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Sheri Hebbeln
 
February 3, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Offer Competitive Wine Shipping Rates to Boost Online Sales

Questions about wine shipping can threaten the competitiveness of an online wine store. Although many online shoppers are coming to expect free shipping on every order, this isn't a perk wineries can offer. However, you can still boost customer satisfaction by making customers feel like they are receiving good value for their purchases. Although your clients will never see what goes into your fulfillment operations, this is one of the critical ways to build loyalty.

To process orders as quickly as possible, you need to have an integrated e-commerce fulfillment platform. In addition to cost-effective shipping, customers want their orders as quickly as possible to make it worth it to buy wine online rather than from a physical store. Especially if you sell your products through Amazon, your website, in your tasting room and retail outlets, inventory needs to be effectively managed to enable speedy order processing so customers aren't left waiting around for their packages for weeks. 

Having the right fulfillment platform is crucial to maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction, according to Practical Ecommerce. All inventory should be housed in one database to avoid any lapses in fulfillment, and stock levels have to update whenever products are sold through any channel. Order data needs to download automatically, and shipment tracking numbers should be generated. It's essential that inventory updates happen almost immediately because otherwise you could end up selling out-of-stock wine online. Your fulfillment platform should work to make shipping more convenient.

How to use shipping to encourage online wine sales
Customer expectations are higher than ever before when it comes to e-commerce. Major retailers like Amazon are pioneering new ways to deliver packages more efficiently than ever, including the potential of shipment via drone. Online retailers that don't assess the level of service they deliver to customers could end up having problems with retention in the sea of ever-expanding options on the Internet. 

Shipping is a critical area to evaluate when determining if you need to make refinements to your strategy. Shipping options have become a competitive differentiator, and customers won't complete the transaction if they feel they aren't getting a good deal. Wine shipping can often be prohibitively expensive, especially if consumers are located on the other side of the country. Shoppers may end up purchasing elsewhere if they can't find adequate shipping rates. 

In a panel interview with several e-commerce experts on Ecommerce Bytes, the following suggestions were given for improving shipping operations:

  • Require a minimum order size for discounted shipping: Although competitive prices can boost customer satisfaction, your winery can actually take a loss if your shipping rates are too low. If customers feel they can get a good deal on these rates, they will be more likely to make larger orders, which can increase your online revenues. 
  • Don't neglect customer service: This aspect of your business should never be reactionary - you need to make sure that fulfillment operations are functioning at their highest level to avoid negative client perceptions. High-quality customer service can help your winery save money while increasing revenue. Happy clients are far more likely to return. Customer feedback about shipping should be taken very seriously. 

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