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.
Today, our parent company launched WineDirect Compliance. Our CEO, Joe Waechter, has a blog post here explaining why we built a compliance tool, and the thought process behind it.
As the COO of WineDirect and President of Vin65, I got to sit in a lot of the compliance meetings - here’s our thought process:
For years compliance has been difficult. While there are a lot of rules and red tape – we want to tell you that it shouldn’t be that hard.
We look at compliance like we look at credit card processing. It’s an important piece of the business, with some complexity under the hood, but it's largely in the background. You have to get compliance right, but it should really stay out of your way. You should spend your day figuring out how to sell more wine – not the ins and outs of compliance. Like credit card processing – you should setup compliance and largely forget about it. It should just work.
We wanted our compliance tool to be simple. Everyday you login to your POS, you login to your ecommerce system - we didn’t want you to have to login to compliance everyday (even with single sign-on). We want you to focus on selling wine instead of looking at compliance.
The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t a place to manage weather holds. Progressive wineries should do that in their ecommerce. Others will do that at fulfillment. The WineDirect Compliance tool doesn’t email you every day with package exceptions – that’s what fulfillment is for. The compliance tool isn’t where you should manage your fulfillment – your fulfillment provider has the data and they should have the tools. The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t where you do benchmarking – you should have BI tools for that. The WineDirect Compliance tool isn’t for editing orders – that’s your order management system's job. Compliance should simply handle orders, calculate taxes, check compliance, and run reports.
At WineDirect, we want to make compliance simple. It should be something you setup – and then forget. You enter the rules, your orders follow those rules, and at the end of the month you generate some reports. While you can login anytime, it shouldn’t be something you visit daily.
If we look at our new WineDirect Compliance tool – there isn’t much to it. There’s great product integration – you setup your product in Vin65 and it’s automatically added to WineDirect Compliance. Your orders automatically flow to WineDirect Compliance - with the county level taxes. It has a one click setup if you’re on Vin65 - so everything is preconfigured and ready to go. You review some rules, perhaps change or suppress some rules, and then that’s it. You don’t get a daily email – you get one a week. You have a little dashboard with some reminders of reports due. At the end of the month you simply print some reports and others you can electronically file.
WineDirect Compliance is simple for you, but truthfully, there’s a lot to WineDirect Compliance. It has a ton of rules in the background, we’ve simulated it against a massive load (our entire traffic volume in October, November, December). We spent a lot of time validating everything, it has been carefully scrutinized by an attorney, we have hundreds of hours in testing, and there's a team of people behind it to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. But from your point of view – there's nothing to it. Just like credit card processing. It either accepts orders, or pushes them back to you to modify and try again or simply not take the order.
Today WineDirect launches compliance. If you’re a Vin65 customer, it’s one click for us to set you up. There’s a free trial until September. There’s a “dual mode” if you want to run it alongside your existing compliance system. If you currently use Compli, we’ve partnered with them so they will use our real time compliance checks with the compliance they do for you (no need to switch vendors). For more information click here.
At Vin65 we see a lot of data from transactions, we’ve done a lot of experiments and we’ve seen some interesting results. For example:
We’ve focused on analytics, A/B tests, and we look at BI tools to track data and improve tools and while this data is good, we don’t believe this it is good enough.
Today we are starting a whole new class of experiments are excited about learning a lot in completely different ways. Rather than looking at just the data, we’re going to start experiments with conversations consumers with each other and wineries.
I wish I could say linking a consumer’s social and ecommerce profiles together results in ‘X’ – but we are just in the beginning phase. Let me tell you what I believe and what we experimenting with.
Knowing and understanding your consumers and acting on that data is what creates exceptional companies and I believe that the best way to know your customer is to have conversations with them. Knowing the POS and ecommerce data is not enough. Just like peanut butter and jelly, I believe that ecommerce data combined with social data is a perfect match.
Imagine knowing that club members that are Facebook fan last 5 months longer than those who are not fans. Would that change the way you promote you Facebook page and how you use Facebook’s tools? What if you were instantly notified if your that a few people Tweeting you were your top consumers were reaching out on Tweeter. Would you engage them in a conversation?
At Vin65 the primary goal of this blog is education (how to sell the most wine online) for our customers and the wine industry as a whole. We also don’t like to talk about tools we are building. I realize I hijacked it – but I did want to lay out a vision of a few things we see in the future.
At Vin65 we've partner with VinTank (the leading wine social media management company) and we’ve created a bi-direction integration linking social customers in VinTank with ecommerce customers in Vin65.
Inside VinTank - The next time someone is talking about you, the next time your looking at social conversations, you can see that persons lifetime value, club memberships, Vin65 contact type, etc.
Inside Vin65 - Your can use the list builder to segment on customers social, look at individual customers and see their social profile.
This is going to allow for a lot of great data meshing. I’m sure you, our customer, will drive a lot of what is to come.
I would invite you to watch a video and learn more about our bi-direction integration with Vintank or request a demo.
I’d also love to hear what you would like to see with the meshing of social and ecommerce data. What would help you sell more wine?
The Vin65 Direct-to-Consumer Roadshow has kicked off with the first event launching in Paso Robles today. Future events to be held in Mendocino and Calaveras County (and if you want us to come to your area please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Here is the content delivered today:
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.
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?
