Selling Wine Online - Canada and the World
Last month, we brought the Vin65 Roadshow to Niagara, ON, Canada, alongside our sponsors, Canada Post. The wine game for Canada is a little different from the US - but the focus for Vin65 remains the same; we want you to sell more wine.
The Canada Post data shown below is representative of overall growth in Canadian ecommerce across several categories. There are consistent double-digit increases across the country with some clear growth hot pockets. This is a huge opportunity for wineries as shoppers are adapting rapidly to online shopping overall. Here's a quick look at the realities of selling wine online in Canada and the world.
Wine Is a Unique Product
Selling wine online is different than selling general merchandise, so you want to use software specific to selling wine. There is a lot to think about - everything from legal restrictions (such as age restrictions), alcohol taxes, compliance, shipping and wine club processing. Wine is an interesting product to sell, so working with someone that’s done it before will save a winery a lot of hassle.
Shipping Is Tough
Although Canadian wineries don't have the same compliance laws that US wineries face - they still have a ton of red tape to get through. Inter-provincial shipping is the biggest barrier facing wineries trying to sell online. Free the Grapes has a Canadian arm – freemygrapes.ca. Keep up with their efforts because they’ve initiated great wins for DTC wine in the US recently.
Mark Hicken from WineLaw.ca reports on legal issues affecting the Canadian wine industry and is a great resource for Canadian vintners. Imagine Niagara region wineries having access to larger markets outside of Ontario. It would make a major difference in online wine sales for Canadian wineries.
So, How Do You Successfully Sell Wine Online?
If you want to sell more wine online – you will need to do a few things:
- Email is the most effective way to drive traffic. Collect email addresses in the tasting room, thank your guest for their visit, and have them come back to purchase online. It is the single most profitable thing you can do. Your best online customers will have probably had a great experience at your tasting room and emails turn tasting room buyers into long term, repeat customers.
- Care about mobile. Today, almost 50% of internet traffic comes from a mobile phone. You have to have a mobile friendly site (hopefully a responsive design), or risk losing sales due to a bad mobile experience for the customer.
- Pay attention to the user experience. In your tasting room, people buy more when the user experience is great. Online, Zappos is so successful because it’s a great customer experience. Online wine buyers want large bottle shots, easy to understand promotions, great shipping rates and a simple checkout process on the web.
What's the Future of Digital Wine Marketing?
Two years out everything will be about omni-channel. The difference between the tasting room and your website will be blurred. We are seeing this now – and it will only continue. Digital marketing is playing a bigger role in the tasting room.
- It’s about capturing customer data – the customer is more important than the transaction.
- Wineries are playing with SMS (especially around package delivery and tracking – but also for events and specific promotions).
- Wineries are looking for technology to decrease wait times in long lines (especially at events). We are seeing a growth in “self-serve” type applications, resulting in a better checkout experience.