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.
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.
Whether it's picking up a loaf of bread or a silk scarf for Grandma, merchandisers think carefully about how you navigate in store and what will grab your attention. Merchandising has been effective for so long in retail, yet it hasn’t really come to a lot of winery websites. Just like going to a retail store, the way your online list page looks and flows is just as important.
On your winery website, how you merchandise ultimately makes for an easier, quicker and more pleasant shopping experience for your customers.
With so much choice available, retail merchandisers use call-outs as a way to grab attention in the aisles. The same attention-grabbing addition can be made on your winery website to make it easier for customers to see featured products.
Retail merchandisers use end aisles and alternate product displays to call attention to certain products. Consistency is great, but having alternative product layouts on the same page can capture attention and it works well to highlight particular products.
Have multiple tiers of wine? Show all your wines on one page, but group them into the tiers using colors, or alternate layout. Grouping products really draws attention to each tier of wine.
Modern clothing retailers (like Gap.com) have used Quick View as a way to expose product detail without a visitor leaving the actual shopping page. If you have a lot of wines on a page, and the customer is likely to navigate between several wines, a quick view feature allows your customers to see more product detail without leaving the list page.
Image 1 - Quick View rollover
Image 2 - Quick View feature
Wine is the perfect gift. If you're looking for a way to guide your customers through gifting wine, a custom gift set (such as the one suggested below) lets your customers easily customize a gift.
These small customization features (which are fast becoming standard in other industries) provide extra value to your customers and can help boost sales.
Remember, visitors to your site need to be wooed by a great, attention-grabbing user experience, that way they'll come back again.
Have you seen some great examples of merchandising on the web? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Guest post by Susan DeMatei - Susan is the owner of Vinalytic, 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 vinalytic.com/blog.
So you got your website live and your products are up to date. If you’re like most wineries, the day-to-day business, tasting room, wine club shipments and email offers fill your schedule. Maybe you get time to post on Facebook or send out a tweet or two.
Who has time to monitor their website and look at metrics?
Well, chances are the Vin65 team set up Google Analytics on your site. This will show you the metrics you need to be concerned with and how to set up a quick dashboard to see how you’re doing every month.
Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that provides you with endless, valuable information about your website and your visitors. As of April 6th, BuiltWith reported that it knows of 15,429,942 sites using Google Analytics, and that includes more than 60 percent of the top 10,000 sites (as measured by Quantcast, Alexa and other sources) and just about 60 percent of the top 100,000 sites.
So you’re in good company. But the amount of data is overwhelming! Well here is a cheat sheet for the top metrics to look for and a short description of why each is essential.
This is the first statistic you’ll want to look at in your dashboard. You care about it because it is your baseline and what you calculate your conversion rates on. This is how many individual visitors came to your site on a monthly basis. Unique visitors tell you how many real people came to your website whereas Total Visitors can include repeats and bots (computers scanning the web).
Your Unique Visitors should go up and down based on any emails, or other marketing campaigns you’re running. If you compare your Unique Visitors to your website sales you will get an idea of how well your website converts visitors to buyers.
The bounce rate shows you how many people came to your site and immediately leave. This is not a good thing. Think of this as your electronic “BS” meter. If you’re promising something in a link, or email, or blog and then what is experienced when the customer arrives on your site is disappointing – they “bounce.”
What you’ll want to do is compare your bounce rate with your traffic efforts to see how your credibility is trending. Ideally you will want to increase your unique visitors without increasing your bounce rate. Although it varies greatly, you usually want to see your bounce rate in the 30-40% range. Any more than that, customers are feeling “teased” and aren’t finding the content they thought they would.
How are people finding your winery website, anyway? Good news! There is an entire tab that will show you how people got to your site. To me, this is the most interesting area of Google Analytics. What I find most interesting is the % of Referral, Direct and Search traffic. This will decipher between your existing customer database (that probably knows you and is clicking on your emails) and new customers coming from partners, or a search query.
There are many other things you can see in Google Analytics, like path analysis, where people enter and exit your site, track sales and you can even email the most important metrics to yourself on a periodic basis. But, if you only have a couple minutes a month – these are the three metrics you want to look at.
One thing you (or your management) might find helpful is a quick dashboard of metrics every month. Here is an example of something that might be helpful for you that doesn’t take long to prepare but will provide you with great insight into your online activities.
