Sheri Hebbeln
December 17, 2013 | Sheri Hebbeln

How wineries can be more like Amazon

As e-commerce skyrockets in popularity, it's difficult for small and midsized wineries to keep up with online retail giants like Amazon. But you can use smallness to your advantage this year. Sure, it seems like Amazon has it all - low prices, assortment, easy transactions and top-notch logistics. However, this isn't what sets the company apart. It's the high-quality customer experience, according to Quartz. Unlike the same-day delivery approach Amazon is piloting, customer experience is something you can emulate in your e-commerce strategy. Here are some considerations for boosting satisfaction and loyalty:

Know your customers
Rather than focusing on what Amazon is doing, you should pay attention to your customers. What are your top-selling wines? Gaining insights into consumer behavior can help you make improvements to your website. For example, you can auto-fill returning clients' information on the checkout page to save them time. Another option is to consider interactive Web design that allows customers to answer a few questions about their lifestyles to generate recommendations for different types of wine.

Let online shoppers dictate to offers
Instead of highlighting specialty vintages, you can consider allowing customers to select a few wines as part of a package and create an offer based on their choices, Business News Daily stated. This can add a more personal feel to online wine sales, and customers will appreciate the uniqueness.

Highlight your industry expertise
Online retailing is a fight to gain credibility. Shoppers have thousands of choices so wineries that emphasize their knowledge can wine customers over. Knowledge is power, and this is quickly becoming a critical part of customer experience, Quartz said.

Maintain personal customer service
Even though online shopping is far more sophisticated than it was even a few years ago, people still need to ask questions about products. Particularly if a consumer is new to wine collecting, he or she may need suggestions to get started. Wine can also be difficult to buy online because some people may be reluctant to commit to an order without tasting different options.

Since wineries have physical locations, this a clear advantage over exclusively online retailers. Make sure that you have customer service staff scheduled whenever possible to deliver personal attention to clients when they need it.

Implement air-tight inventory management practices
There's no quicker way to lose customers than run out of wines they ordered. While this is more of a function that happens behind the scenes, it's still critical for being able to successfully compete in the e-commerce world, according to Business News Daily.

Make shipping wine as easy as possible
One of the reasons Amazon is the leader in online retailing is because it can guarantee when products will be delivered. While you can't offer free shipping, you can emphasize speed and tell customers exactly when their orders can be expected. Well-organized e-commerce fulfillment will go a long way toward building client satisfaction.

Don't just focus on the transaction - think about the future
Part of what will determine your success in the e-commerce realm is turning consumers into long-term customers. If you can think of new ways to help shoppers, implement them. Quartz gave the example of Warby Parker, an online eyewear retailer that has a program where customers can choose five pairs of glasses to try on for free at home and select the one they like best to purchase. Like wine, eyewear can be challenging to buy online, so this can boost satisfaction. Sure, this exact promotion may not work for wine, but you can use this idea to find unique ways to meet your clients' needs.


Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Dec 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM
Why couldn't a winery offer free shipping? They are selling the wine at full retail instead of wholesale price. Especially for a new customer. One-time use promo codes can be used. There could be a minimum purchase price but this is a very good way to build loyalty. And/or offer reduced price 2 or 3-day air shipping.

There are many things a winery can do to enhance e-commerce. Email offers. Discounts to frequent buyers. Offering new wines first to established customers. Offer a "wine club for a day" to entice people to join. Far too many wineries simply publish their wine list and hope people will buy. Establishing relationships with customers is a far better choice than seeing how much money was made on a particular sale.

Andrew Kamphuis's Gravatar
Andrew Kamphuis
@ Dec 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM
It's not just free shipping - its also speed to my home. Amazon can delivery to me same day, Zappos in two days, and Wine takes 7 days. (I've forgot about it often before it arrives)

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