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Sheri Hebbeln
 
April 21, 2008 | Compliance, eCommerce , Email Marketing , Site Design and Management , Wine Industry Trends | Sheri Hebbeln

Free is Good

As it appears we’re moving closer and closer to a recession, one interesting fact has come to light: the Internet continues to be one of the few areas where many multi-channel retailers are experiencing sales growth. According to an article by Internet Retailer this month, the web currently accounts for only 10% of The Talbots Inc’s sales but accounted for 68% of sales growth in 2007. Likewise for many other merchants – Staples, Circuit City and the Gap are three examples cited in the article. Another interesting statistic mentioned – online spending by households with higher incomes grew more rapidly than households with lower income (this is according to comScore, Inc.). Year over year growth in the over $100,000 category was 28%, while those in the $50,000 to $100,000 category spent 17% more than the previous year. This is a statistic which is not lost on the wine industry. And given the fact that margins are clearly higher for direct sales, I think this year, more than ever before, is a perfect year to concentrate on increasing direct sales. With a down economy facing us, a secondary goal of course, is to protect against margin erosion as much as possible - which leads to the title of this post. There are two free tools available today to help you increase online sales and protect against margin erosion.

Google Analytics

I know many people are intimidated by the mere thought of analytics, especially if math was not a favorite subject in school. And if you’re one of those people, I would suggest taking a look at Google Analytics from a slightly different perspective. When you get right down to it, all of the numbers and graphs you see are really designed for one purpose: to give you a glimpse into human behavior. To further simplify, there are really two things you are looking for in all of the numbers:

  1. how are people arriving at your site, and
  2. what are they doing once they get there? Remember that each click you see in your Google Analytics statistics represents an actual human being.

How are people arriving at your site?

Look at specific keywords and search engines consumers are using to find you. Then take a look at the pages they are landing on. Are they finding what they’re looking for on those pages? If not, what can you do to improve your landing pages and increase conversion rates?

What are they doing once they get there?

This is where the funnels available to you in Google Analytics become extremely interesting. Where are customers leaving in the sales process? After looking at your Google Analytics numbers, I always feel it is important to go back to the website and look at it through the eyes of your visitors. Follow the same path you are seeing your own customers taking. Why are they leaving when they do? What changes can you make to those pages to encourage them to proceed to the next step?

Even the slightest change in conversion rates can be significant in terms of your top-line revenues.

Rethink Compliance™

As many of you know already, our REthink Compliance™ tool was released this past week to all US wineries, fulfillment houses, and compliance services. And the response has been amazing. As the tool is free to all, I can’t think of a better way to protect against margin erosion. REthink Compliance™ greatly simplifies your direct shipment reporting for each state, meaning you have more time to devote to increasing those conversion rates. So if you haven’t already done so, I would strongly encourage you to register and to sign up for a webinar to see exactly what the tool has to offer.
 

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