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Vin65 Blog

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.

Andrew Kamphuis
 
December 4, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Where's My Order?

Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank was lamenting on twitter about how he ordered wine from 6 different wineries via the web and no one followed up with him. Brent and I tried the experiment ourselves a year ago with 20 Canadian wineries - unfortunately almost every website underperformed.

This past week I ordered wine (as a first time customer) from a couple different winery websites. I'm still waiting for my tracking information (even though some of the packages  have already arrived).

At a bare minimum a website should:

  1. Send an email order confirmation immediately after the order was placed.
  2. Send tracking information as soon as the order has been shipped.
  3. Provide a mechanism for customer feedback. Make it easy for customers to respond, ask questions, or even complain.
Time Posted: Dec 4, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
December 2, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

The Most Important Time in a Customer Relationship.

The most important time in a customer relationship is the three months following their first purchase.

That statement may or may not be true for you... but it's true for Kevin Hillstrom. Do you know what percentage of your first time customers will purchase again? And do you know within what time frame they will place their subsequent orders?

We spend a lot of time tweaking the customer experience on winery websites so that visitors will make the first purchase.  We also know that repeat customers are the best customers to have. What happens between the first purchase and a customer becoming a repeat purchaser?

There are some really great comments in Kevin's blog:

  1. First time buyers are in a 'honeymoon' period.
  2. First time buyers generate a lot of buzz (positive and negative) - maybe more buzz than loyal customers.
  3. First time buyers should be given an incentive for their second order. 

Consider the following scenarios:

First Time Purchaser in the Tasting Room
A visitor from out-of-town makes their first purchase in your tasting room. Converting them to a repeat purchaser becomes a lot easier if your POS and website talk with each other. We would recommend that they receive a 'Thank You' for visiting email, followed by an email asking them to rate the wines they bought, and a coupon to entice them to make their second purchase online. 

First Time Purchaser on the Web
For most wineries this consumer may be a little more rare. They heard about your wine from a friend or at a restaurant, and now they come to your website and order a bottle. Do you treat them the same as any other customer?  Wouldn't it be better to treat them special with a customized message and coupon for their second purchase?

Time Posted: Dec 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 30, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

What do customers want this holiday season?

Shop.org released the results of their eHoliday Study pre-holiday consumer and retailer surveys early in November. Here is a brief summary of the key findings when consumers were asked, "When choosing to make holiday purchases from a given retailer, what is most important to you?":

  1. Seeing the shopping cart total before starting the checkout process (yes this beat out other factors like values, deals, merchant reputation, etc)
  2. Clear product descriptions
  3. Value for money / good deals

Shop.org followed it up with a second post summarizing results of a survey of consumers about which specific Web site features they rely on most when making holiday purchases.  When rated out of 5:

  • 4.1 rated reviews from fellow customers as important.
  • 4.0 rated clearance sale pages important
  • 3.8 rated feature sale item pages important
  • 3.8 rated shipping deadline calendar as important

While none of these results are surprising, it still is astounding how many wineries don't address these issues that these survey results prove are very important to their customers. Doing so could bring that customer back to purchase again.

Time Posted: Nov 30, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 16, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Speed Sells

Are slow loading web pages causing you to lose purchasers?

The holiday season is the busiest season for winery websites. If your site isn't optimized for the load, you're selling yourself short. Earlier this month Get Elastic posted some of the research from Forrester Research on web page loading speed on their blog. Here are a few notible excerpts:

  • Next to pricing and shipping issues, poor site performance is a major cause of dissatisfaction.
  • Overall, 52% of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty.
  • 61% of online shoppers who spend more than $1,500 online per year insist on pages loading quickly.
  • After a poor site experience, 27% are less likely to buy from that retailer off-line.
  • Not only does an under-performing site lead to customer frustration, but 64% of shoppers state they will simply purchase from another online store.
  • 40% would abandon if it takes more than 3 seconds

There are 3 factors that cause slow loading pages.

1) The webserver is slow. There is a trend (especially in ecommerce) to have more dynamic content which places a larger load on webservers. Webservers can become slow because there is too much traffic, the database may be slow, the hardware might be under powered, and/or the software application may not be optimally constructed. There are a number of ways to combat slow webservers such as load balancing, caching queries, adding more hardware, and reviewing overall code architecture. There are lots of load testing tools available to web developers and your developer should have a sense of how much traffic their webserver can hold.