What you want to pay attention to is the trending. So, in our example above, the business has certainly grown from 2006 to 2007, but the % is not hugely different. We’re still converting about 25% of our traffic to sales, at about 7 bottles a sale. And while the Club sign-ups increased, the Average Order Value went way down. What happened? Did we discount? Introduce a new, cheaper wine into the mix? These are things this dashboard can point out to us.
So, with a combination of the data in Vin65 and Google Analytics, you can really start to see where your business is going. And, with a couple key metrics and some quick entry into an excel sheet – you to can be a metrics wizard!
Have you tried Google Analytics yet? Share your helpful tips or feel free to leave your comments below.
Action emails – they’re the bigger, more independent brother to regular mass emails. With an open rate that is more than double regular mass email, this is an awesome email marketing tool that will help you maintain relationships and connect with new customers. Plus, you’ll likely see some positive conversion rates.
Also known as trigger emails, action emails are a pre-written set of messages that are sent based on an event or triggered action your customer takes, (orders for the first time, repeat purchase, abandons a shopping cart, credit card expiring, etc).
Here’s how it generally works:
Let’s say, for example, you’d like to send out a thank you message to first-time purchasers and ask them what they thought of the wine.
Now that you’re in the loop, below are some best practices to consider before you create an action email campaign.
Think through what you would like to achieve with each action email campaign. Most systems have preset triggers like type of order placed, credit card expiry, anniversary dates, etc.
If your brand was a person, what would they sound/act like? It’s unlikely that people will read an email if it sounds like it came from a robot and/or a professor of quantum physics.
Focus on interesting content that’s relevant to individual groups. For example, first-time purchasers should be enticed to place their second order, whereas club members may be interested in club discounts and wine reviews. You want to engage readers without them feeling like that they’re being pressured to purchase anything.
Think about your layout and design. If it looks like one of those “Win a FREE Trip to Mexico” emails, it’s time to reevaluate your look.
The first thing that your readers will see is the subject line. If it’s confusing or irrelevant, the more likely it’ll be ignored.
Remember, it's a trigger not a steady stream. Space out your action emails. Although they are automatic, ensure you check-in regularly and make sure you are not over-sending.
Questions or comments? Don’t be shy; feel free to leave them below.
Below are the slides from my presentation at the Southern Oregon Wine Marketing and Sales Conference on the “Basics of Customer Relationship Management.”
Feel free to check them out.
I’d like to give a special thanks to Paul Mabray and Susan DeMatei for lending me some of the content on the slides (and also being so passionate about CRM – I love bouncing ideas off of you guys).
Also, thanks to Susan DeMatei, Melissa Dobson, Krista Hesketh and my wife for working over the weekend (they assisted with proofing and ensured the final slides looked great).
Feel free to post any questions or comments below (or send an email directly to me).
If you haven't heard the news... WineDirect has acquired Vin65.
There is a lot of emotion when making a decision like this - and the decision certainly wasn't easy. Here is a look at why I sold and how it might affect you.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say money played a large role. The financial incentive was attractive. Having said that there is a lot I like about the current WineDirect team and I'm going to give 100% there. Yes, there have been some issues in the past with WineDirect, but the last couple of years the new management (under Joe Waechter's direction) has done a good job of turning that around.
I've spent a lot of time with Joe Waechter. From regular phone calls to having him as guest speaker at our employee retreat, his experience growing DHL and other companies has been instrumental in guiding me the last couple of years as Vin65 experienced some large growth.
Some may question why WineDirect and Vin65 should be together (and Vin65 will continue to work with all of the wine fulfillment houses). Joe and I both see a future in Direct-to-Consumer wine sales. We argue about some of it, but we both agree that DTC is growing in importance and we have the same vision for the future.
I’m excited about DTC and that is a large part of this deal.
If you’re a Vin65 customer, it doesn't really affect you immediately. WineDirect is committed to letting Vin65 operate independently. It’s like Amazon and Zappos or like WineDirect and Call For Wine today. I’ll continue to be the President of Vin65 and I am keeping our core values.
Over time there will be changes. Vin65 started off with a handful of winery clients. We've acquired some enterprise clients, we took on the licensing of the IBG (now WineDirect) customers, and a lot of smaller wineries have signed up with Vin65. With each new staff member and each new client, Vin65 changes a little. Today with over 700 sites Vin65 is not the same company it was 4 years ago. In the future it’s going to continue to change.
