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.
I was at Unified last week and I overheard a couple of people talking about ecommerce and one person asked another if they could really improve their conversion rate. (I didn't butt in, but I should have). I've written about how powerful a benchmark conversion rate is to a winery's ecommerce performance analytics.
What is conversion and conversion rate? Conversion is the process of taking online visitors and turning them into buyers. There are a number of ways conversion rate is calculated, but the two most common are: number of orders divided by the number of carts started (in which case conversion rates should be high) or it's calculated as the number of purchasers divided by the number of visitors (in which case the percentage will be a lot lower).
The number one objection to conversion optimization? "If a person really loves my wine will they not wade through our website and figure out how to buy it (no matter how bad the ecommerce experience is)?" Truthfully some of your best fans and your nicest relatives will but I won't. And lots of your customers won't. Why invite visitors to your wine ecommerce store after a great experience in the tasting room only to disappoint them with an aggravating ecommerce experience?
3 proven ways to increase conversion your conversion rate?
1) Remove the create account requirement at checkout. Unfortunately, we still see this all the time. (I saw it last week on a new Sonoma Wineries website - gorgeous website doing a lot of things right - but still asking for a password in the checkout). A visitor adds wine to their cart and then proceeds to the checkout. They want to give you their credit card - they don't want to create a unique username and password. Here's the proof that this is killing sales. (Link, link, or link)
2) Create a streamline checkout. A visitor adds wine to their cart - how fast can they check out? The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver proved that a one-screen streamlined checkout process will increase conversion.
3) Add consumer ratings and reviews to your wine? You're on Amazon.com. What sells better? A book with a great description and a review from the New York Times or a book with a great description, a review from the New York Times, and 10-30 regular customers sharing their personal thoughts on the book? Wine.com proved it in the wine industry. Having customers reviews on your site will sell more wine.
The right design and functionality will increase your conversion rate.
Below are the slides of my 15-20 minute presentation at Unified Wine & Grape Symposium on "Making Your Direct-To-Consumer" work.
It was great to be a panellist along with Quinton Jay (Bacchus Capital), Stacie Jacob (Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance), and Ray Johnson (Sonoma State University). I also want to thank Jeff Stai for organizing everything, moderating the panel, and inspiring me the night before to make my presentation better.
My particular segment was on customer conversion - something I'm fairly passionate about. Enjoy.
I believe the audio version of the presentation will be available for sale here soon. http://www.unifiedsymposium.org/audio.html
Feel free to post your questions or comments below (or send an email directly to me)
Here are the slides and an overview of my 7-10 minute presentation at DTC Wine Symposium on CRM Demystified. It was great to be a panelist along with Bronwyn Ney from Hall Wines and Susan Hanshaw from Innerarchitect. Also thanks to Mary-Colleen Tinney for organizing everything.
My particular piece was on customer segmentation.
Slide #1 - Intro
Slide #2 - Segmentation
Slide #3 - Why Segment?
Slide #4 - Why Segment?
There are a lot of reasons to segment, here are 3:
Slide #5 - How Do Enterprises Segment?
Enterprises segment on RFM. Recency, Frequency, and Monetary Value.
Recency - when was the last time this customer purchased?
Frequency - how often does this customer purchase?
Monetary Value - how much does this customer purchase?
Slide #6 - CaseStudy: WineTasting.com
A/B test from winetasting.com on a recent email targeting 'inactive' segement of their customers. (Inactive being customers who have not purchase in one year or more)
Slide #7-8 - CaseStudy: WineTasting.com
Custom tailored message outperformed regular message
Slide #9-11 - How can you segment your list?
Slide #12 - Key To Success
Don't just segment your list, but custom tailor the message to specific target audience.
Slide #13 - Thanks
Special thanks to WineTasting.com and Kristina Palko for letting us use this case study.
If you heard my talk, I would love your feedback. Either shoot me an email or leave it in the comments below.