2) The web page has large images, lots of images, large flash files, or is poorly constructed. Obviously larger images, more images, and large flash content all take longer to load. There are ways to combat slow pages including using a content delivery network, ensuring images, css, and scripts are cached, compressing and/or minimizing files, and using preloaders. Your web developer should be able to tell you the overall size of your web page and give you options to have it load faster. (Tools like YSlow make this really easy.)

3) Connection speeds are slow. Internet service providers don't always provide the connection speeds they advertise. We still see a decent percentage of traffic that is still on dial up networks. Your web page probably still needs to cater to a percentage of dialup users. (Your analytic software may give you a sense of what percentage of traffic is still on a dialup connection.)

~~

The holiday season is almost here. It's probably a good time to ensure that your website is performing at an optimal speed before the traffic increases.

Time Posted: Nov 16, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
November 3, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

3 Mistakes When Redesigning Your Website

Thinking about redesigning your winery website? If so, here are three common mistakes to avoid before jumping into your redesign.

1. Forgetting about Search Engines and Inbound Links

Even though your old site might be dated, it still garners traffic from outside sources. Half the people visiting a winery website enter via a search engine. Inbound links from blogs, social media, and other websites also represent a good portion of traffic.

These links to product pages, company pages, contact pages, etc are often broken in a site redesign. (Different platforms and designers handle URLs differently, and often you will want your URL structure updated for search engine ranking and other reasons).

The proper way to handle updating URL structure is:

  • Look at your site analytics and determine where your traffic is coming from and what links people are visiting.
  • Create 301 redirects pointing traffic from your old links to your new links. (A 301 redirect is the proper way to inform search engines that the redirected URL is the new URL for the old content). Your developer should be able to do this for you (or in the case of our platform you can do it inside our content management system)

2. Forgetting about your Frequent Customers

Your most frequent site visitors probably don't want you to drastically change the site design (even if it's better, people don't always want to learn a new way of doing a task).

In an ideal world, your site would be continually enhanced rather than drastically altered every few years. If your club members are used to coming to your site and quickly placing an order, and you then completely redesign the store, it often throws the user way off.

Consider the redesign we did this past year for Twisted Oak. The new site is more of a progression on the old site rather than an evolution. The overall navigation structure and location of the wines and products didn't change that much and previous visitors should be able to find their way around.

Bottom line, think 'evolution' rather than 'revolution'.

3. Not Setting any Goals Before Jumping In

We see a lot of redesigns just because a site is dated. While it's fine to redesign a dated site, it's even better to set goals for your site.

Design is very important to your site, but you should look first at function, structure, goals, and business objectives of the site. Your designer should walk you through a design process that starts with these goals.

We start all of our sites with a goal questionnaire followed by wireframes. A wireframe will allow you to focus on function (for example what are the key elements on the homepage and what are their goals) rather than on design.

Bonus:

One more thing to think about when redesigning your site is the historical data. If you are switching platforms, it's important that order history, customer lists and other data be brought over to your new site. The longer you sell online, the more important this data becomes. (Being able to build lists, segment customers, etc off historical data is a very effective way of marketing.)

~~

If you are thinking about a redesign, there are more options and better tools than ever before. Just make sure you are thinking about the overall affects rather than doing a redesign just for the sake of a redesign.
 

Time Posted: Nov 3, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
October 19, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Customers want simple.

If you are launching your new web site and wonder what customers want - customers want simple!

  1. Customers don't want to give you their birthdate before they enter your website.
  2. Customers don't want to read about your wine in one part of your site and jump to another part of your website to purchase the wine.
  3. Customers don't want to create an account, give you a username and double confirm a password just to buy wine from you.
  4. Customers don't want a long drawn out checkout process.
  5. Customers don't want to be tricked into signing up for a newsletter.
  6. Customers don't want to be spammed.
  7. Customers don't want to be forced to buy minimum quantities.
  8. Customers don't want flash.

Everything we force a customer to do before they get what they want carries consequence. Choose and weight those things carefully.

Time Posted: Oct 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
September 22, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

5 Stars Dominate Ratings (in Video and Wine)

Youtube blogged earlier today how Five Stars Dominate Ratings. I quote: "great video prompts action; anything less prompts indifference." And in their blog they posted the graph on the right.

I wanted to compare how closely YouTube's ratings match how consumers rate wine. We pulled the data from all of the websites on our platform using our 5 star rating widget. Almost 50% of consumers rated the wine at the full 5 stars. (The full results are in the graph on the right).

