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.
At Vin65 we see a lot of data from transactions, we’ve done a lot of experiments and we’ve seen some interesting results. For example:
We’ve focused on analytics, A/B tests, and we look at BI tools to track data and improve tools and while this data is good, we don’t believe this it is good enough.
Today we are starting a whole new class of experiments are excited about learning a lot in completely different ways. Rather than looking at just the data, we’re going to start experiments with conversations consumers with each other and wineries.
I wish I could say linking a consumer’s social and ecommerce profiles together results in ‘X’ – but we are just in the beginning phase. Let me tell you what I believe and what we experimenting with.
Knowing and understanding your consumers and acting on that data is what creates exceptional companies and I believe that the best way to know your customer is to have conversations with them. Knowing the POS and ecommerce data is not enough. Just like peanut butter and jelly, I believe that ecommerce data combined with social data is a perfect match.
Imagine knowing that club members that are Facebook fan last 5 months longer than those who are not fans. Would that change the way you promote you Facebook page and how you use Facebook’s tools? What if you were instantly notified if your that a few people Tweeting you were your top consumers were reaching out on Tweeter. Would you engage them in a conversation?
At Vin65 the primary goal of this blog is education (how to sell the most wine online) for our customers and the wine industry as a whole. We also don’t like to talk about tools we are building. I realize I hijacked it – but I did want to lay out a vision of a few things we see in the future.
At Vin65 we've partner with VinTank (the leading wine social media management company) and we’ve created a bi-direction integration linking social customers in VinTank with ecommerce customers in Vin65.
Inside VinTank - The next time someone is talking about you, the next time your looking at social conversations, you can see that persons lifetime value, club memberships, Vin65 contact type, etc.
Inside Vin65 - Your can use the list builder to segment on customers social, look at individual customers and see their social profile.
This is going to allow for a lot of great data meshing. I’m sure you, our customer, will drive a lot of what is to come.
I would invite you to watch a video and learn more about our bi-direction integration with Vintank or request a demo.
I’d also love to hear what you would like to see with the meshing of social and ecommerce data. What would help you sell more wine?
Or in this case, believed. For years, CEOs and CFOs have been asking "what is the value of Social Media?" And those of us who believed in it, argued the necessity of "connecting" with our customers. But, July marks the seventh birthday of the launch of Twitter (and, Facebook is now 9), so we really can't call this a "new" channel. Let's refer to some real-world metrics, shall we?
The Q1 2013 research from Monetate provides some interesting facts to share with the C-levels looking for real numbers.
The chart above shows the share of social media referrals for eCommerce sites in the study.* Facebook is still the king when it comes to driving traffic to websites for sales, but Twitter is the new Queen and making some impressive gains. This is likely to Twitter growing up as a medium and less of a novelty. As companies see the importance, there is demand for more sophisticated tracking and qualified conversations are the result.
So, traffic is nice, to be sure, but what you want are sales. The chart above shows that we all shouldn't abandon SEO or SEM for sure, but Social channels are creeping up. And, again, if you want to sell wine, use Facebook. Eventually Pinterest could potentially be a real player, too.
Don't throw away those email addresses yet - email is still the best referrer to add-to-cart actions. And, depending on the research you read, consumers report a 60-74% preference toward emails as the channel for marketing. So, having smart email segmentation, landing pages and integrated programs still apply.
You care about this because you can use this data to benchmark your own site and see where to focus your marketing efforts.
*The data is based 500 million visits amongst their clients who include Ecommerce brands such as Best Buy, Frontier Airlines, Aeropostale, The Sports Authority, and PETCO.
The Vin65 Direct-to-Consumer Roadshow has kicked off with the first event launching in Paso Robles today. Future events to be held in Mendocino and Calaveras County (and if you want us to come to your area please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here is the content delivered today:
We aren't really retail guys, we are software guys and truthfully you know a lot more about retail than we do, but here is what we did.
On May 25th, the Vin65 team set out to eating our own dog food (aka Dogfooding) and drove four hours to the heart of wine country in Canada to see the iPad POS in action, learn from our customers/end consumer, and drink some wine.
The iPad POS was built to give wineries the ability to take payments anywhere. It was meant to get the staff out from behind the tasting bar and the stationary computer and connecting with the consumer.
Andrew, Karson, and I called Tinhorn Creek and asked if we could simply shadow their staff using the iPad POS to learn from how they used it and see way it could improve. Instead, they wanted us on the front line and put us to work at their event selling shirts, cork screws, bags, and wine tastings armed with the two iPads with swipers and a cash box.
The event was called the Half Corked Marathon – picture a ½ marathon, drinking wine at over 15 wineries, and ridiculous costumes. Seeing the POS in action (at an outside event on a 3G connection) was perfect. We had lots of feedback from consumers and our client.
A huge part of what the POS was designed for was to be mobile. This means getting out from behind the tasting bar and walking around with customers. At this event the two iPads were on a fairly stable 3G data connection but we also tested it on a personal hotspot from our phones. Testing this was important because wineries should be able to take orders at a farmer’s market, a club party, concerts, etc. which likely don't have wifi.
