Welcome to the Vin65 blog. We are using this space to try and convey our little piece of insight into winery websites and best practices to sell more wine online.
The more "custom" your club, the more specific, hands-on processing is necessary to meet each requests which increases the opportunity for mistakes
There is no other industry that we know of where a customer says, “Just keep my credit card on file and charge me periodically for whatever you’re selling.”
So, when one leaves, it hurts.
Sometimes it is outside of your control, but one of the most common reasons for leaving a wine club is that the customer didn't like the wine you sent. Instead of the customer being glad you sent them your chosen wines, they cancel their membership because they now feel comfortable enough with your wines to choose their favorites.
To meet the customer desire to have more input on the wines in their shipment, many wineries have tried to offer “customized” clubs. A custom wine club can be an administrative nightmare as it often involves special instructions, individual orders, and a lot of manual work.
Over the years we've worked with a lot of websites managing customer clubs in many different ways, and wanted to pass on a few tips:
Beware of promising special requests - instead give everyone the option.
It is better to lose a club member and keep a customer, than lose the customer altogether by over-promising and under-delivering. The more "custom" your club, the more specific hands-on processing is needed to meet each request which increases opportunities for mistakes. Instead of one-off requests, why not make a choice open to everyone? For instance, they can chose a new Chardonnay release, or a second bottle of the Merlot if they prefer your red wines. In this way you're giving choice, but not creating an administrative nightmare for your staff, or potential disappointment for the member.
Be consistent with how you process these orders.
If you go down this path, encourage your call center, tasting room staff or club manager to be consistent with how you mark customer requests for replacement wines. Thoughtfully set up the choices for swaps, check inventory, and inform the staff. If everyone knows what the choices are and processes it the same way, there is less chance for error.
Limit the choices for the swap.
We heard of one winery recently that had over 100 club options because the call center was afraid of saying “no”. This is no longer a club, these are processing one-off orders. It is ok to provide choice - like everyone can swap the Chardonnay (default) for a Merlot - but when you get into a "pick your own" type of solution, you will enter into the realm of individual orders and not a club shipment. There are two pitfalls to a "pick your own" club. One is errors (see the first point above) but the second is scalability. It may be ok to note "always replace the Chardonnay wth the Sauvignon Blanc" for one big buyer (if you can remember to parce out his club shipment), but when that applies to 10 or 20 people, and the replacements vary...the administrative costs eats away at the profit too much. Keep your options simple and universal so your club is scalable as well as error-free.
Listen to your customers.
If the request is common, consider creating a new club tier. For instance, if you only send six bottles and you are hearing people cancel because they have too much wine, consider a two or four bottle club.
They key here, as with most things, is to listen and think through the implications. Frequent meetings with your staff selling the club might provide more ideas. We’d love for you to share them!
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.
Whether it’s a TV show highlighting thrifty families using coupons, or an inbox full of retail store offers, consumers are becoming more "deal" conscious when selecting where they choose to shop. In a sea of conflicting prices and promotional offers what can help your offer rise and get noticed while others sink into the proverbial junk box? Let's take a look at 4 keys to an effective coupon or promo strategy for selling wine.
The way you word your promotion will not only affect how consumers read it but also how they react to it, whether they purchase or not. When wording your promotion here are a few points to consider:
Percentage or dollar off offers work well to generate interest for new shoppers. Club discounts that are automatic and easy to use can help promote brand loyalty and boost club memberships. However there is one promotion type that appeals to all consumers…free shipping. For our American winery clients you need to word your promotion as "Shipping Included" for legal reasons.
Here are a few compelling reasons why you should offer free shipping:
*Statistics provided by Freeshipping.org
Shipping is just one more cost that a consumer is mentally factoring in while they shop online. If you offer free shipping, it’s one less item you have to worry about. Customers are more likely to buy more, more often, when they don’t have to worry about additional costs.
Make sure your offer gets noticed. Prominent places such as homepage pods or sliders make your offer visible to anyone visiting your ecommerce store. To target newsletter signups, why not add a promotion code to an automatic confirmation email giving a discount off their first order? For those offering frequent promotions, why not consider creating a page dedicated to showcasing your current offers? This will help to keep deal seekers looking for coupon codes on your site, training them to visit your site rather than searching Google for the latest deals.
Whatever your offer, make sure you test its functionality before you release it. Finding a broken promotion is disappointing and frustrating to a consumer, and may be perceived as a "bait & switch" tactic. You should let consumers know how and where to use coupon codes, and where they will see the discounts appear. Then just make sure your promotion works as described.
Agree? Disagree? What promotions are working for you?
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