Sheri Hebbeln
January 13, 2012 | eCommerce | Sheri Hebbeln

Characteristics of a Great Winery Website

Are you missing out on opportunities in Direct-to-Consumer eCommerce?

Retailers often have an advantage over producers where eCommerce is concerned because this is their bread and butter. Buyers have become accustomed to shopping through retail sites and consequently they hold certain expectations regarding the user experience. As a producer, it’s important for you to meet those expectations.

There are a number of reasons you may be losing out on Direct-to-Consumer opportunities:

  1. Your customers are unaware that you have a web presence, or they may be unable to find your website
  2. Perhaps previous experience with your site has been less than perfect. Even if it’s improved a great deal since your early days online, you may have trouble winning them back.
  3. It could be that experience with winery sites as a whole has been poor; in which case customers may have been conditioned to go directly to retailers. Retailer sites often have better features and functionality, particularly when it comes to finding what you’re looking for.

How can you overcome these challenges? You can start by working to build awareness and by following some basic principles regarding the design and navigation of your website.

Building Awareness

  1. It may seem obvious, but remember to put your URL on every piece of marketing material that goes out (newsletters, package inserts, advertisements, etc.).  
  2. Do a little bit of research on SEO and make sure your title tags, marketing URLs and site content are optimized for search engines. Statistics show that 42% of search users click the top-ranking link, while just 8% click the second-ranking link. Your name should come up first in an Internet search for your brand or for your wines. If you’re not doing it today, you should also consider using Google AdWords to promote your brand.  
  3. Use analytics to gain an understanding of your customers and learn how they interact with your website. How are customers finding you and which pages do they tend to exit from? Use this information to continually improve the customer experience.

Basic Web Principles


Last month I put together a quick list of design tips which you can read here. In addition to these basic tips, you’ll want to make sure your site displays well in all browsers. See this link for some interesting browser usage statistics. Usage among the top three has changed pretty dramatically over the past several years.


Can your website visitors easily find what they’re looking for? Website navigation is often taken for granted, but research by User Interface Engineering shows that it’s a significant issue for customers. Their research indicates that people can’t find what they’re looking for 60% of the time. Even more importantly, Forrester Research estimates that approximately 50% of potential sales are lost because users can’t find the information they’re looking for. Your navigation should be prominent, i.e. it should be at the top of the page or above the fold on either side. It should also be logical with link copy that makes sense. For a good overview of navigation usability, see this article.

Just for fun, here is an example:

Great Navigation


The Anatomy of a Perfect Website (Infographic)
The Do's and Dont's of Website Navigation Usability


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