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May 2, 2008 | Wine Industry Trends | WineDirect Admin

Can high gas prices boost online wine sales?

Hey - it’s Friday and it’s time for a little business speculation. So how would high gas prices and Federal Tax rebates affect online wine sales? Can’t read the tea leaves yet, but there’s an interesting study from Harris Interactive for iCongo that provides some clues.

According to the study: “One third (33 percent) of online U.S. adults indicated they are more likely to shop online rather than in-person at a store due to the high price of gasoline.”

Sounds like good news for online wine sales to me. If sales are steady, this would translate to a shift of channels, from off-line to on-line retail. However, given wine’s relatively high shipping costs, this perceived effect may be moot. The study provides another highlight that suggests a way for wineries to take advantage of the potential shift: “57 percent of online adults said free shipping is a reason they are more likely to shop online as opposed to in a physical store”. This would confirm that running free shipping discount promos (or rather $0.01 shipping to be safe) make for a smart email campaign. Free shipping on half case order are always very effective promos in my experience.

Another heartening tidbit of this study is that “61 percent cited the ability to shop at any time as a reason they are more likely to shop online instead of in a store.” That’s really no surprise, but it confirms the steady trend of shifting consumer purchasing behaviors. The shift to online purchasing continues and for wineries to maintain strong direct sales, they must apply laser-like focus on their online sales&marketing skills. Your website really is the extension of your tasting room and can bring in more sales if leveraged effectively.

Oh, and the iCongo guys behind this study also say that rebate checks will have an effect on shopping attitudes. They found that roughly half of consumers plan on spending their upcoming Federal tax rebate on retail purchases. I personally think that buying a case of good age-worthy cabernet (or a stellar Kabinett) would be a good long term investment for those rebate dollars.

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