It's 2012, and my #1 business New Years Resolution is to sell more wine online. Internally we have some great stuff we are working on, but let's talk about 12 ways you can sell more wine online.
If you are looking for things to settle down and return to the good old days… think again. Facebook is here to stay, Google+ is signing up 625,000 users a day, we are now in a social world. Our Facebook Ecommerce App has been up for two months and the results have been great - it's driving upwards of 8% of sales for sites that have it enabled.
A hot trend in 2011 was "remarketing". Picture this - a visitor adds a wine to their shopping cart on your site and then they leave your website. The next time they are on Google or a blog or website showing ads, you can have an ad that specifically targets the visitor to try and get them back to your site. There are several vendors in this space including Google AdWords and in the wine industry watch for Vintners Alliance.
Do you force visitors to your website to jump through hoops, buy minimum quantities, or go through strange checkout processes just so they fit into your internal systems? Your visitor's experience matters, focus on it, and you will sell more wine.
Search engines still drive a large percentage of your traffic. Ensure you have the basics like great title tags, content that isn't hidden behind a wall, etc. You'd be surprised how tweaking your site might drive a large number of visitors. On Google, search for your brand, your key products, and a few of your other key words. If you're not coming up number one or number two, you're missing sales.
Okay this is a little bit like point #1. Use social proof. When visitors see "500 likes" and "10 product reviews", they feel great about buying your wine. Product reviews increase wine sales by upwards of 20% (read more). We don't have the stats on Facebook "Like" - but I know when I see a lot of likes, or a friend that likes a product - it influences me positively.
In 2011 I started having a weekly lunch with the marketing director from a local marketing firm. One of the key things I learned in our very first meeting was "use offline to bring them online". There are people who didn't grow up with the internet and they don't always trust it. Offline direct mail and advertising will drive online sales.
If you're a reader of this blog you know mobile traffic is up. Mobile traffic makes up over 10% of the traffic on our platform. We are now seeing wineries with 18 and 20% of their web traffic from mobile devices. If you don't have a mobile site it's going to cost you sales in 2012. Furthermore a great mobile site will generate sales. (The better the experience, the more likely the visitor is going to buy).
Tests at Amazon revealed that every 100 ms increase in load time of Amazon.com decreased sales by 1% (Kohavi and Longbotham 2007). Speed up your site and you'll sell more wine.
People make assumptions about your wine based on how your website looks. High resolution, high quality images will increase your perceived brand value, and high quality photos will increase sales conversion.
Not all buttons are equal (see proof). Not all Call To Action lines are equal either. Which Test Won is full of stories where a simple change in the language adds a huge return. (While you're checking your calls to action - check that the links work, the color shouldn't be red, that everything is readable, clear, and possibly above the fold).
Nothing kills sales faster than high shipping rates (well maybe compliance laws kill sales, but that's not so controllable). Shipping costs are the number one deterrent to buying wine online. Make sure your rates are realistic. Would a first-time customer buy wine with your current shipping rates?
The most important sale is the second sale (read more). - use promotions and other strategies to build loyalty and repeat sales.
At Vin65 we hope that 2012 is a great year for you - both offline and online. Let us know what you are doing to increase your sales.
Developing the correct content strategy for your mobile site can be a bit confusing. It's still early in the game and we are seeing consultants offer different strategies on what content belongs on a mobile website.
Should you limit the content displayed on the mobile version of your website? How about the number of products? Should that be limited?
Originally, our team here at Vin65 thought the answer should be yes. Mobile phone screen sizes are small, the 3G data speeds are slower than regular broadband, and customers visiting your mobile site typically want to do something quickly, such as calling your winery or locating your winery.
Now that our mobile platform is more than a 1.5 years old, the above answer should be "no". Here's why.
1) Users need to see your content.
16-20% of emails are opened on a mobile device (source). A customer opens your email on a mobile device, they click a link - where does that take them? Hopefully to a mobile optimized version of a page. Unfortunately, more often than not, mobile websites are built as a "light" version of a brand's site and the mobile content is an after-thought - and the email link doesn't work.
More than 350 million Facebook users access Facebook through their mobile device (source). People "like" and share your content all the time. Similar to the email scenario, users on mobile devices need to be able to click links and see the mobile version of that content. Unlike the email scenario, you can't control the links people are sharing and if you only have a "light" version of your mobile site, the shared links won't work.
2) Mobile is not a second class citizen.
The problem with limiting content on your mobile site is you now have two sites to manage. Every time you add a page to your regular site, you have to decide if you should add it to your mobile site. It's extra work, and you often forget or neglect the content on the mobile site. (Our first version of our mobile had two sets of page content and wineries constantly let the mobile site go stale).
We recommend that all of your content, all of your products, everything on your primary website should also exist on your mobile site. Every URL on your primary site has to work from a mobile phone (you don't control what other people are sending out, linking to, etc). You create a page, you add a product, etc - it should just work on your mobile site. This way, if a customer on a mobile phone views an email, reads Facebook, clicks on a tweet, all of the links, pages, etc. will just work.
We also recommend that the navigation on your mobile site be different than your primary website. People who come directly to your mobile phone do so with purpose - primarily to call, get your address, or look up a product. Screen size on a mobile phone is limited, and you want to promote the content that people are most likely to be seeking on their mobile phone.
Do you have a mobile optimized website? How do you decide what content to display?
Get the blog by RSS
Need to accelerate online sales? Subscribe here: