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.
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.
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.
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