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Sheri Hebbeln
 
April 23, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Thinking outside the box with email marketing

Even though there are newer marketing channels wineries can employ to gain a following, email should still be a key component of your strategy. In the world of mobile devices and social media, email is still a great way to connect with customers. This channel can serve a variety of functions to boost the results of your online wine store. However, your wine marketing needs to provide relevant information for shoppers rather than annoying them with messages that are too frequent, according to Practical Ecommerce.

Email still works, but you need to update how you use it. Many consumers scan their inboxes from their mobile devices, and if a message doesn't display correctly, they may delete it without reading it - or worse, unsubscribe from future communications. While email has nearly boundless potential, it's important not to overuse a single tactic. In addition, it can be beneficial to let customers opt in for emails, rather than automatically subscribing them when they make their first purchases. It's also a good idea to allow subscribers to select their own frequency so they don't feel bombarded. Practical Ecommerce suggested using brief surveys to determine how customers perceive your marketing efforts.

Here are several ways that you can utilize email in more modern ways:

1. Back in stock alerts
It's frustrating for customers when they visit your website with a certain wine in mind only to discover it's out of stock. Some retailers use back in stock emails to notify customers when they have the product in inventory again, Multichannel Merchant stated. These messages typically see high open rates and good conversion. When an item is out of stock, you can offer shoppers the option to be notified when it returns. If the product won't be available again, you can extend a sincere apology and offer suggestions of wines customers may like instead based on their interests. Not only do back in stock notifications increase shopper satisfaction, but they build your email database as well.

2. Personalization
The days of mass email blasts are long gone. Personalization is the running trend in email marketing, and it should not be ignored, Practical Ecommerce said. Customers only want to receive relevant information and offers from brands. Technology has caught up, enabling wineries to cater to customer preferences, including shopping behaviors, profiles and previous purchases. Personalization can keep customers engaged with your marketing in the long term.

3. Shopping cart abandonment emails
Email has a wide variety of roles in the ecommerce world. Many online merchants are plagued by shopping cart abandonment. A large number of transactions are never completed, and retailers can lose a lot of money. While shopping cart abandonment can be an indication that there are deep flaws in winery websites, people interact with ecommerce platforms in different ways. Some people will use the basket to browse while they compare prices on different sites or place items in the cart to remember for later. Often, shoppers will forget that they stored items in the cart, which means sending an email can remind them to return to your site and finish the transaction.

4. Responsive Web design
Because of the wide adoption of mobile devices, many retailers have struggled to reach customers across different channels. Consumers don't have patience for emails that don't display on mobile. However, there's no guarantee what device they will use to read email. Responsive Web design adapts to the device, ensuring each recipient gets the same functionality. This keeps email consistent for all users, and it can potentially prevent people from unsubscribing.

Karin Ballestrazze
 
April 22, 2014 | Karin Ballestrazze

How wineries can take cues from Amazon

Amazon is the top online retailer - with good reason. It started out as an Internet bookseller and branched into nearly every other product category, largely on the strength of its ecommerce fulfillment. While many other online merchants attempt to compete with this giant to little success, wineries do not need to see Amazon as a threat. Most small retailers can't match the company on shipping speed or product availability. However, you can follow certain examples set by Amazon to improve your ecommerce offerings and wine shipping

A Monetate white paper, "Amazon: How One Company Dominates Online Retail (and what your business can do about it)," analyzed how the retail giant came to be the No. 1 player in ecommerce. In addition, Monetate looked at some mistakes traditional retailers have made when entering the online space. Some merchants tried to directly translate the in-store experience into the online realm. While online-exclusive companies have made the experience as convenient as possible for consumers, retailers with a physical presence have struggled to move to the Web. For example, less successful websites may include poorly timed upsells, such as trying to get customers to add to their orders when they are already halfway through the checkout process. Monetate suggests one of the reasons Amazon is so successful at what it does is because its website is centered around conversions and quality customer experience.

