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.
The more "custom" your club, the more specific, hands-on processing is necessary to meet each requests which increases the opportunity for mistakes
There is no other industry that we know of where a customer says, “Just keep my credit card on file and charge me periodically for whatever you’re selling.”
So, when one leaves, it hurts.
Sometimes it is outside of your control, but one of the most common reasons for leaving a wine club is that the customer didn't like the wine you sent. Instead of the customer being glad you sent them your chosen wines, they cancel their membership because they now feel comfortable enough with your wines to choose their favorites.
To meet the customer desire to have more input on the wines in their shipment, many wineries have tried to offer “customized” clubs. A custom wine club can be an administrative nightmare as it often involves special instructions, individual orders, and a lot of manual work.
Over the years we've worked with a lot of websites managing customer clubs in many different ways, and wanted to pass on a few tips:
Beware of promising special requests - instead give everyone the option.
It is better to lose a club member and keep a customer, than lose the customer altogether by over-promising and under-delivering. The more "custom" your club, the more specific hands-on processing is needed to meet each request which increases opportunities for mistakes. Instead of one-off requests, why not make a choice open to everyone? For instance, they can chose a new Chardonnay release, or a second bottle of the Merlot if they prefer your red wines. In this way you're giving choice, but not creating an administrative nightmare for your staff, or potential disappointment for the member.
Be consistent with how you process these orders.
If you go down this path, encourage your call center, tasting room staff or club manager to be consistent with how you mark customer requests for replacement wines. Thoughtfully set up the choices for swaps, check inventory, and inform the staff. If everyone knows what the choices are and processes it the same way, there is less chance for error.
Limit the choices for the swap.
We heard of one winery recently that had over 100 club options because the call center was afraid of saying “no”. This is no longer a club, these are processing one-off orders. It is ok to provide choice - like everyone can swap the Chardonnay (default) for a Merlot - but when you get into a "pick your own" type of solution, you will enter into the realm of individual orders and not a club shipment. There are two pitfalls to a "pick your own" club. One is errors (see the first point above) but the second is scalability. It may be ok to note "always replace the Chardonnay wth the Sauvignon Blanc" for one big buyer (if you can remember to parce out his club shipment), but when that applies to 10 or 20 people, and the replacements vary...the administrative costs eats away at the profit too much. Keep your options simple and universal so your club is scalable as well as error-free.
Listen to your customers.
If the request is common, consider creating a new club tier. For instance, if you only send six bottles and you are hearing people cancel because they have too much wine, consider a two or four bottle club.
They key here, as with most things, is to listen and think through the implications. Frequent meetings with your staff selling the club might provide more ideas. We’d love for you to share them!
Like many of our colleagues and wineries, we attended both the Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium in San Francisco and the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento last month. We were on-hand to demonstrate our new iPad Point Of Sale (POS) system, and answer questions about Vin65.
We thought we'd share the top 5 questions, and link to some of our documentation.
Yes, there are a few different ways you can sell wine through Facebook. You can sell wine directly from your existing Facebook fan page or you can sell wine through Facebook’s gifting program.
Selling through your existing fan page can be a great way to engage your fans where they are spending their time. Your fans can interact with your brand, buy wines and sign up for clubs or newsletters. All of the orders, contacts, products, inventory, etc. are synced with your website ecommerce so you only need to manage one database. Facebook does not see this data and doesn't take any commission or fees.
The Facebook gifting program is setup for Facebook users to gift wines to their Facebook friends for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.. This program is set up for select wineries that use WineDirect fulfillment services. For more information about this, contact WineDirect directly.
While people typically chose a Content Management Sytem for the flexibility they offer, there is a common fear that with a CMS you will be tied to a handful of designs and relinquish creativity. This is not true. While the Vin65 CMS has templates, if you don't like our templates, you can hire a designer to custom design your site on the Vin65 CMS. We offer "designer" authoring tools that allow a web designer to develop your own custom site. And, once it is live you can take it from there. All the content, product, pricing and tasting room updates can be done by you, and you don't have to return to the designer. So rather than limiting a winery, this actualy frees you up to get the site you want now, but then access and change your content without relying on a design, coder or outside agency in the long-run.
Yes! We are a very passionate Canadian technology team based in a town just outside Vancouver, Canada – which is directly north of Seattle. We feel being ‘remote’ from most wineries actually helps us develop our eCommerce tools as we're forced to buy our wine online. We "eat our own dog food" and buy all of our wine online...just like your customers.
Our parent company, WineDirect, does have a US presence with offices in Napa, American Canyon and Oakland. Technology makes the world small and enables wineries from all over the world to hire a company from any country.
Usually there are two costs for a website, a monthly fee and a setup fee. The monthly fee for a website on Vin65 is $250.
