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.
Whether you’re ready for it or not, October, November and December (OND) is rapidly approaching. It’s a good time for wineries to start planning and executing marketing campaigns on their websites.
Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the holiday shopping season for millions of shoppers online. Here are 5 great ways to get your website ready for the holidays:
Statistically, I’m not the only consumer out there that puts off Christmas shopping until the last minute and with online purchases consumers need to be reminded of shipping times so the present makes it under the tree by Christmas morning.
If I buy wine from you will it make it to my house for Christmas, New Years, or later?
Offer a clear/simple shipping calendar throughout your website to make it easy for consumers (like me) to know if we’re going to make the deadline. There are some key areas on your site to place the calendar such as the header in the product list page and detail pages, as well as the cart and the checkout screens.
The example above from American Eagle quickly shows key dates to order before to get that gift under the tree by the 24th.
I’ve been both the giver and recipient of gifts that have arrived late and neither are fun. Work with your shipper to make a calendar that's simple so your consumers know the cut off dates.
It’s all about giving gifts during the holiday season and you want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to pick out something from your store. Your purchasers might be buying for their parents, a co-worker, or a friend, and might not know their taste in wine, so it’s your job to make it easy for them.
Use tools like product badges/callouts (like the one below), highlighting consumer ratings and reviews, or create pre-made packages to remove the guessing from the purchase.
Amazon does this really well, shown in the image below, by suggesting different categories or gift ideas for each type of person you’ll be buying for.
During the holidays consumers expect to see some type of sale and this is especially true on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you don’t offer a sale it is like telling your customers to go buy somewhere else.
Some examples of successful promotions are shipping discounts, or volume incentives. At this point, consumers expect free shipping for orders over $100 (technically ‘shipping included’ in the wine industry).
Start emailing your consumers early to let them know when the promotions will be running and give them something to anticipate on your site. We see some bigger ecommerce sites sending holiday emails for promotions but not letting the consumer know that the actual promo will not be in effect until a specific day. This gives them something to look forward to and a reason to visit the website rather than reading and discarding the email.
Create your emails and offers ahead of time and schedule to send them at specific times. Think about the key days your winery should be ready for (don’t leave it to the day before Black Friday). Below is a breakdown of the months leading up to the holidays with key dates and great ideas for email blasts:
Don’t take yourself, or your website, so seriously. Have fun with the holiday on your website and emails. Throw in a Santa hat, elf, reindeer, etc. somewhere on your site or add in a snowflake or two. This shows that your company has personality and that your website actually gets updated (so it’s not the same website all year round).
Both Target and Amazon add holiday imagery to their sites and logos every year. Below is an example of Bath & Body Works' website during the Christmas season which shows holiday imagery throughout the site.
If you've tried any other holiday tricks or campaigns, or if you've seen a great example let us know how they've worked.
A few months ago Andrew, Brent, and I went up to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards to test our POS system first hand, with real customers. This was an awesome learning experience, we loved what we built, but knew we could go further. We needed to continue breaking the barrier between you and the customer, getting you out from behind the counter.
The traditional POS is restrictive and bulky, comparable to the gym strip you wore in high school. The iPad POS or iPhone POS we like to think is more like yoga pants, they adapt, are flexible, they’re sexy.
A smart phone POS system is the perfect device for a winery’s tasting room setup. It doesn't depend on wifi and can be used either behind the tasting bar, or anywhere you interact with your customers. The wine industry is especially perfect for a mobile POS as wineries often have off site tastings, outdoor concerts, and events.
Get out from behind the counter, break the barrier, our iPad and iPhone POS help you achieve that.
Help your staff develop relationships between them and the customers, let the technology be secondary to the transaction. Going mobile enables them to interact, and use something they are already familiar with. This allows them to be more productive throughout their day and in turn sell more wine.
Empower your staff with a fresh and exciting technology, let them enjoy the devices they are using. Push aside the High school gym strip and give them some fresh new Yoga pants.
Adding a new iPhone POS device to your roster is about as easy as getting Angry Birds, just download it from the app store, and log in.
If you don’t own an iPhone the great thing is, iPods are inexpensive, portable, and lightweight.
The iPods run any application that your iPhone runs, they work perfectly on wi-fi networks.
Having a few of these around your tasting room takes up little to no space and more importantly allows your employees to walk around with them, liberating your staff from fixed stops so they can meet customers anywhere.