With this in mind, here are some suggestions for how you can follow Amazon's lead and improve the service customers receive when they order wine online:

1. Add a sense of urgency
Customers are more likely to buy rather than browse if they think a product will be out of stock when they return to the website. It can be difficult to keep your most popular products in stock, but including information directly on the page when items are running low can lead to a boost in online wine sales. The number does not need to be exact, but including it can encourage people to buy right away instead of waiting.

2. Don't force brand loyalty
Your best customers should be rewarded. This increases satisfaction and ensures they keep coming back in the long term. However, many retailers try to win loyalty by offering discounts for continued purchases, a separate blog post for Monetate said. While this can sustain revenue, it doesn't lead to lasting loyalty.

3. Save the upsell until after checkout
Amazon uses data-driven marketing to great effect with targeted product recommendations based on purchase history. However, some retailers try to do this during checkout based on browsing history, and this can cause customers to abandon their purchases. Another thing Amazon has done extremely well is streamlining checkout to include as few steps as possible. It's important to avoid slowing this process down.

Ways wineries can step up and fill gaps left by Amazon
No company is perfect, and although Amazon has a highly specific online customer experience, there are elements it doesn't include in its approach. Monetate suggested the following tactics for wineries to differentiate their websites:

  • Include more product photos: Text-based product pages can be disorienting for consumers. Adding more images can help.
  • Build the experience around what customers care about: Because wineries aren't trying to sell as many different product categories as Amazon, this tip may be easy. Pay attention to your busiest seasons, order frequency, the relationship between items purchased and other information to incorporate it into your wine marketing
  • Send more relevant emails: While abandoned shopping cart trigger messages can help you recapture lost sales, personalization can go further. Open-time personalization - content that changes based on when recipients actually view the message - may be useful for wineries. 
Sheri Hebbeln
 
April 21, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

How to boost online wine sales with website design

It can be difficult to offer the same caliber experience on your winery's website that customers would receive if they visited in person. The design and ease of use can make or break a customer's decision to buy wine online. Here are some tips on how to revamp the design of your page to encourage a higher number of conversions:

1. Enable browsing
According to ShopVisible's "10 Ecommerce Site Improvements to Increase Conversions" report, the majority of visitors on the typical retailer website are initially just browsing. Often, these shoppers don't arrive on the page with a specific product in mind, but setting up your website to clearly list all categories can make it easier for people to find what they want. In this way, the website navigation should mimic that of a department store. In physical retail outlets, the different sections are clearly labeled. It's difficult to convert customers if the browsing experience isn't user friendly.

2. Emphasize security
People can't see the actual products they're buying or get a true sense of the retailer when they shop online, which means they care about purchasing from a secure site, Ignite Digital stated. In the wake of several high-profile data breaches at major retailers, customers are more concerned about protecting their personal and financial information. To reassure consumers, it may be worthwhile to include a security badge on your website, especially on the checkout pages. This can prevent you from losing online wine sales because customers don't trust the website.

3. Update your filtering and sorting options
When people visit winery websites with a specific variety in mind, they want it to be easy to find. Price ranges, varieties, new arrivals, best sellers and best reviewed wines can make the browsing experience more pleasant for consumers, ShopVisible said.

4. Include vivid images
Consuming wine is a sensory experience, from the color and scent to the taste of the product. It can be difficult to replicate this online, but vibrant, high-quality images can help leave a more memorable impression on shoppers. You can consider using pop-out images so shoppers can zoom in and view more information, according to Ignite Digital. Including multiple images per product can help as well.

5. Offer extensive product information
People want to know what they are getting when they order wine online. Including detailed product descriptions can build consumer trust, ShopVisible pointed out. You can list tasting notes and give pairing suggestions to help shoppers make an informed decision. However, you need to be careful to not bog down product pages with too much text. Information should be presented in an easy-to-read format.

6. Price transparency
Customers do not want to dig around for pricing information - or worse, find out that the costs are much higher than expected during the checkout process. For wine shipping fees, consider adding a calculator to generate an estimate of the added expense so consumers aren't shocked at the end of the transaction. If you utilize a multichannel approach, the base charges for wine should be the same across every customer touch point. If shoppers find out they can acquire wine for a lower price depending on the channel, they'll be frustrated. 