The setup fee varies depending on the design and scope of the project. We have a range of options that start at $0 (templated designs and using your own web designer) and go up from there. A custom website design from Vin65 typically starts at $10,000.
We have a few other add-ons like the Facebook app ($50/mo), the Tasting Room iPad App ($50/mo) and the new iPad POS (starting at $100/mo).
You can find all of our pricing options online on the Vin65 website.
Mobile POS systems are like having a cash register, or a website ecommerce checkout, anywhere. These may be particularly helpful for wineries without a tasting room to enables sales of products at tastings and dinners. But existing wineries with busy tasting rooms also benefit from a mobile check out system for over-flow or off-site events.
The key functionality to look for with these mobile systems is the synching with your customer / product database, and the ability to set up different inventory areas to keep your compliance and accounting manager happy.
Do you have a question for us? Just ask by posting a comment below.
Why? Because the biggest barrier to a sale is procrastination. This can either be for a tangible reason ("let me see if I can find it cheaper somewhere else before I buy") or an emotional reason ("I want to but I really should cut back").
Sales are a great procrastination buster, but used too often, these can both devalue your wine, and train your customers to wait for when the prices go low. It is best to arm yourself with a variety of scarcity tactics in your arsenal and rotate them to keep your customers buying and your marketing fresh.
While most often used for Wine Club Members, a savvy marketer can get creative with this idea. Why not offer those attending an event a special bottling of the wine they tasted? Or segment out a group in a certain geography and give them a set-shipping offer. Many wineries create entire blends, formats or merchandise just for a customer segment. This not only creates loyalty but drives sales as well.
Here, the winery has created a category in the store just for wine members' wines. These wines are not shown in the general store page, and are only set up in the back-end to be sold to club members.
If you are tied to an inventory system, this is a handy way to show the dwindling quantities during a set sales period. The cautions here are to make sure it is accurate, because otherwise your customers will feel lied to. Also, only use it in truly low numbers. Remember 50 cases may seem low to a winery that produced 20,000, but for a customer that drinks a bottle a week, 50 cases may seem like a huge amount of wine and you may lose your urgency.
This discount retailer not only counts the bottles of wine left in inventory, but also employs a small animated .gif of a wine-hourglass dripping to create a sense of urgency.
Allocations are great when you have an established customer base and you need to manage distribution of your wines. You can ensure that everyone gets some, and it isn't being horded, or resold which could hurt your brand. Set these up thoughtfully with knowledge of your customer, and add in incentives to buy more if possible, as in the example below.
All sales have limits - either time or until supplies run out. But if you're creative, you can try a variety of pre-releases, library releases, sales windows, re-purchase club wines or other offers to see what resonates with your customers.
Here the winery combines several scarcity tactics. There is a time factor as the wine is a pre-release. This wine is also a wine club exclusive, so only members can log in to buy.
Limiting the quantity can be combined with a sales timeframe, or just always in place. Either way it is an effective nod to the scarcity of your wine.
In this example, a bundle has been created, and then a limit set on the number each customer can purchase. It is coded in the back-end of the website, but also explained to the customer about the purchase.
If you use a combination of the above, not only will your customers keep engaged, but over time you'll start to see which customer responds to which type of offer, and be able to target more effectively.
POS stands for Point of Sale – and Mobile POS is not having your customers or staff tied to a cash register. Apple has offered this convenience for its customers for a while, but now that mainstream retailers like Starbucks, Walmart, Target and Best Buy are in the mix, customers will stop seeing this as an oddity and expect it.
If that’s not enough of a reason to consider adding mobile POS to your bag of tricks for 2013, here are five more benefits:
The goal of any mobile POS is to make the purchasing process as easy and as "automatic" as possible for the consumer. A new study by Deloitte shows that by 2016, retail mobile shopping could account for up to 21% of that retailer's in-store sales. As technology is advancing, our patience is shrinking. Don't lose sales by forcing your consumers to wait in-line or at events.
Employees can do more with mobile tools, which makes them happy and lowers your labor costs. A tasting room employee, for example, can save considerable legwork with fewer trips behind the bar or cash register. In general, mobile POS systems are increasingly decentralizing the actual point at which sales take place, minimizing wasted time and eliminating unnecessary paperwork. According to a recent RIS Survey, “The Mobile POS Effect”, 21.4 percent of retailers plan to remove five or more traditional fixed station POS units per store and replace them with mobile POS and 55.2 percent of retailers have plans to deploy one or two mobile POS devices per store immediately.
Standards vary by industry, but it is estimated that between .5 - 3% of all customer data entered is inaccurate. That's costing you sales. But, with mobile POS you eliminate the need for written shipping or event orders. So, accuracy is increased and customers enjoy faster and error-free detailed receipts on the spot. Furthermore, when using a single customer database, you avoid duplicate records, and provide your staff a full view of the customer profile (such as life-time value, favorite products and club memberships) to assist in customer service.
