a bad experience.
A customer who faces a bad experience will first blame the website for bad experiences (he doesn't blame Fed Ex for high shipping costs, and he doesn't blame the government for compliance regulations)
The quickest way to ease some of those frustrations is to be right up front with customers. At the cart level (or even on the product page) show your customers their shipping costs, let the customer know if the product is in stock, and let the customer know if you can ship to his state or province.
Hiding crucial information until the checkout, or worse yet, notifying a customer via email after they have placed an order for some of these crucial items creates a bad experience and will only reflect badly on you.
We've been talking about the importance of first time visitors to your site. Last week we were doing some analysis for a customer, and as I watched Jason walk through their web statistics, a really interesting statistic jumped out at me.
Most purchases happen on the third visit to this customer’s website. (While we don't have statistics across our customer base, I can tell you that this customer has sizable traffic and a sizable order volume on their site)
Obviously repeat visitors buy more than first time visitors, but I would never have guessed that it took a person three visitors before they made their first purchase.
If the average person doesn't buy until they have visited your site three times, there are a few things that you can consider doing:
You can profile your customers in a couple of ways. For this post I am going to talk about how customers make buying decisions based on their emotional profile. There are 4 basic types of customers out there: competitive, spontaneous, methodical, and humanistic. There is lots of good info out there on these types of customers, but here are the highlights.
1. Competitive Types
These guys love to be first. They respond really well when you highlight new wine releases or best sellers. They will probably be wine club members and if they are big fans of your winery or store will subscribe to your newsletter so they can be “first-in-the-know”.
Competitive customers are skimmers. They want to see some wine specs and a brief description without drilling down. Details aren’t as important as being the first.
For the competitive customers you want to make sure your site has featured wines and good summary information. You may also want to have some exclusive offers in your wine club to give this type of customer the edge they look for in the products they buy.
2. Spontaneous Types
Spontaneous customers are more interested in sales and coupons. They will respond to emotional hooks like limited stock, time sensitive offers, and overnight shipping.
These customers also respond well to customer reviews and ratings. Show how many reviews there are and how each wine or gift ranks. This will help to build trust in your wine.
3. Methodical Types
Just like you would imagine the methodical shopper will do as much research as possible before taking the plunge. They will read everything on a product and want more. In depth wine descriptions, tasting notes, and technical details are going to be very important.
Ratings by trusted sources and even video are going to score big points.
On the flip side impulse tactics like limited time offers can back fire for this customer. The could become sceptical and want to see the fine print.
4. Humanistic Types
This type of customer is swayed by peer opinion. What other say will weigh heavily on their decision to buy or not. They will like to dwell on the purchase and make sure they are making the right choices. These are the kinds of customers that will want to call in and talk to someone at the winery or use live chat support.
Humanistic types also are influenced by customer reviews and ratings and will really appreciate a link to call for advice or for buying options which could be accompanied by a welcoming photo.
Future Now's Always be Testing Webinar
We all understand that they are different kinds of people. Some people are on the edge and want the latest product, some people want the tried and true, and other people are crowd followers and want what everyone else has.
Seth Godin writes in his post today: "Some people want to do things because they are interesting. Some people want to do things because they work. Some people want to do things because everyone else is doing them."
Now take Seth's quote and change it to wine sales. Some people buy wines because they are unique or they want to try something new. Some people buy wines that they have previously tasted and they know are good. Some people buy wines because everyone else is buying them.
Too often a web page is designed for a single type of person. Typically the website designer or website owner fits into a specific type of person and they design the web page for how they would buy wine.
So how do you setup your page to market to these different kinds of people
For the people who want to buy your unique or new wines, you can have a pod showing your latest or featured wine. For people who want their tried and true product, make it easy for them to find their product (via search, or via an easy to understand navigation). For the people who want to buy wines because everyone else is buying them, you can show them the most popular wines, or highest rated wines. Amazon and other ecommerce stores often have a "people who purchased this product also bought this product".
Remember not everyone shops the same way.
