Build it and they will come… or will they?
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions about websites is that they are consumer magnets. I think of them as lemonade stands… in the middle of the desert. If the stand is not right next to a busy highway and there are no HUGE billboards pointing in the direction of the lemonade stand, chances are no one is going to find it - or even look for it. Even more likely is that there are millions of other lemonade stands, just like yours, dotted here and there on the landscape. How will you differentiate yourself from the throng? Selling pink lemonade might not be enough.
Make sure someone is in charge.A website (ecommerce) is another channel (like a tasting room) that resources must be allocated to. Not only should part of the marketing and operations budget be alloted for this channel but so should personnel. Too often the tasting room or wine club managers are asked to handle ecom, almost as an aside and the channel doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Hire a direct sales manager to: maintain your “virtual storefront” including keeping products up to date with those available in the tasting room, cultivate loyal customers by communicating with them on a regular basis, and deliver information (on your site) in a consistent and effective manner.
Make sure there are lots of signs, with arrows. Point people towards your site; tell the world. Make sure all collateral materials have your URL printed on them, including labels and corks. Let your tasting room visitors know they can purchase your wine after they return home - on your website. In addition, keeping your content fresh and changing it often along with good keywords will help your SEO and keep your customers returning again and again.
Unfortunately, building a website will not generate sales, but treating your Direct-to-Consumer channel as an extension of your tasting room is a step in the right direction.