Break the barrier between you and your customer, focus on what your customer wants, and free up time for that interaction not the transaction.
Are you interested in adding the Vin65 iPhone POS into your tool-kit? Get more information 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?
Or in this case, believed. For years, CEOs and CFOs have been asking "what is the value of Social Media?" And those of us who believed in it, argued the necessity of "connecting" with our customers. But, July marks the seventh birthday of the launch of Twitter (and, Facebook is now 9), so we really can't call this a "new" channel. Let's refer to some real-world metrics, shall we?
The Q1 2013 research from Monetate provides some interesting facts to share with the C-levels looking for real numbers.
The chart above shows the share of social media referrals for eCommerce sites in the study.* Facebook is still the king when it comes to driving traffic to websites for sales, but Twitter is the new Queen and making some impressive gains. This is likely to Twitter growing up as a medium and less of a novelty. As companies see the importance, there is demand for more sophisticated tracking and qualified conversations are the result.
So, traffic is nice, to be sure, but what you want are sales. The chart above shows that we all shouldn't abandon SEO or SEM for sure, but Social channels are creeping up. And, again, if you want to sell wine, use Facebook. Eventually Pinterest could potentially be a real player, too.
Don't throw away those email addresses yet - email is still the best referrer to add-to-cart actions. And, depending on the research you read, consumers report a 60-74% preference toward emails as the channel for marketing. So, having smart email segmentation, landing pages and integrated programs still apply.
You care about this because you can use this data to benchmark your own site and see where to focus your marketing efforts.
*The data is based 500 million visits amongst their clients who include Ecommerce brands such as Best Buy, Frontier Airlines, Aeropostale, The Sports Authority, and PETCO.
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 email@example.com).
Here is the content delivered today:
We aren't really retail guys, we are software guys and truthfully you know a lot more about retail than we do, but here is what we did.
On May 25th, the Vin65 team set out to eating our own dog food (aka Dogfooding) and drove four hours to the heart of wine country in Canada to see the iPad POS in action, learn from our customers/end consumer, and drink some wine.
The iPad POS was built to give wineries the ability to take payments anywhere. It was meant to get the staff out from behind the tasting bar and the stationary computer and connecting with the consumer.
Andrew, Karson, and I called Tinhorn Creek and asked if we could simply shadow their staff using the iPad POS to learn from how they used it and see way it could improve. Instead, they wanted us on the front line and put us to work at their event selling shirts, cork screws, bags, and wine tastings armed with the two iPads with swipers and a cash box.
The event was called the Half Corked Marathon – picture a ½ marathon, drinking wine at over 15 wineries, and ridiculous costumes. Seeing the POS in action (at an outside event on a 3G connection) was perfect. We had lots of feedback from consumers and our client.
A huge part of what the POS was designed for was to be mobile. This means getting out from behind the tasting bar and walking around with customers. At this event the two iPads were on a fairly stable 3G data connection but we also tested it on a personal hotspot from our phones. Testing this was important because wineries should be able to take orders at a farmer’s market, a club party, concerts, etc. which likely don't have wifi.
When you’re taking orders with the person standing in front of you, you need the system to be quick. We found that the overall experience was good but saw several key areas to make this even better:
The speed varies depending on your wifi/data connection, so it’s good to test the POS at the location so you have a good connection. We were at a park on 3G with 3 to 4 bars.
We were surprised at the reaction from consumers when (a)we could take credit cards in the middle of a park, and (b)when they we happy to give up email addresses to get a receipt emailed to them.
Just imagine Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory trying to sell shirts – needless to say it was entertaining. It might have been all the wine everyone else was drinking, but after a while we seemed to get the hang of it and upsold a few clients on some cork screws. These are perfect consumers to have in your database. You know they like wine and they went out of their way to run a ½ marathon for it, so:
They're free, easy to set up, and tell you everything you need to know about how your website is performing.
But, they also encompass a confusing array of data, can be time-consuming to set up, and involve a dictionary of Google-speak. (What is a visit versus a pageview anyway?)
Don't worry if you don't have hours to dive into this. Here are three key stats to look at to see if your site is on track at the highest level.
