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.
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.
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.
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