7. Streamline the checkout process
When customers have decided to purchase from you, the transaction isn't over. A high percentage of shopping cart abandonment occurs because of lengthy or complicated checkout processes. If consumers feel they are being asked for too much information or there are too many steps, they may leave your website. Only ask for the information you need to process the transaction. It can be helpful to add an outline of the steps at the top of the page so customers know how much longer the purchase will take to complete. 

Jim Agger
 
April 18, 2014 | Jim Agger

Is your ecommerce fulfillment strategy prepared for modern challenges?

Discounted shipping or shipping included for many ecommerce purchases is a customer expectation rather than an added incentive. Many savvy retailers have realized that discounted shipping encourages customers to spend more, especially if they have to qualify for a price limit to get the offer, according to Practical Ecommerce. This approach can put strain on retailers as they race to lower costs for consumers, but the increase in revenue typically pays off. To offer customers the best experience possible while keeping your operating costs reasonable, you need to assess your inventory management, ecommerce fulfillment and wine shipping strategies. 

Here are some ways your winery can bring shipping operations up to speed to stay competitive:

1. Inventory management needs to shift to omnichannel
As wineries add new customer touch points, inventory management practices need to keep pace. Your wine inventory software needs to be streamlined so all data is kept in one place. More systems add confusion and lead to errors, Multichannel Merchant's "The State of Operations 2014" study reported. It isn't enough to sell wine online and through your winery - you have to offer customers the option to choose their preferred channels. In fact, the more integrated your enterprise systems are, the more efficiently your enterprise will run. 

2. Don't pretend returns never happen
As much as it pains you to process them, returns are going to happen. However, if you focus on making this experience as easy as possible for customers, it can be an opportunity to build satisfaction, according to the Multichannel Merchant report. The first step to improving how you process returns is ensuring you have a clear policy that's included in a highly visible page during checkout. If there are restrictions on returns or exchanges, do not try to obscure these in fine print. Always include the time limit. Consumers return products for a variety of reasons, and giving them the choice of an exchange can boost satisfaction. It may also be a good idea to include return information on the package just in case. This reduces the number of customer calls. If returns and exchanges are handled properly, it increases the chance that consumers will shop with you again. Although it can be hassle, returns provide several key business opportunities. 

3. Outsource ecommerce fulfillment
Outsourcing shipping to an experienced fulfillment partner is an effective way to reduce costs and create a more flexible strategy. This approach allows you to save on fixed overhead costs, such as renting wine warehouse space and packaging supplies, which can impact your margins. The right partner will be able to help you capture carrier discounts so you can pass savings on to your customers. Some providers even operate from multiple warehouses, which can put you in a more competitive shipping zone - allowing rates to be further reduced. The added flexibility allows you to be better prepared for slow seasons. Although these providers charge a fee, it can end up being cheaper than what wineries would spend to ship wine themselves. 

 

Sheri Hebbeln
 
April 17, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Email marketing could help you sell more wine

If your wine marketing strategies don't include email, you could be missing many big opportunities to gain new customers or engage with existing ones. However, there are a number of misconceptions about this advertising channel that could be holding your winery back.

Recent research from Campaigner, an email marketing campaign platform, revealed that much of what brands know about email is wrong. One of the most common myths about email marketing is that it isn't relevant anymore and has been replaced by more advanced digital channels such as social media. This is simply not the case - however, it depends on how brands use direct mail to further their initiatives. Most companies that don't experience good results aren't using this tool properly. 

"Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective tools that marketers can utilize to drive traffic and increase sales, but there are many myths around executing a successful campaign," said EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner.