The percentage of website traffic coming from mobile devices jumped from 17.5% in Q3 2012 to 23.1% in Q4 2012, according to a new report from Walker Sands. On the Vin65 platform, our clients average about 17%. To find out what yours is:
Implication? This example shows a smaller viewership - only 4.4% are on mobile. But if you are one of the wineries where 1 out of every 5 of your customers are on a mobile device, you better make sure that your mobile site and cart are optimized or you could be losing valuable sales.
To take this a step further, drill down to remove iPads. Why? Because iPads are "mobile" in the Google Analytics world but tend to use computer monitor resolution. So if you're trying to see if you need to redesign your site for the small screen, this is important.
To do this:
Did you know that things like static home pages and flash movies can stop up to 95% of your traffic on your home page? One of the cooler visual stats in Google Analytics is the Visitors Flow view. To access this area:
Implication? This example isn't too bad - but 20% of all traffic that started on this home page left. What are your numbers? You could be working hard to drive traffic to your site, and then traffic leaves after the first page. So, either your visitors are finding what they want right away...or or you've lost them.
Many of us spend large amounts of time worrying about Social Media. But is it doing anything for your business? Here is one of the simplist ways to answer that question.
Implication? You can see if the work that you're spending on various Social Media channels is driving traffic to your site, and then adjust accordingly. This is the tip of the iceberg in the Social Arena, to be sure. In this example there are also conversion goals attached to the shopping cart, and you can put specific Social urls in here as well. But at a high level, this will tell you if you're making an impact.
So, don't be afraid, dive in to these, and more Google Analytics, and keep your site on track working hard toward your goals.
Driven by sustainability and customer service, large retailers like Macy's, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Nordstrom, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Kmart, Sears and Gap all now offer consumers the option to have their receipts emailed to them. In fact, a third (35%) of retailers offer digital receipts, and half of them do so at all their stores, according to a survey of 3,900 retailers released in 2012 by marketing firm Epsilon. Is your tasting room taking a cue from this growing "green" trend? This might be a great time to implement a reciept, or follow-up for a tasting room visit before the busy summer season. Say "thank you for visiting" and watch them come back!
If you think follow-ups are creepy, get over it. There may be many reasons a customer would start to purchase something in your eCommerce cart and then stop. The phone could ring, maybe they didn't have the credit card handy, or they got sidetracked. A polite quick email touching base with this lost customer can be appreciated. Numerous studies have now showed the effectiveness of this practice when done thoughtfully, quickly and helpfully. Chief Marketer reported about a test that Movies Unlimited performed which including the title of the movie left in the shopping cart and an offer. Their test resulted in a 13% conversion rate on the follow-ups, and these sales contributed 10% of all future sales. That kind of a lift in sales is not bad at all for an automated email!
Every customer wants to feel appreciated. After all, the ultimate gift a customer can give you is approval to charge their credit card periodically and send them wine. So, don't you think a "Thank You" is in order? Whether they sign up in the tasting room, on the phone, or online, you can acknowledge the fact that they put their trust in your and gave you a standing order for wine. Combine this welcome email with an offer or introductory combination of wine or merchandise and you can make them feel appreciated, and reap the sales benefits as well. Then follow up with a thoughtful recontact strategy in email and you've got a customer for life.
One thing technology allows us to do is keep track of data. This includes key dates, like birthdays and club sign-up anniversaries. These are great opportunities to let your customers know you appreciate them, and provide them with a special offer to say "Thank You." You can get creative with this as well. How about reminding them of the last time they visited, or the fact that they purchased their holiday wine at this time last year. If you think about it, there could be lots of milestones you could use to encourage repeat purchases. It is automated, easy to set up in the system, and if done correctly can be very thoughtful and appreciated by your customers as well.
This is always a hot button before club processing time. While phone calls are usually necessary for the stragglers, why not initially start with setting up an automatic email alerting customers 60, 30 or 10 days out that their card is about ready to expire. You won't get everyone, but if you can decrease the phone call load, isn't it worth it?
These are just some instances where a little set-up can save you some time, show your customers you care, and maybe increase your sales.
For more information on setting up Action Emails, see our documentation site.
Guest post by Susan DeMatei - Susan is the owner of Wine Glass Marketing, 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 wineglassmarketing.com/blog.
I can't remember the last time I used cash, can you? It seems that everything you buy from anyone can be handled with your credit card, or your phone. No where was this more apparent to me than at the local Alameda flea market this past weekend.
For those of you who haven't been there, this is a monthly massive event of hundreds of vendors that take over the port of Oakland and sell everything from bobby pins to bobbleheads. It is a delightful way to spend a Sunday.