Look for an integrated mobile POS system that delivers one product/order/customer database between POS, website, Facebook app, mobile site, and iPad tasting room app. In this way you can sell wine out of one inventory and pick it up from another, reducing the need for hand-written inventory transfers. It is also important to ensure the database is secure and PCI compliant, so with one swipe, a credit card number is encrypted and stored. With an integrated and secure database, sales reporting (including sales by date, state, customer, category, SKU, sales detail reporting and sales graphs) are all in one database and easy to access.
But what does all this really mean for your customers? It means more time to spend with them, discussing your wine, showing them your winery, or meeting their friends. When the administrative and sales tasks are automated for your employees – more sales and happier customers will result.
So make 2013 the year of Mobile POS for your winery. Click here to find out more about the Vin65 iPad Point-of-Sale System.
Thanksgiving is three weeks away.
I’ll say that again, Thanksgiving is only three weeks away. While you’re working through your holiday promotions, special offers, and gift offerings, let’s take some time and look at these offerings through your customer’s eyes. The best way to do this is to become one.
Browse, research, and review your product list pages and product detail pages. What changes and additions would your customers find helpful in making purchasing decisions? I suggest reading 6.5 easy fixes to the wine list page and 5 tips to effective ecommerce merchandising for some helpful tips.
Another idea is to add an up-front shipping widget to display shipping costs, or even better, offer a holiday shipping promotion.
(Example: Castello di Amarosa's shipping widget)
Place an order completely through your checkout process. Look objectively for any barriers. For example, ensure your calls to actions and buttons guide the checkout process. We tout button color contrast, but placement matters as well.
Finally, review the complete process of fulfillment, shipment, and delivery. Send a gift of wine to a client or a friend, and ask them about their experience.
Have a few packages sent to your home and analyze the experience. Did you get an order confirmation, look at order tracking, was the order shipped in time? How does the experience on your site compare with ones from Amazon, Zappos, or Apple? It will be the one of the rare times you can call shopping at work legit.
You’ve made product updates, a few small changes to your order process, and analyzed other purchase processes, now what?
Are there any ideas I missed? Feel free to post some below.
Is your wine ecommerce site ready to go at it again this holiday season?
Aside from prepping for the ugly Christmas sweater parties you’ll attend this season, it’s also time to prep your website for another big online shopping season.
Here are 5 tips to help you spruce up your wine ecommerce site for the holidays.
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less (according to kissmetrics.com). The biggest turn off for visitors is slow load times, people are impatient and this is especially so during the holiday season. Optimize images in the right file format, and talk to your designers/programmers about further ways to decrease your load time.
Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors, and the process it takes them to find your wine list page. If locating where to buy your wine is like playing a game of "Where’s Waldo?", chances are you're losing a large amount of holiday shoppers. Ensure it’s clearly labeled and easily found on your homepage navigation, like Tinhorn Creek's site below.
Fact: Over 15% of people visiting your website are on a mobile device and this number continues to climb. It’s time to get busy updating your mobile site (or get one if you haven’t already) since more customers this year will use their mobile devices to look up and purchase your wine.
What happens if your site doesn't offer gift cards, and visitors are not sure what kind of wine their Auntie Bonnie prefers? They'll leave. Gift cards provide indecisive customers with an easy option and make for great last minute gifts. Plus, as an added bonus, you'll bring in some new customers.
Clearly show your promotions on the homepage and throughout the site. It is also the time to test and ensure your holiday promos are running smoothly on your ecommerce site. Run a few orders through your system. Are your promos working properly? Are they giving you the correct sales price?
Side tip: all of our internal testing show that shipping promotions outperform discounted products.
Another side tip: show personality and get in the season with some holiday graphics for your site. As you can see below, Bath & Body Works' site is already looking festive.
Were there any ideas I missed that can help maximize sales during the holiday buying season? Feel free to post your ideas below.
It’s nice to get a little public shout out for all the hard work that you put into making your wine. While media reviews and PR articles are awesome at getting some attention, you want the very people trying and buying your wine to be talking publicly about it. And for good reason, according to iPerceptions, 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has product reviews.
There are many great reasons why you should include reviews on your site, but how can you get customers to actually physically click like buttons and type a wine review on your site?
Here are a few ideas.
Action email (trigger based email) is a great, automatic method to follow-up after purchase. In the email, politely ask customers to write a review and include the link to where they can review the wine, like this Old Navy example below.
In the follow up email, offer some sort of incentive if they write a review. You don’t want to come across that you’re bribing your customers for their endorsement, so instead of offering a discount on related products, consider an entry to win a prize, gift card or event tickets.