When you’re taking orders with the person standing in front of you, you need the system to be quick. We found that the overall experience was good but saw several key areas to make this even better:
The speed varies depending on your wifi/data connection, so it’s good to test the POS at the location so you have a good connection. We were at a park on 3G with 3 to 4 bars.
We were surprised at the reaction from consumers when (a)we could take credit cards in the middle of a park, and (b)when they we happy to give up email addresses to get a receipt emailed to them.
Just imagine Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory trying to sell shirts – needless to say it was entertaining. It might have been all the wine everyone else was drinking, but after a while we seemed to get the hang of it and upsold a few clients on some cork screws. These are perfect consumers to have in your database. You know they like wine and they went out of their way to run a ½ marathon for it, so:
They're free, easy to set up, and tell you everything you need to know about how your website is performing.
But, they also encompass a confusing array of data, can be time-consuming to set up, and involve a dictionary of Google-speak. (What is a visit versus a pageview anyway?)
Don't worry if you don't have hours to dive into this. Here are three key stats to look at to see if your site is on track at the highest level.
The percentage of website traffic coming from mobile devices jumped from 17.5% in Q3 2012 to 23.1% in Q4 2012, according to a new report from Walker Sands. On the Vin65 platform, our clients average about 17%. To find out what yours is:
Implication? This example shows a smaller viewership - only 4.4% are on mobile. But if you are one of the wineries where 1 out of every 5 of your customers are on a mobile device, you better make sure that your mobile site and cart are optimized or you could be losing valuable sales.
To take this a step further, drill down to remove iPads. Why? Because iPads are "mobile" in the Google Analytics world but tend to use computer monitor resolution. So if you're trying to see if you need to redesign your site for the small screen, this is important.
To do this:
Did you know that things like static home pages and flash movies can stop up to 95% of your traffic on your home page? One of the cooler visual stats in Google Analytics is the Visitors Flow view. To access this area:
Implication? This example isn't too bad - but 20% of all traffic that started on this home page left. What are your numbers? You could be working hard to drive traffic to your site, and then traffic leaves after the first page. So, either your visitors are finding what they want right away...or or you've lost them.
Many of us spend large amounts of time worrying about Social Media. But is it doing anything for your business? Here is one of the simplist ways to answer that question.
Implication? You can see if the work that you're spending on various Social Media channels is driving traffic to your site, and then adjust accordingly. This is the tip of the iceberg in the Social Arena, to be sure. In this example there are also conversion goals attached to the shopping cart, and you can put specific Social urls in here as well. But at a high level, this will tell you if you're making an impact.
So, don't be afraid, dive in to these, and more Google Analytics, and keep your site on track working hard toward your goals.
Driven by sustainability and customer service, large retailers like Macy's, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap all now offer consumers the option to have their receipts emailed to them. In fact, a third (35%) of retailers offer digital receipts, and half of them do so at all their stores, according to a survey of 3,900 retailers released in 2012 by marketing firm Epsilon. Is your tasting room taking a cue from this growing "green" trend? This might be a great time to implement a reciept, or follow-up for a tasting room visit before the busy summer season. Say "thank you for visiting" and watch them come back!
If you think follow-ups are creepy, get over it. There may be many reasons a customer would start to purchase something in your eCommerce cart and then stop. The phone could ring, maybe they didn't have the credit card handy, or they got sidetracked. A polite quick email touching base with this lost customer can be appreciated. Numerous studies have now showed the effectiveness of this practice when done thoughtfully, quickly and helpfully. Chief Marketer reported about a test that Movies Unlimited performed which including the title of the movie left in the shopping cart and an offer. Their test resulted in a 13% conversion rate on the follow-ups, and these sales contributed 10% of all future sales. That kind of a lift in sales is not bad at all for an automated email!
Every customer wants to feel appreciated. After all, the ultimate gift a customer can give you is approval to charge their credit card periodically and send them wine. So, don't you think a "Thank You" is in order? Whether they sign up in the tasting room, on the phone, or online, you can acknowledge the fact that they put their trust in your and gave you a standing order for wine. Combine this welcome email with an offer or introductory combination of wine or merchandise and you can make them feel appreciated, and reap the sales benefits as well. Then follow up with a thoughtful recontact strategy in email and you've got a customer for life.
One thing technology allows us to do is keep track of data. This includes key dates, like birthdays and club sign-up anniversaries. These are great opportunities to let your customers know you appreciate them, and provide them with a special offer to say "Thank You." You can get creative with this as well. How about reminding them of the last time they visited, or the fact that they purchased their holiday wine at this time last year. If you think about it, there could be lots of milestones you could use to encourage repeat purchases. It is automated, easy to set up in the system, and if done correctly can be very thoughtful and appreciated by your customers as well.
This is always a hot button before club processing time. While phone calls are usually necessary for the stragglers, why not initially start with setting up an automatic email alerting customers 60, 30 or 10 days out that their card is about ready to expire. You won't get everyone, but if you can decrease the phone call load, isn't it worth it?
These are just some instances where a little set-up can save you some time, show your customers you care, and maybe increase your sales.
