Why is the wine business slow to adapt successful website sales tactics from other categories?
Perhaps the reasons are a field-blend of not wanting to turn off potential buyers by “selling too hard,” some “we don’t sell much off the website anyways,” and there is always a little bit of “that won’t work in our business, we’re different.”
Our stance is thus: consumers looking at your website are at the same time looking at other ecommerce websites, and are in a frame of mind to expect more of the same. They expect more ecommerce tools and functions that make THEIR life easier, and they expect less of the things that make their life hard (like too many clicks). Also, consumers like to see that you are up to date, and that reflects well on your brand.
Let’s pop the cork and see what this smells and tastes like:
1) Streamline the the purchase path to your wine.
Reduce the barriers (read: clicks) to your products. whether they be wine or wine club signups. You likely are using a hosted shopping cart solution, so don’t have any control over how many clicks the buyer has inside the checkout process, but you can control how many clicks before the checkout, when a buyer is trying to put wine into the cart.
Will we ever get as close as 1 click shopping on Amazon? Doubtful, but we do need to think hard about any site that is 4-5 or more clicks just to put some wine in the shopping cart and fudge around with quantiites before they get to the checkout page (where another 3-10 clicks await our hapless buyer).
Arranging wine in nice heirarchies suits our right-sided brain, but products arranged in such a way that buyers have to go through reds, then cabs, then see the vintage or cuvee they want? The experience does not need to feel like navigating a flow chart.
What to do? Ideally, for a small catalog (even up to 12), all the wines should be displayed together on one page. Most popular items up front and center, and available directly from the front page via an image, rather than having to find the menu item called “shop”.
Some ecommerce carts are more fleixble than others, and there are ‘hacks’ to reduce clicks on some of the ecommerce carts – if you need help, just ask us.
And don’t require 3-4 clicks of age verification just to get into the site. There are other, better ways.
2) Email capture
Time and time again you have heard that you need to collet emails; so much so that it begins to be background noise. So maybe this is not such a secret.
But email is more powerful than you give it credit for – that’s the secret. It really is That important. When a stranger visits your web site one time, you need a way to continue the conversation after they leave.The most successful ecommerce sites are actively using email followup to increase sales up to 3X.The idea is to complete the sales process after they leave (and have not bought), and to do that we need an email.
Not everyone visiting your site is ready to buy something, but they are willing to leave their email if they a) believe you won’t spam them, and b) can unsubscribe at any time. There is a higher level of trust with a wine brand than with other ecommerce sellers, and almost by default the visitor believes that you would not spam them and there would be an easy unsibscribe process. So, wine site visitors are the perfect audience to ask for emails. It’s a real wonder why it’s not done more!
Should you leave email collection to your “join our list” signup form? That depends on your web traffic so far. Check your logs, and if over 80% of site visitors are leaving emails, then you’re done! If it’s less, and it most likely is, you need to consider another “offer” to trade for their email.
Bait for emails could be a giveaway/sweepstakes offered on Facebook (and other channels), RSVP to events, notification of some special event or future release that is made to sound special.
Proper followup is key too. It is not nearly as effective a sales tactic to ask someone to “Join our list” then only send them an email at your next release, which may be months later.
No, a proper “drip” campaign with a specific goal at the end of the campaign is the way to go. That goal is not “stick around and remember us until we email you in the futuer.” A goal that drives sales is a purchase that further entwines the buyer to the brand. It does not need to be as big as a club signup, although that is a notable goal for the drip campaign too, of course.
So collect wine-buyer emails all the time – from the tasting room, from events, from everywhere. And of course, collect from your website.
3) Free shipping,
Free Shipping (really 1$ shipping) is another ecommerce secret that we don’t see enough of in the wine trade. Of course this is due to the high cost of shipping wine, and owners not wanting “to loose money on the transaction”.
But if a dributor or broker showed up and said they would move X cases of wine, minus their fee of course, would you do it? So, consider that the loss on shipping is the brokerage fee. (We’re assuming you said yes to the above!)
You can (and many do) limit the wines that are eligible for free shipping, giving favor to some gift sets and starter/taster packs. Also it is best to limit the offer to 6+ botles, or even a case. At 6-12 bottles the gross margin is more attractive and the per-bottle cost to ship 6/12 is much lower than singles/doubles.
You can also limit the offer geographically. You can advertise free shipping but it will be for CA, AZ, and NV only where you can get cheap GSO. But before doing this, check the web statistics and sales logs to see where traffic and buyers are coming from. Don’t worry about the occasional shipment to, say, Chicago if most of your customers so far have been from California.
4) “Introductory Purchases”
In the 90′s movie with Bill Murray titled “What About Bob” we learn that all big issues can be overcome with “baby steps”. And that is the process we want to emulate online with a wine ecommerce site.
The large issue for the non-buying visitors to your site is that they are not yet completely comfortable with you. Sure, the guarantee and the free shipping reduce a lot of the risk, but web visitors are busy and are fickle. They want to do something, but can’t yet bring themselves to buy a case or 1/2 case in order to qualify for free shipping.
For them, we want to break the Ice with a smaller item, meant to incentivize the client to create an account on (yet another) web shopping cart, and give us a chance to earn their repeat business through great customer attention and personalized followup selling.
In wine an introductory purchase could look like a “sampler” or “discovery pack.” If your wine is loved by all who taste it, but you struggle to get enough tasters, then this is the secret for you. Assemble the right mix of a few or more bottles, include shipping in the price, and sell it for a target “awesome deal” number, such as $99.
Next season, look into bottling more splits and have 2-3 to create a taster with.
Remarketing is considered an advanced marketing tactic, but it’s not out of reach.
You must have had the experience: you visit an ecommerce site like Zappos or eBay, or many others, and after you leave and surf elsewhere on the web, you see ads for the site or even the products you were looking at earlier. And you’re no longer on that site! Spooky? – sure. Powerful? – you bet.
What could we do with that on a winery website? Primarily we use it to keep the brand top of mind. So many web visitors come back to the site to remind themselves of an experience they had, and think about doing something more. But “doing something more” like buying wine or joining the club actually takes time, and the prospect gets interupted and drifts away. Remarketing helps bring them back.
Remarketing also helps with your trade relations. Imagine a distributor rep on your site looking for collateral. For days later, they see your ads and are reminded to push your brand!
Google has the info on how to set up a remarketing campaign if you manage your own adwords account. Otherwise ask whomever handles adwords for you, or if you’ve not used adwords yet, pull us in to help.
Have a different secret, or want to tell us what has been your experience with any of these 5 if you have tried them? Leave a comment below. That’s all for now, but more secrets in the next instalment! Be sure to get on our list for notification.