Don't let these misconceptions about email lead you astray
If your winery wants to sell wine online, email marketing may be the way to attract more attention to your merchandise. In addition to email being outmoded, here's a look at a few other myths that Campaigner debunked:

  • Emails should be sent on a particular day of the week, at a certain time: There have been a number of studies about the optimal times for sending emails based on when recipients are most likely to open them. However, if you cater to varied customer segments, these groups may open emails at different times. The reporting features in your email marketing platform can help you make the best decisions about when to send communications.
  • Be consistent across your entire database when it comes to frequency: It can be difficult to determine the right number of messages and how to space them out. It can be more worthwhile for wineries to account for customer preferences. When people subscribe to your list, you can give them the option to select the frequency of emails. Too many messages can cause people to unsubscribe from your list. 
  • Avoid word choices that would direct the email to spam: Words like "dollar" and "free" have long been thought to trigger a landing in the spam folder. Campaigner found that an email getting marked as spam was more likely the result of how recipients are interacting with the message. If they open it and click through to your winery's website, it probably won't be marked as spam. If customers are immediately deleting or unsubscribing, you'll see a different result.

How to modernize your email efforts
As ecommerce continues to gain popularity, it's apparent that email marketing is far from useless. However, you may need to update your strategies to keep seeing high results and good return on investment, according to Econsultancy. Fortunately for marketers, technology is catching up to keep email relevant. Personalization will become more important. Customers have less tolerance for blanket email blasts that send the same offer to everyone. You need to consider your groups of clients and wine club members and determine what promotion will most grab their attention. For example, if customers haven't purchased in a while, you can offer them discounted wine shipping.

Email will need to become more mobile. Many consumers rely on their smartphones to scan through their inboxes, and they won't be patient with messages that don't load within a few seconds or display properly. Despite the new developments in email marketing, this channel doesn't need to create more work for wineries. Econsultancy predicts that the majority of email campaigns will be automated within a few years. 

Karin Ballestrazze
 
April 16, 2014 | Karin Ballestrazze

Focus on customer loyalty to increase online wine sales

Customer loyalty is essential for maintaining high levels of online wine sales, but it's harder to keep clients happy in the digital era. According to a recent study from BIA/Kelsey and Manta, many small and midsize businesses have recognized loyal clients as a continuous source of revenue growth and invest in building the relationship. Multiple reports have demonstrated that customer acquisition is more costly than retention efforts, and the gains from new clients aren't as significant as loyal customers. In addition, satisfied shoppers are a great source of referrals. This can help you get new business without raising acquisition costs.

Loyalty is more important as retail increasingly moves online. The continued success of your online wine store depends on forming lasting relationships with clients and getting repeat business. However, some businesses try to encourage repeat purchases by implementing generic loyalty programs, Fast Company reported. For example, customers make nine purchases and the tenth is free. These reward systems use free or discounted items as an incentive to shop instead of emphasizing a high-quality experience. Customer service is the best way to create true, lasting loyalty, and you need to offer consistent experience through every channel.

Importance of having the right loyalty program
While businesses understand how lucrative their relationships with existing customers can be, many don't know how to market to this segment, the BIA/Kelsey suggested. In fact, two-thirds of the companies surveyed didn't have a loyalty program. Of the 34 percent of companies that did, more than half were using outmoded channels, such as paper or word-of-mouth programs. This type of loyalty builder doesn't have a measurable return on investment. 

For wineries looking to increase their direct-to-consumer sales or moving into selling wine online for the first time, existing customers will most likely make up the majority of revenue. Because these clients already trust and have a familiarity with your brand, they will be more receptive to upsells and cross-sells. The Internet has amplified word-of-mouth advertising with social media and online reviews, making loyal shoppers a great source of cost-effective referrals. However, your loyalty program needs to be tailored to customers' needs and preferences.

Tips for fostering loyalty
Even if your winery utilizes a primarily digital loyalty program, you still need to make personal connections with customers. Wine marketing needs to account for emotions to have a real impact of consumers. Although a great deal of client communications now take place online - especially for ecommerce businesses - customers want to feel like they are speaking to an actual person, according to iMedia Connection. The article suggests that emotions, particularly when it comes to warmth and perception, drive the majority of consumer behavior. Emotions mostly have not changed, despite the evolution of ecommerce. 