Last week Friday I went to the Internet Marketing Conference (IMC) held in Vancouver, BC. The topics ranged from SEO, visitor intent tracking, A/B testing, Google Website Optimizer, Social Media, website monetization, CMS systems, web 2.0, community engagement, mobile marketing, conversion optimization, website analytics, email tracking, copywriting and online advertising. The conference has previously been held in New York City, Las Vegas, Montreal, Stockholm, Berlin, and Copenhagen.
There were over 50 speakers from Europe, the United States and Canada coming together to speak at this sold out conference held at the Coast Plaza Hotel. The speakers were from companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Victoria Secret, VanCity, and Aeroplan.
I was having lunch with one of the past presidents from the International Internet Marketing Association (IIMA) and after talking about different CMS option and he asked if I would speak on a panel about CMS for them. I’m looking forward to meeting with IIMA and the other panel members.
I feel there were three main topics that seemed to seep through each topic, SEO, testing and social media. (I’ll put these topics into short bullet points to recap for you).
At what time during the e-commerce shopping process are you going to ask for a shipping state? Are you going to ask early on if the person is shipping to a prohibited state and then warn them? At what point are you going to run a full compliance check?
Another question is: are you going to show your wine to visitors who are shipping to a prohibited state? If you show them the wine, are you going to let them know up front that they can't purchase wine due to the state they are shipping to?
At wine.com, before you enter the site they ask for your shipping state. If you choose a prohibited state like Alabama, they don't even show you wine on the site, instead they message you and show you other gifts.
Most of the e-commerce sites developed by eWinery Solutions ask you for your shipping state when you place your first item in your cart. If you pick a prohibited state like Alabama, they message you and then in most cases limit the products you can see unless you change your shipping state. (We were previously the developers of the eWinery system and we know that this question went round a few times over the years).
At Inertia Beverage most of their e-commerce sites allow you to add wines to your cart, checkout, and then during the checkout they tell you that they can't ship to your state if you've choosen a prohibited state.
(If you’re reading this and I misrepresented your company in any way, feel free to correct me in the comments).
There are definitely pros and cons to each of the above methods.
At Vin | 65 we have handled this a few ways. On our recent site launch of Burgundy and Beyond we allow you to pick your shipping state at anytime in the order. So you can pick it while you are shopping (and if you pick a prohibited state, we show you product but we don't allow you to purchase, instead we message you at the top of the screen). We also allow you to select your shipping state in the cart (here again if you pick a prohibited state we message you, if you pick a compliant state we are showing the shipping and taxes up front). We also allow users to proceed right to the checkout before telling us their state if they like. During checkout if you pick a prohibited state we do stop them from completing the order.
So when do you feel it’s appropriate to start gathering a shipping state? Is Wine.com’s method to upfront? Do you want to ask in the cart? Do you wait till the checkout? And how about people who are from prohibited states, do they get lead down a path and not told till the checkout? Or do you think they know they can’t buy wine online?
You’d think by now someone trying to sell something on the internet would remember while setting up their ecommerce site, how frustrating some shopping carts and forms can be.
I host a group on Facebook called Okanagan Wines, each Friday three other guys and myself taste a one varietal from two different Okanagan wineries. We realized we needed to order wine directly from the wineries because of the selection, or lack thereof, in the liquor stores. I started out by visiting wineries websites to order wine and I ended up with a headache.
I was looking to buy only one bottle but the minimums were either 6 or 12, so that they could put it in a case. Is this convenient for me or the winery? Why can’t you allow me to buy whatever quantity the customer wants?! If it’s not a full case just charge the same shipping amount as a full case. I went through more than 20 different websites trying to buy wine and after a while of searching I found two sites that would let me buy one bottle. (Is it me or this strange? I’m trying to buy one bottle of wine but because of their e-commerce sites I can’t).
The second website that we ordered one bottle from had an error during the check out both times I tried to order it.
The forms were a huge part of why the user experience was so terrible. Most of the forms were lengthy and asking for more information necessary for sale. On several site I needed to sign up for an account in order to purchase the wine only to find out later that the minimum as a case of six. This should be clearly outlined before I have to sign up.
Are Okanagan Wineries serious about e-commerce on their websites? If you have an e-commerce site here are a few tips:
What do you want to see out of your e-commerce site? Have any horror stories from websites you’ve bought from, or tried to buy from?
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