It's fairly easy to pick apart websites and list everything that is being done wrong from an ecommerce perspective (and some of my recent posts have done that) but there are a lot of wineries and wine retailers that are doing it right (both on our platform, and on other platforms). Today as I was browsing through our portfolio, I wanted to highlight a few websites that are doing it right.
What I like about WineTasting.com:
What I like about TwistedOak.com:
What I like about CejaVineyards.com:
Site designed by BR Pacific
Pithy Wine gets it. Before we had an iPad app, they bought iPads for their tasting room and used their website on the iPad to collect visitor information.
What I like about PithyWine.com:
Site designed by Pithy Wine
What I like about InmanFamilyWines.com
Site designed by Sight Design
Over the last few years we have seen a lot of wineries and wine retailers increase their efforts on the web. There are a lot of great sites both on our platform and on other platforms. (If your site isn't listed above, it's not because I don't like it.) Keep raising the bar.
Its 2011, but a lot of websites I visit still feel like they are in 2008. So here it is, David Letterman style with Wayne's World graphic (for the really retro), the Top 10 Signs Your Winery Website is Stuck in 2008.
10. Your last blog post is dated 2008.
In 2008 you were so innovative that you jumped on the blogging band wagon. Blogging was everywhere and you wanted to take part. Unfortunately your enthusiasm died after about 8 blog posts.
If your blog hasn't been updated since 2008, it's time to remove the blog from your website.
9. Flash on the homepage with no alternative.
Flash animations used to be cool. What better way to express your story? Unfortunately, people got sick of flash intros and have turned flash off. People on the iPad can't see your flash. Mobile visitors usually don't have flash installed, nor do they want to wait for it to load.
8. You have birthdate validation on entry.
Birthdate validation on site entry is a visitor turn off (and consumers often enter false dates until they get to the checkout process).
There are so many reasons not to do birthdate validation on site entry that I could write a blog post on it - but consider this - the major wine retailers (wine.com, winelibrary.com, winetasting.com, etc) all don't have it and I know first hand the amount of testing that goes on at winetasting.com.
We do not condone selling alcohol to minors, and believe that birthdate validation should be done on checkout, and ID verification on package delivery.
7. Your product pages don't have your recent vintages and/or contain vintages you no longer have available.
There is nothing more frustrating than seeing out of date product content on a website. It's not only frustrating to customers; it also frustrates your distributors, trade people, and bloggers who all want current images and tasting notes.
6. You're not using a Content Management System
If you have to pay your web designer to update products and other content you are out of date (truthfully you were out of date in 2008 also). It's vitally important for you to be able to update your own content, and content management systems are very mature and pretty much a commodity.
5. Copyright notice still says 2008.
Your visitors know you stuck in 2008 when your copyright still says 2008. If your content is out of date and stale, people won't keep returning to your site.
4. Your heading text is images
The last few years have brought great technology for fonts on the web. It's important that your heading text be text rather than images - important for search engines, for bandwidth, and just for general ease of maintenance.
3. No customer ratings or reviews.
In 1999 Amazon stated that the 2.5 million reviews it featured are what made it popular. We've known for years that customer ratings and reviews help sell products. In 2009 Wine.com revealed that products with reviews sold more. If you don't have customer ratings and reviews, your site is 2008.
2. You have a splash page.
Splash pages were out in 2008 but I still see them. A splash page does nothing for you other than give a customer a reason to not visit your homepage.
1. No mention of social media anywhere
And the number one sign your website is stuck in 2008 - no mention of social media anywhere. The last couple of years we've seen a large uptick in social media activity. Facebook with over 500 million users is mainstream. If you don't at least have a Facebook link on your website, you might be stuck in 2008.
And to continue our Top 10 list, here are the Top 10 Signs Your Website Is Stuck In 1998 courtesy of my colleagues.
10. Your web address has the word geocities in it
9. Free hosting ads on your website
8. You have a 'make this your homepage' button on your website
7. You have a 'best viewed in Internet Explorer' button
6. Under construction page
5. Your neighbour’s high school son built your web page
4. The fixed width is designed for 800x600
3. Your site is built in frames
2. Auto playing music
1. Animated gif images
What signs have you seen that still point to 2008?