Instead of just having a loyalty program, excellent customer service can act as a competitive differentiator, Fast Company said. Even if clients have trouble ordering wine from the website or receive an inaccurate order, the opportunity for loyalty isn't automatically lost. Providing a solid resolution to customer issues can increase satisfaction and lead to lasting loyalty. 

Additionally, the BIA/Kelsey report suggested asking customers to opt in to loyalty programs. Retailers shouldn't assume that all shoppers will want to take part. Engaging the clients who do subscribe regularly through email can increase the effectiveness of the program. Email is a highly effective channel for boosting loyalty because it reminds customers of your brand. Depending on your winery, the right mix of strategies may be most relevant for your loyalty program. 

Karin Ballestrazze
 
April 15, 2014 | Karin Ballestrazze

Don't forget customer service when people buy wine online

Retail is increasingly moving online, but does your winery have the customer service practices in place to manage this changing landscape? While it may seem easier to offer assistance through the Internet, some companies overlook this channel. Providing top-of-the-line customer service - no matter how customers choose to buy - can increase online wine sales

The way winery websites are set up can play a significant role in whether shoppers have a good or bad experience, according to Business 2 Community. Ecommerce pages should always be set up to ensure transactions are as convenient as possible. This may mean streamlining the checkout process or offering resources on product pages to help consumers make decisions. 

What makes a good ecommerce customer experience?
Although the Internet can make you feel far removed from your customers, they still want a human interaction when they reach out to you. Offering personal communications when you resolve problems can improve your business' reputation and lead to an increase in sales. The most successful ecommerce retailers offer more than one channel for customers to reach out when they have issues. Everyone is different - some shoppers will want to call when they have a problem and others prefer to email. This option can be especially beneficial when individuals run into issues outside of regular business hours. However, if you offer email service, the messages should be directed to a real person. 

Some consumers are even expressing a preference for contacting customer service reps through social media, Biz Report stated. Retailers that take this approach should create a specific handle or account dedicated to customer service to keep this experience separate from promotional materials or any other marketing communications. 

Ease of use plays a major role in how shoppers view the overall experience. While most ecommerce platforms allow customers to pay multiple ways, some people want to use more than one payment method per transaction, which can complicate things, Business 2 Community said. For example, if a customer received a gift certificate and spends more than the total amount, it should be easy to finish paying with a credit or debit card. 

Another common use of ecommerce websites is to send gifts. Many consumers select products for friends and family members and send them directly to the recipient. This process should be as easy as possible for shoppers. If you don't offer this option, customers may not stick around since their needs aren't being met.

Customer service pitfalls to avoid
Some online retailers are still struggling to handle customer service issues in the age of the Internet. Outsourcing client experience can complicate matters because there is often some disconnect between the retailer and its customers. Having direct contact with a winery representative helps to build the relationship, Business 2 Community suggested. Another bad strategy for managing customer service is having long wait times on the phone. Customers may have limited time or be anxious about purchases, and long wait times can cause the frustration to mount. If clients email about issues, it may be beneficial to have an automatic message to give them an idea of when they will receive a response.

One major detractor from customer experience is poor wine shipping options strategies. If you only offer one pricey shipping option, customers may avoid purchasing. Clients may be picky about the carrier or need their package within a certain time frame. If your options don't meet these requirements, shoppers will go somewhere else. 

If you suspect there are issues with your customer service practices, surveys can provide an indication of performance, Biz Report said. However, it's best to keep these short to avoid testing the patience of shoppers. 

Karin Ballestrazze
 
April 14, 2014 | Karin Ballestrazze

How to reduce shopping cart abandonment

If you think your online wine sales are adequate, you could still be missing a huge source of revenue. According to data from SalesCycle, online retailers may lose out on $3 trillion this year from shopping cart abandonment. However, consumers are predicted to spend $1.4 trillion on Internet shopping in 2014, which means retailers could miss out on potential profits. However, there are a number of strategies that wineries can employ to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase online revenue.