Monkey see monkey do - everyone is a follower and nobody likes to be the first to review something. If you include social networking widgets such as the Facebook like count on your list page, customers can easily see the popularity of your wine and be more inclined to write a review as seen here on winesthatrock.com.
Personally ask customers for reviews, be honest and tell them you’d love it they shared their experience with others, in order to help others make better decisions about purchasing your wine. Happy customers are almost always willing to oblige.
Tell your customers to review your wine. Capture their attention on your site by making use of call-outs and badges that say “Review this Wine” or “Tell us what you think.” Here's a creative call-out example from an Australian online store, Big Brown Box.
Give them a reason to review your wine, with interesting unique selling propositions, new wine releases, or something that could spark discussion/debate.
Ensure customers can easily see where to rate and review your products and ensure that it can be done within a few clicks.
While you may have included reviews and social media widgets on your site, is it really driving interaction? Consider some of these ideas to bump up conversion and allow your customers to interact with your products.
Were there any ideas that I missed? What review-gathering method(s) have worked best for you so far? Don’t be shy, leave your comments below.
Previous posts on customer reviews:
Krista shared an excellent post last week about 6.5 Easy Fixes for a Better Wine List Page.
In my opinion, the most important tip is easily the first one about using quality pictures. With that in mind, here’s a designer's take on what makes for an awesome bottle shot.
What makes a great bottle shot?
Send your best bottles to get the best photos. Look for imperfections in the glass, cap or foil, and make sure the labels are applied straight. Any blemishes can be cleaned up by a professional in Photoshop, but keep in mind that post-production can get expensive.
Proper color, contrast and brightness can make the difference between an ok and a great photo. Are colors realistic? Is the color contrast vibrant or does it look washed out? Are the highlights and shadows accurate? Does the color reflect the wine properly?
Your customers want to get to know you, but they don’t want to see you (or your photographer) in the bottle’s reflection.
Lighting is important in photography, and seeing multiple lamps and bright spots reflecting in a bottle shot is not ideal.Photographers use an assortment of lights, lamps, shades, reflectors, and umbrellas to get lighting just right.
Some winery websites are in need of a photo clipping overhaul. Have somebody on your marketing team (or a pro) clip around the white box or background in the bottle shot, unless your site design has a white background.
Use the largest resolution possible without compromising on the photo’s quality. Large photos look amazing on product detail pages, but ensure they’re optimized so the page loads quickly (Reduce image sizes using Photoshop, or a free program like Smushit). Avoid pixelation when resizing images. Start from the highest quality image and resize downward, never do the reverse.
There are many sites using exceptional bottle shots taken by a professional photographer. Here are few that we’d like to mention.
It’s important to have awesome looking bottle shots. You’ll make a good first impression, boost customer confidence, and support marketing efforts outside ecommerce, such as print collateral, advertising, and signage.
If you’d like to share some of the photos you’ve seen on wesbites, go ahead and share the link in the comments or share the photos on our Facebook page.
The wine list page – It’s the page that shows a series of wines that your website visitors commonly see before they click to learn more about a specific wine.
How can you get visitors on this page interested enough to buy your wine?
Below are 6.5 easy conversion-helping tweaks you can make to your wine list page.
Online visitors can’t physically touch your products, so enticing them with a bottle shot is crucial. People like to see what they are purchasing. Show good quality, professional pictures of your wine bottles. Showing no images, low-resolution images or wine labels loses attention quickly which hurts conversion.
It’s a title for a reason; make it stand out. Choose a larger font size, make it bold, ensure the title is descriptive of the wine, and link it to further product detail. There are too many sites where the product title is lost in a sea of unnoticeable and blah looking text.
Pique your visitors’ interest and curiosity with a quick and catchy product teaser so they’re compelled to learn more about your wine. For example, you can tease visitors with a proactive question then follow it with a quick statement that reveals limited yet important info.
Tell your visitors what you want them to do with a clear call to action. Make it obvious; otherwise, they’ll never know what to do or where to click. Whether it’s to take advantage of a special offer or discount, ensure you’re clearly encouraging the action.
The “add to cart” button is a convenient button that's great for your repeat customers, who just want to get in, buy wine and get out. Make it noticeable.
When a customer sees a bottle of wine that has a 5 out of 5 star rating and boat loads of positive reviews and recommendations, chances are, other customers will be more inclined to purchase.
This is where the 0.5 comes in. Similar to reviews and ratings, if your wine has social proof (511 Facebook likes, for example) it can help to build trust and drive conversion. Plus, your biggest fans can easily spread the word about how much they adore your delicious wine.
Have you made any little changes (similar to these examples or not) on your wine list page that helped with your online sales?
Go ahead and share your comments below.
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