I was contemplating a geeked out blog post talking about some of the cool stuff we've learned at Vin65 in 2010 (some of us are learning new programming languages, others are spending time in HTML5, CSS3, iPad and mobile technologies, etc). Instead I opted for the non-geeky, somewhat more-directly-relevant to our customers, 5 Things We Learned in 2010.
At the end of 2009 we saw mobile traffic reach the 5% mark on some of our websites. At Vin65 we knew we had to do something to improve user experience while visiting websites from a mobile device so we created our mobile platform. Visit a site like www.twistedoak.com on your iPhone, Android Phone, or Blackberry Torch and you’ll be presented with our mobile experience.
Mobile visitors who visit a website with a mobile specific experience are far more engaged than mobile visitors on a traditional site. Mobile users spend more time on the mobile website, they visit more pages, they click through more often and they purchase more frequently, but none of this is really surprising.
What is surprising is this... while mobile traffic is now closing in on 10% of traffic on some sites, mobile sales aren’t 10% of total ecommerce sales. The number one thing mobile visitors do on the mobile winery site is view wine, and the number two thing is visit the ‘contact us’ page. (On a traditional site, the 'contact us' page will often be in the top 10 but never at the 2nd or 3rd spot).
Mobile visitors do buy on their mobile phones (we aren’t going to give away the numbers), but they are different than the regular visitor on traditional sites and most wine ecommerce sales are still done on the traditional site. This data is helping us identify new ways to engage mobile visitors.
2011 will be a big year to watch as smart phones continue to be more prominent, more websites start to embrace mobile traffic, and more customers start to use their smart phones for web surfing.
Wine ecommerce platforms are getting to a place where wineries and wine retailers now care more about customer support than additional features. Sure features matter, and we think we meet or exceed our competitors on features, but with all the great platforms available, customer support weighs heavily in the decision.
Customer support via video documentation, online training, live telephone support, responsive emails, etc. is what our customers and prospects care about the most.
As a side note, the online training done by Brent has really taken off. Be sure to check it out.
The iPad was one of the most exciting technologies for consumers in 2010. We saw some of our clients, more specifically Pithy Wines embrace it immediately (long before we had an iPad app). Pithy purchased a number of iPads and displayed their web page with a 'subscribe' form to engage with tasting room visitors.
The iPad was our number one product launch in 2010. (I knew it was going to be great, but we were overwhelmed with inquiries).
The iPad (and tablet technology) has the power to replace the traditional paper signup forms to really engage visitors and wineries have been quick to embrace it.
Wineries want more insight and a 360 degree view of their customers. Wineries want to know lifetime value, last order, most recent visit, etc. across channels. We are seeing real time integrations between systems like ours with POS systems. Other wine vendors are producing great CRM tools. (The dashboard analytics being produced by VingDirect this past year are amazing.)
I first heard the phrase 'actionable CRM' from Paul Mabray at VinTank. What wineries really need is the ability to act on the information they have. For example: A visitor enters a tasting room. How do you engage this customer - not just in this visit, but also in the future? Wineries are exploring the iPad, POS integration, and other tools that not only capture, but take action with these visitors.
On the web, we are seeing some clients really mine their data. Some of our clients chase abandoned carts. Some clients telemarket to their best customers. Some clients contact their good customers who have stopped buying. We are also seeing clients measuring the results from these CRM activities. 2010 was a great year to watch actionable CRM start to take root with wineries.
Social Media has been everywhere the past couple years. We are now seeing social ecommerce taking root (sites like Groupon, wineries selling wine on Facebook thru Cruvee). It’s been fun watching Deals from the Vines and other social type of sales. We also worked with WineTasting.com and some of their partners to do some social sales - with mixed results. In 2010 we saw social commerce start to take off and things are going to get even more innovative in 2011.