A couple of objection we hear from clients about allowing consumer ratings and reviews are:

  1. What do we do if there is a negative rating or review; and
  2. Not all consumers rate wine on the same scale (for some 3 out of 5 might mean it was good, while to others it means mediocre)

The statistics above basically coincide with what we have often thought.  There are very few negative consumer reviews (less than 10% of ratings were 1 or 2 stars) and there are an overwhelming amount of positive ratings and reviews.

More importantly, we know that ratings and reviews will increase conversion other industries report 20-50% increase in conversion). So while YouTube debates the merits of its 5 star rating system for video, to me a 5 star rating system on a winery website makes a lot of sense.

What do you think?

Time Posted: Sep 22, 2009 at 10:00 PM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
August 19, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

New Admin Interface

A little bit of a self promotion. This morning we launched our new interface on our admin panel. (137 websites are awaking to the new interface today, the other 160ish sites are seeing the new UI in the next couple of weeks).

We have some clear goals around our admin panel. It has to be as simple as possible. We want the user interface to be intuitive and friendly (both for a positive experience for our users and because it cuts our customer support costs).

We have some lesser known goals. The interface has to work with some of the technology in place. The CSS has to be light and fit well into existing code. The overall interface has to be 'white brandable' for some of our partners.

Here are some of the decisions we made with a new user interface:

  1. Our users vary in the technology they use. Unfortunately 7.3% of our users are still using IE 6 and we felt we had to still support that 8 year old browser. 15% of our users are on Macs.  Firefox and Safari both represents sizable percentages of users (so no browser specific code). Screen resolution also varies drastically, with 27% of our users still using the 1024x768 resolution.
  2. Our users involvement vary. 40-50% of users login on a daily basis. Other users don't log in for months. We wanted to make sure when users first login, they would not feel overwhelmed by the new interface.
  3. Our users vary in their technical capabilities. While we don't rank our users technical savviness, we know that some of our users are very web savvy, while other users are not as savvy. We needed to make sure the non-savvy people would feel okay with the changes.

If your a current admin panel users - we would love your feedback. Either email me directly at andrew@vin65.com, or leave a comment below.

Time Posted: Aug 19, 2009 at 8:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
August 17, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Consumers reviews - do you trust them?

We've seen consumer reviews make a large difference in conversion rates online, and we've known for quite some time that people trust other people's opinions. Here are the numbers according to Nielsen. 70% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online. This is higher than trust of TV, newspaper, magazine, radio and all other mass advertising listed in the survey. (Thanks Kristina for sending this to me earlier this week.)

If you are not letting consumers post reviews on your website, is it maybe because you don't trust your consumers?

Time Posted: Aug 17, 2009 at 8:00 AM
Andrew Kamphuis
 
August 5, 2009 | Andrew Kamphuis

Predictable Customer Behavior

Are you training your customers to delete the email you send?

My grocery store has me trained. They have one of these loyalty rewards programs where I receive a point for every dollar I spend. Every two weeks they send out a flyer (via mail) and it has 50 products advertised, each with 10 or 15 bonus points. They also always have two coupons that are for 2500 points each if you spend $95 or more.

Over the past couple years I've discovered that all the coupons suck, except the 2500 point coupons. So like clockwork, every two weeks I cut out the two good coupons. The rest of the coupons are in the garbage. I've never use them. I can't even remember the last time I glanced at the offers.

So here's my point. Customers can be trained. Amazon sends me an email, I'll read it, and if that email is of value I'll remember. Because the last email was of value, the next email I receive from Amazon I'll read. If there is value there, I'll read the next email. It spirals up. I start to predictably open the emails from Amazon.

The opposite happens at some wineries. An email is created. Rather than creating a specific value proposition for a specific target audience, they send the email to their entire consumer list (after all, it costs almost nothing to send the email out). Some customers don't see value in the email. Another email is created and it goes out to the entire email list again. Again a group of customers don't see any value. The winery has trained a group of customers to ignore the email.

Tonight we analyzed the open behavior on one million emails sent over the past two year where the customers had been emailed 5 or more times. After 4 emails there was an 91.4% chance the customer had been trained (and responded to all future emails in the same manor).

So to put my point in a few sentences. Customers are predictable. If they are opening your email and responding by clicking back, you should probably keep doing the same thing. If they are consistently ignoring you email, it might be time to change what you're doing.

Time Posted: Aug 5, 2009 at 10:05 PM
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