I'm personally committed to fighting for our core values (and while WineDirect has some great values, I'll be pushing to keep ours). I'm personally committed to pushing the Vin65 platform further. The incremental change you see weekly on the platform will continue in the future. I'm excited about the long time staff I've had and I've worked hard to include them into the acquisition. I'm also excited about a lot of the new employees at Vin65 (the team is just awesome!). While I no longer get involved in every site that launches on our platform, I am committed to staying the course, to being innovative, and putting out a product that pushes DTC sales forward.
We have no major plans to change pricing, contracts, etc. All of our contracts are month to month and if we aren't servicing you correctly I'd ask that you personally contact me.
At Vin65 we have a great relationship with Copper Peak and we enjoy good relationships with WineShipping, Amedeo, Pack n Ship, Safe Haven, and other fulfillment houses. (Too many to mention here but we love you all). We also have great relationships with other wine vendors like Ship Compliant, Napa Valley POS, Oztera, KLH, Elypsis, and others.
We are going to work hard to maintain those relationships. Not every client is a great client for Wine Direct fulfillment, and we believe in choice. We are going to continue to work with other fulfillment companies (and we are hoping that PK still invites us to his house parties :) ).
I know that WineDirect fulfillment is going to continue to work with our competitors. There are no family exclusives here.
As for ecommerce, I've enjoyed the competition with eWinery, Nexternal and others. It's great to have competition in the space (and it makes for a better product for everyone). I know they will have a lot of comments about this acquisition. I hope that we continue to provide great competition for you.
I recognize that an acquisition like this brings questions. Feel free to comment below (commenting is wide open and will not be deleted unless they are spam or vulgar). Feel free to email me at email@example.com or call my personal cell phone at 604.613.5343.
Before I get to the answer - here is a quick recap...
From a previous blog post we know that Facebook drives a lot of traffic to winery websites. We also know that this traffic from Facebook is good traffic. We reasoned that we should bring the transaction closer to the customer and in October 2011 we launched Facebook commerce on the Vin65 platform. We also knew it was a bit experimental and therefore we haven't charged a monthly fee for it.
Over the last 5 months we've seen a lot of interesting movement on Facebook commerce. Two of our clients have more than 10% of their ecommerce sales on Facebook. Several of our winery clients are in the 4-5% range, but we also have a number of clients who have yet to get a sale on Facebook which might discourage some.
Facebook commerce is in its infancy and we are really at an experimental stage. When ecommerce was in its infancy there were a lot of successes and a lot of failures. Brands like Toys "R" Us launched their ecommerce store in 1999, only to close it down that same year and in 2000 partnered with Amazon. A few years later, that partnership ended and Toys "R" Us now has its own ecommerce store.
The same thing is happening today in Facebook commerce. There is currently a lot of trial, some success, some failure, and as we start to experiment with merging ecommerce and social platforms there is a lot of learning and a lot of opportunity, especially for small business.
It's still early and the verdict is still out, but here are a few things that do work.
Add value - Give your customer a reason to shop on Facebook. Duplicating your website store isn't an effective strategy. Use exclusivity, rewards, and engagement as ways to create value. For example reward your Facebook fans by selling your new release wine on Facebook a few days before having it go on sale on your website. Or have exclusive events or promos just for your Facebook fans. Makes your fans feel like they are VIPs.
Create great customer experiences - Just like your website and mobile site, the customer experience matters. The Facebook app real estate is tight (although it just got a lot better with the advent of timelines), so be mindful of the space. If the content is engaging, if the Facebook app is responsive, and if it's easy to use, it will be more effective. We know that on the web a better customer experience sells more wine - and we are sure this holds true on Facebook.
Do something different - It might fail, but it might also succeed. Because Facebook commerce is relatively young, customer expectations aren't that high. It's a great time to try something and learn. Be sure to measure and solicit feedback. Facebook is all about engagement and feedback.
Over the next few years as Facebook commerce matures (it's not going away) people will become accustomed to buying through Facebook, and companies will learn and optimize the experience. Until then it's a great time to play and learn new ways to effectively sell more wine online.
As an aside - here are a few articles worth reading:
EConsultancy - Can f-commerce work for retailers
Get Elastic - Is F-Commerce "Fail" Commerce?
EMarketing - Case Study: Heinz UK Fans Warm up to Facebook Personalization Campaign
What do you think? Have you bought anything on Facebook yet?
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