Reasons for cart abandonment
Customericare reported that there are three main reasons why consumers ditch purchases before completion: financial concerns, not ready to purchase and too many steps during checkout. In terms of financial qualms, higher-than-expected shipping causes were a major deterrent to purchasing. Some shoppers felt as though the costs were displayed too late in the process.

Consumers interact with ecommerce websites in different ways; people will place items in shopping carts to buy later or as they compare prices on other websites. However, complication during checkout is something retailers can usually adjust to improve user experience. Consumers can be turned off when registration is required to proceed with checkout. In addition, some individuals felt websites asked for too much information, and this raised concerns about security. If there are too many steps during checkout, customers are likely to get frustrated and drop the purchase.

Ways to curb shopping cart abandonment
Because a great deal of potential revenue is at stake, wineries need to take steps to reduce shopping cart abandonment. When clients order wine online, you can utilize some of the following tips to ensure purchases are completed:

  • Send triggered email reminders: Although abandonment can be an indication that winery websites have performance issues, this isn't always the case. In some cases, customers may be in the middle of something else or they lost an Internet connection, Customericare suggested. Especially if you offer a wide range of products on your website, saving all shopping carts can improve customer experience. Sending a personal email can remind shoppers about their baskets and boost conversion rates.
  • Make checkout simpler: Customers should only be required to input the information deemed necessary to process the transaction, according to Social Annex. Being forced to enter too many fields can significantly slow down the process, annoy shoppers and ultimately cause them to leave your website. Some retailers get around this predicament by offering an option to register through a social media profile. This way new customers don't need to take the time to register for an account. In addition, you can display the steps from the beginning so consumers have a better idea of how long the process will take.
  • Use a second call to action: Because some consumers use shopping carts as a reminder for items they intend to buy at a later time, retailers can give them the option to create a wishlist rather than leave a shopping cart waiting on the site. 
  • Show product availability: Another big cause of shopping cart abandonment is a lack of information about which products are in stock, Customericare said. You don't need to give exact figures, but it's important to show when something is out of stock rather than making customers wait to get checkout before discovering this information. Some businesses like Zappos give customers the option to be notified by email when a product comes back into stock. When supplies are low, retailers can create a sense of urgency, similar to Amazon's approach.
  • Offer customer service support during checkout: This is an easy way to boost the experience for shoppers. If clients run into issues with their credit cards or don't understand wine shipping options, having a phone number to call or online support can decrease the chances that they will drop a purchase.
Jim Agger
 
April 10, 2014 | Jim Agger

Offer Affordable Wine Shipping Options or Perish

Just a few short years ago, free shipping was an added bonus for buying products online. Now consumers have come to expect this whenever they engage in online shopping, which puts a great deal of pressure on wineries. Some Internet vendors are trying to cut through the expanse of options online with the lowest prices, but this isn't the only factor in purchasing decisions. Retailers need to make it worthwhile for customers to purchase on the Web rather than in a store - and this means it comes down to offering competitive ecommerce fulfillment.

When people shop online, they want to be able to find what they're looking for as quickly as possible. Once they make the purchase, they want convenient, affordable shipping options, according to The Street. If these expectations aren't met, consumers can easily find another online retailer with similar product offerings. Free or discounted shipping is a major competitive differentiator in ecommerce. 

Consumers want to feel like they are getting a deal, and they don't want to spend more than they have to for products. Shipping discounts can make shoppers feel as though they are getting added value in their purchases. Although wine shipping can't be done for free, discounts can help prevent fulfillment fees from becoming prohibitive. Here are some tips for how your winery can improve its shipping strategy to increase online wine sales:

1. Set a spending limit for discounted shipping
If people feel like they can get a deal on delivery, they may be more likely to add a couple more items to reach the threshold. This is particularly true if you include information about the savings on your website. In addition, shipping discounts can be used as a special marketing promotion, a blog post for Amsterdam Printing suggested. Setting a limited time for these offers can increase the sense of urgency and encourage people to buy. This can be a great strategy to boost sales during a particular time of year. 