While some are full-fledged antique dealers and furniture restoration houses worthy of their own show on HGTV, many are just small mom-and pop shops or artists with "day jobs" who do this once-a-month as a hobby. So, I was struck by the sophistication of the payment methods.
Gone were the cash-boxes and grasping for change. Nearly everyone was advertising mobile banking - credit cards, sign up for mailing lists and square requests were everywhere. I have seen the same at my local farmer's market (I wish it would warm up already - I miss those!) And, I went to grab a beer on the way home, and the waitress had a hand-held POS system on her phone.
So, why is it in the wine industry we are slow to adapt to what these Sunday vendors have already adopted. Here's some theories:
Many wineries have "legacy" systems, or other systems that work in tasting rooms, inventory, or customer records. When performing a transaction outside the normal constructs of the tasting room, it is important to take these needs into consideration, or else you are going to need to re-enter or upload the mobile transaction data into the main system.
Make sure you mobile POS system of choice is integrated with one of two systems - either your stand alone POS system, like the one at the bar I mentioned, or your web system. If it connects to one of these, your data is merged and customer records are free of duplicates.
Selling a vintage doll buggy or bushel of zucchini is different than selling wine. Frustrating as it is, we are beholden to laws, taxes and volume restrictions not monitored by other vendors. While sliding a card through a reader seems easy enough to set up, remember that these purchases need to go through your accounting system and be recorded.
Check with your accounting or compliance manager on what you need to report. Make sure your mobile POS system of choice is either integrated with your reporting system, like Ship Compliant, or can provide the reports that are necessary. Otherwise, it is probably not worth the hassle.
An often over-looked part of remote transaction is the data capture. A simple slide of the Square may be awesome at the time, but if you can't track that sale back to a customer for future recontact, you're losing marketing possibilities. In the wine industry, this is multiplied when customers ask you to hold shipments until they're back from vacation, or sign up for a club, or change shipping destination. There are many conversations that happen out on the selling floor that should be captured along with that transaction data.
Look beyond a simple mobile POS to one that not only offers the fields you need to take the notes necessary for your business, but also is easily operated by tasting room staff. (And, often the tasting room staff that you hire to work busy events when mobile systems are necessary are part-timers or temps, making it necessary to be extremely intuitive.)
So, go forth and sell - in the tasting room, vineyard or crushpad. But be smart about it by ensuring that your accounting, compliance and customer data systems are integrated and happy with your mobile POS choice.
Are you using your website to the best of it's ability to capture and grow your database? If you monitor Google Analytics, you'll see the % of new visitors to your site - that is a large group of potential new customers to add to your mailing list.
Furthermore, these new visitors that come to your site via search or SEO are high-quality potential customer. Search-engine optimization (SEO - bringing people to your site who are searching in search engines like Google) is the digital marketing channel with the biggest impact on lead generation for both B2B and B2C companies, according to the August 2012 survey results from Webmarketing123.
59% of B2B marketers said SEO has the biggest impact on their lead generation goals, with social media (21%) and pay-per-click (PPC – 20%) trailing distantly. Their B2C counterparts also ranked SEO (49%) first for impact on lead generation, followed by PPC (26%) and social media (25%).
So, are you doing everything you can to capture them? Here are some ideas:
Gone are the brochure-website days of the 1990's where a home page was a static picture of your logo, winery, or product. Such "billboards" require someone to click a top navigation to get to any information. Assuming a large percentage of visitors are new to you, why not have your sign-up right on your home page? Or, on a universal side-bar?
A 2012 study by Adsense indicated we all process information differently. 47% of web surfers polled indicated they always clicked on text, 18% said they always clicked on graphics, and 35% of us click on either/both depending on the page layout and information.
The implication? Have a linking graphic picture asking for newsletter sign up, then have a text link next to it. (And, you can have it in your navigation as well.)
The shopping cart is an ideal place to continue to the dialog with customers. Providing them opportunities to sign up to different mailing lists not only gives you segmentation opportunities to improve your communication, but shows you care about their interests.
Don't interrupt them when they are completing the transaction, but after the transaction, ask they their preference. In the Vin65 system, this is an option, that when turned on, will provide customers the option during confirmation after check-out to sign up for your mailling lists.
There are many other ways to capture visitors to your site to add to your mailing list. What are your favorites?
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