As a winery or wine retailer you should be watching the social space and starting to investigate social commerce.
2010 was a banner year for learning, not only for me personally but also for our team. In 2011 I’m sure we'll see improvements on all of these areas and we’ll continue to learn and bring those findings into strategies to enhance our platform.
What has been the #1 thing you learned in 2010?
It's pretty easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We become engrossed in our own jobs and forget the big picture.
I was talking with a potential client this week who was really concerned with POS and accounting integration for their winery website. This integration seemed to be the focus of the entire call. This surprised me because their website had almost no sales.
Shouldn’t the focus be on sales first and accounting integration second? Shouldn’t we talk about strategies for getting more people to buy from their site rather than discussing how we get data to accounting? (As an aside, Vin65 has first class integrations with Microsoft RMS, Quickbooks, and has great webservices for other POS systems to connect to.)
Another prospective client spent over an hour combing through our wine club processing tools. They are a great winery, but their club has less than 200 members.
Rather than focusing on club processing, shouldn’t the focus be on club growth and how the website could attract more club members? Rather than review how quickly a wine club can be processed, shouldn’t we be talking about reducing club attrition, and incentives for people to sign up for the club? (As another aside, Vin65 does have great club processing tools.)
The primary goals for a website should be to increase sales, increasing club memberships, build better relationships with customers, deliver better customer service, and promote the brand story. POS integration, wine club processing, and other details are important, but don’t let them bog you down.
PS. I’m happy to discuss POS integration and club processing with anyone, but I would much rather talk about increasing checkout, reducing cart friction and promoting club growth and other primary goals first.
As a consumer, I buy a lot online. I buy a lot of wine and I buy a lot of other goods. I enjoy going through websites not on the Vin65 platform and testing out their shopping experience. Even when the site has a terrible experience, I'll often wade through the hassle (and some sites make purchasing a huge hassle).
In the last couple of weeks, I've stopped just short of making a few purchases. The marketing email I received was enticing, but after clicking through to the website, the site failed to deliver.
This holiday season, if I come to your site, and I fail to purchase - here are a few reasons you may have lost me as a customer:
1. I won't buy because your site is non-functional or broken.
Make sure the links in the email work. Make sure the 'add to cart' works. If there is an error, show me a friendly error screen, don't show me a server error.
As an aside, this past week I was on a couple of websites with raw server errors - those are a major security risk. Ask your vendor to fix them or get a new vendor.
2) I won't buy because your site is painfully slow.
Speed sells. I don't want to wait and wait and wait for content to load. On one winery's site I had to wait 5-8 seconds for a page to load. It was a big turn off and was the reason I left the site. I intended to come back later to see if speed improved, but I didn't. Your customers will probably act the same way. Most vendors know that holiday traffic is heavier than regular traffic. People have less patience during the holidays - make your site faster.
3) I won't buy because your site looks ugly.
Maybe I'm shallow. Websites where everything is misaligned, ugly, from the stone age or has major browser compatibility issues typically indicate that the order, if placed, isn’t going to go well. People make snap judgments about who you are (often unconsciously) based on how your site looks. Make sure your website looks great.
I realize there are a lot of factors that stop customers from making a purchase (just peruse through our blog for more examples). I purposely called out these three issues because I experienced them all this week and they drove me away from purchasing wine.
During the holiday season, we often recommend that customers don't make large changes to their site. It's a busy time and you don't want to confuse customers. However, if your site has one or more of the problems above, I'd consider fixing it - especially if you want your customers to complete their purchase this holiday season.
This past summer, like summers before, our staff took a holiday together to the Okanagan Wine Region. We rented a van, had a designated driver, and toured a number of wineries before ending up at a house boat on the Shuswap.
Here's the thing. I know I bought a couple of cases of wine on the trip. I know I tasted some great wine. I know I had some great experiences in several tasting rooms. But now, three months later, not only can I not remember the specific wines I tasted, I can’t even remember all the tasting rooms I visited. I'm sure several tasting rooms handed me a paper sheet on the flight of wines I tried, but those are long gone too.