2. Analyze purchasing patterns
Before cutting shipping prices, you need to understand customers' behavior to make sure you're using this strategy to your advantage. Does discounted fulfillment cause customers to spend more or are they buying the same number of products? How many repeat orders do you see? Do your customers engage with your wine marketing efforts? These concerns can help you define the most effective shipping strategy. 

3. Be transparent about shipping fees
Hidden shipping costs are a major factor in shopping cart abandonment. While adding items to the basket, customers get the idea that they will be paying a particular price, and they will quickly be frustrated if the final total is a lot more than what they were expecting, The Street said. One way to avoid this shock during checkout is to display estimated shipping costs as customers add items to their carts. This is particularly effective if you display the discounts they can get with your wine shipping. It's also a good idea to offer more than one option. Shoppers will have different needs. Some people may not need their cases of wine in two days, and they may not want to pay extra for the increased speed.

4. Consider offering shipping subscriptions
You can take a cue from Amazon Prime and offer annual subscriptions for repeat customers. This can encourage people to buy more frequently since they will have already paid shipping fees. Implementing this strategy can ensure a more consistent stream of online revenue. Because shipping wine can prove to be costly, a subscription service can act as a tool to build client loyalty.

Sheri Hebbeln
 
April 9, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Revolutionary trends in retail for 2014

The retail industry has changed dramatically in the span of just a few years. If you sell wine online, you need to be prepared for new trends and disruptive forces. How your business adapts to these developments may determine your success in the future. 

Consumer preferences are driving a large number of the shifts, according to Practical Ecommerce. There could be a huge opportunity for boosting online wine sales - studies have indicated that people under the age of 40 prefer to shop on the Web. This trend means shoppers are spending more time researching online before they buy. Even if customers purchase from inside your winery, they may have researched your products beforehand. 

Despite the overarching love of ecommerce, consumer expectations are higher than ever before. One of the major barriers to ecommerce adoption in the past was the fact that the online experience could not instantaneously deliver products to customers. Shoppers could go to physical store locations and buy products immediately. However, many ecommerce companies have created increasingly faster shipping, and the possibility of same-day delivery doesn't appear to be too far down the road. In addition, some retailers are offering in-store pickup so shoppers can get products faster. Not only do consumers want the fastest ecommerce fulfillment possible, but they expect free or discounted shipping. While the expectation of free shipping may seem like a lot to offer, shoppers also want the ability to return items they don't like for free. Speedy deliveries were once a way to exceed customer expectations, but quick shipping will become nearly mandatory in the future.

The demand for speedy wine shipping doesn't account for location. Even if you're catering to customers on the other side of the country, customers expect orders to show up within a few days, the article said. 

Technology is changing the type of service retailers can offer
Although consumers are putting pressure on retailers to offer a top-notch ecommerce experience, there are a number of technological tools you can adopt to stay competitive. For example, wine inventory software can help you manage stocks more efficiently. This is particularly helpful if you operate from multiple wine warehouses because it allows you to ship from the location that is closest to the customer. Radio frequency identification technology is helping retailers manage their inventories more effectively than they could in the past, Multichannel Merchant stated. RFID saves time and money by eliminating the scanning of individual items.

Consumers also want payment flexibility, so you may need to consider the capabilities of your point of sale system. Although it's a fairly new concept, more retailers are accepting digital currency such as Bitcoins for purchases. While it may seem like only accepting credit and debit payments will work for an online wine store, many consumers are utilizing PayPal and Google Wallet, Practical Ecommerce pointed out. 

While the online experience is important in the modern retail world, the focus will soon shift to seamless shopping. For example, if consumers add items to their online shopping carts from a mobile device and return to your website from a desktop computer to complete the purchase later, they want the same products to be saved.

Another system retailers are using to maintain an omnichannel experience is pricing automation, according to the article. Customers don't want to pay different prices for items based on the channel they use to purchase them. These systems can automatically update prices in real time across each channel to deliver a more consistent experience.