For more information on setting up Action Emails, see our documentation site.
Guest post by Susan DeMatei - Susan is the owner of Wine Glass Marketing, a consulting firm specializing in Direct Marketing for wineries. She is the winner of a Direct Marketing Association Achievement Award, a Certified Sommelier, a Certified Specialist in Wine and has over 20 year's experience in Direct Marketing in the luxury digital arena. You can read her blog at wineglassmarketing.com/blog.
I can't remember the last time I used cash, can you? It seems that everything you buy from anyone can be handled with your credit card, or your phone. No where was this more apparent to me than at the local Alameda flea market this past weekend.
For those of you who haven't been there, this is a monthly massive event of hundreds of vendors that take over the port of Oakland and sell everything from bobby pins to bobbleheads. It is a delightful way to spend a Sunday.
While some are full-fledged antique dealers and furniture restoration houses worthy of their own show on HGTV, many are just small mom-and pop shops or artists with "day jobs" who do this once-a-month as a hobby. So, I was struck by the sophistication of the payment methods.
Gone were the cash-boxes and grasping for change. Nearly everyone was advertising mobile banking - credit cards, sign up for mailing lists and square requests were everywhere. I have seen the same at my local farmer's market (I wish it would warm up already - I miss those!) And, I went to grab a beer on the way home, and the waitress had a hand-held POS system on her phone.
So, why is it in the wine industry we are slow to adapt to what these Sunday vendors have already adopted. Here's some theories:
Many wineries have "legacy" systems, or other systems that work in tasting rooms, inventory, or customer records. When performing a transaction outside the normal constructs of the tasting room, it is important to take these needs into consideration, or else you are going to need to re-enter or upload the mobile transaction data into the main system.
Make sure you mobile POS system of choice is integrated with one of two systems - either your stand alone POS system, like the one at the bar I mentioned, or your web system. If it connects to one of these, your data is merged and customer records are free of duplicates.
Selling a vintage doll buggy or bushel of zucchini is different than selling wine. Frustrating as it is, we are beholden to laws, taxes and volume restrictions not monitored by other vendors. While sliding a card through a reader seems easy enough to set up, remember that these purchases need to go through your accounting system and be recorded.
Check with your accounting or compliance manager on what you need to report. Make sure your mobile POS system of choice is either integrated with your reporting system, like Ship Compliant, or can provide the reports that are necessary. Otherwise, it is probably not worth the hassle.
An often over-looked part of remote transaction is the data capture. A simple slide of the Square may be awesome at the time, but if you can't track that sale back to a customer for future recontact, you're losing marketing possibilities. In the wine industry, this is multiplied when customers ask you to hold shipments until they're back from vacation, or sign up for a club, or change shipping destination. There are many conversations that happen out on the selling floor that should be captured along with that transaction data.
Look beyond a simple mobile POS to one that not only offers the fields you need to take the notes necessary for your business, but also is easily operated by tasting room staff. (And, often the tasting room staff that you hire to work busy events when mobile systems are necessary are part-timers or temps, making it necessary to be extremely intuitive.)
So, go forth and sell - in the tasting room, vineyard or crushpad. But be smart about it by ensuring that your accounting, compliance and customer data systems are integrated and happy with your mobile POS choice.
Are you using your website to the best of it's ability to capture and grow your database? If you monitor Google Analytics, you'll see the % of new visitors to your site - that is a large group of potential new customers to add to your mailing list.
Furthermore, these new visitors that come to your site via search or SEO are high-quality potential customer. Search-engine optimization (SEO - bringing people to your site who are searching in search engines like Google) is the digital marketing channel with the biggest impact on lead generation for both B2B and B2C companies, according to the August 2012 survey results from Webmarketing123.
59% of B2B marketers said SEO has the biggest impact on their lead generation goals, with social media (21%) and pay-per-click (PPC – 20%) trailing distantly. Their B2C counterparts also ranked SEO (49%) first for impact on lead generation, followed by PPC (26%) and social media (25%).
So, are you doing everything you can to capture them? Here are some ideas:
Gone are the brochure-website days of the 1990's where a home page was a static picture of your logo, winery, or product. Such "billboards" require someone to click a top navigation to get to any information. Assuming a large percentage of visitors are new to you, why not have your sign-up right on your home page? Or, on a universal side-bar?
A 2012 study by Adsense indicated we all process information differently. 47% of web surfers polled indicated they always clicked on text, 18% said they always clicked on graphics, and 35% of us click on either/both depending on the page layout and information.
The implication? Have a linking graphic picture asking for newsletter sign up, then have a text link next to it. (And, you can have it in your navigation as well.)
The shopping cart is an ideal place to continue to the dialog with customers. Providing them opportunities to sign up to different mailing lists not only gives you segmentation opportunities to improve your communication, but shows you care about their interests.
Don't interrupt them when they are completing the transaction, but after the transaction, ask they their preference. In the Vin65 system, this is an option, that when turned on, will provide customers the option during confirmation after check-out to sign up for your mailling lists.
There are many other ways to capture visitors to your site to add to your mailing list. What are your favorites?
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.
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