Tasting rooms are a great place for a winery to engage a visitor - but if you want to create a relationship with someone from out of town, you have to continue to reach out to visitors beyond the tasting room.
'Shameless Vin65 plug coming...'
Today we launched our Tasting Room iPad Application. iPads are fun... infectious in fact. So what if I pick up an iPad in the Tasting Room? What if I entered my email address, and as I tasted a flight of wine went through and rated each wine? I even "favorite" a couple. Afterwards, when I get home, I receive an email thanking me for my visit and reminding me of the wine I liked.
There are a lot of ways to engage the out of town visitor after you have their email address and some knowledge of the wines they like. From a simple email thanking them for their visit, to an email "Remember the wine you marked as 5 star - we have it on sale", are both great customer service and sales strategies.
The iPad isn't a replacement for tasting room staff (technology will never replace the personal experience), but it is a tool to assist in building the valuable relationship with your customers to increase your profits.
You can read more about what we are doing here and here. You can check out what another Napa entrepreneur, Winergy Inc is doing here. (Great minds think alike). Our iPad application is available today whether you're a Vin65 client, IBG eCommerce client, or a winery or wine retailer on another platform.
If you have a chance, we would love to know your thoughts on the iPad in the tasting room. Leave a comment below or send me an email.
One of the first steps in building a website is looking at the functional requirements. Not all of these features are required for every winery, but here is my quick top 10 list of features a general winery website needs to make it successful.
10. Mobile Version
5% of today's traffic is mobile. This is growing more and more. We are starting to have great web experiences on mobile smart phones (including the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry Torch, and now the WP7 phones). Example: Cuvaison (click link from an iPhone or Android device).
9. Store Locator
Not everyone wants to pay the high shipping costs and wait for your wine. Let your customers find which local retailers stock your product. (I know the data can be hard to come by, but others are doing it). Example: Wines That Rock - check out the google maps.
8. Calendar/List of Events
Visitors love seeing what is happening at your winery. Add a calendar or a list of upcoming events. Make sure the calendar is up to date - or better yet, work with a website system that provides a true calendar that won't show stale information. Example: Pithy Wine.
7. Social Media
Social media is no longer a fad. 500 million users on FaceBook makes it main stream. Include social media links on all of your products (At a minimum FaceBook and Twitter). Allow customers to share via email as well. Example Ceja Vineyards.
6. Newsletter Signup
Allow visitors to be informed. Make it easy to sign up for your newsletter. Also make it easy to unsubscribe. Example: Long Meadow Ranch.
5. Product Detail Pages
People buy what they know. Allow customers to explore your product. Show detailed tasting notes, product awards, magazine reviews, large images, video and other media. Example: Inman Family Wine.
4. Product Reviews
Product reviews increase sales by establishing credibility. Allow customers to freely write what they think about your wine. Keep your site authentic and allow negative comments. Encourage users to write reviews (it's a lot easier for people to write the second or third review on a product rather than being the first). Example: Twisted Oak.
3. Smooth Checkout Process
If I was standing in line at your tasting room register, then walked away because I had a bad experience, I'm pretty sure you would want to correct that experience both for your customer and for your bottom line. Make the online checkout process smooth: don't force a person to register to checkout, provide security assurances, accurate shipping prices and easy to use forms.
2. Address & Contact Details
Yes, I saw a winery website this week with no contact information on it. If you wonder why people aren't contacting you from your website... ensure you have contact information. In fact, learn from professional marketers like Wine Tasting and put your phone number in the header of your website so people see it on every page. Example: Wine Tasting Network.
1. Google Analytics- with Ecommerce and Goals setup.
It's pretty simple - you can't make good decisions without having good monitoring tools in place. Know how many people are coming to your site? where they are coming from? what they are doing when they get there? Google analytics is free, it's easy to setup, and it's easy to use. This tool will expose your site’s strengths and weaknesses; use it to help guide your design to drive people to the pages you want.
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