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February 11, 2014 | WineDirect Admin

Online Wine Sales Have the Chance to Surge

After a large California harvest in 2013, the results are in: 4.23 million tons of grapes were crushed, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With large stocks, wineries may be able to pursue new direct-to-consumer opportunities, especially from online wine sales

Both red and white wine grape production increased by 5 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Of all varietals, chardonnay accounted for 12 percent of the harvest. Brian Clements, vice president and partner at Turrentine Brokerage, said the large harvests of the last two years came at an extremely beneficial time because bulk wine inventory was at a low level. He said there are approximately 17 million gallons of bulk wine in the market now, and this number could expand further to 22 million. 

Despite the ongoing drought in California, 2014 is expected to be positive for wine production, Western Farm Press reported. Although water use and conservation will continue to be a concern for winemakers, supplies are high enough to meet the current demands. This balance is critical to maintaining profitability in the industry. 

In addition to the substantial 2012 and 2013 harvests, wine prices are expected to remain stable. This may be good news if you sell wine online. 

Global online alcohol sales are on the rise
Buoyed by the holiday season, many wineries experienced high levels of online sales because of the convenience factor, and this is expected to increased in 2014, according to The Grocer. Especially for consumers with a well-developed palate for wine, the Internet makes it easier to find exactly what they want without having to travel to several stores. Similar to how e-commerce developed in other industries, shoppers who buy wine online have come to regard this as the new normal. 

If you aren't already selling products on your winery's website, you could be missing out on the chance to grow revenues. 

How to increase online wine sales
The biggest area for DTC growth in the coming years is most likely online, so you can't afford to ignore the Internet. Website design has a major impact on success - almost as much as e-commerce solutions. Practical Ecommerce offered this list of the basics that can get you off to a good start with your online wine store

  • Give clear calls to actions: Unless you direct website visitors to the next step, they may not figure it out on their own. Guiding shoppers in the right direction may be as simple as changing how the call-to-action buttons look, especially when it comes to adding items to the shopping cart or checking out. While it may seem insignificant, this can positively influence conversion rates.
  • Place return policies and guarantees in a visible location: The Internet has given customers more choices than ever before, and they want to be sure they're selecting a trustworthy provider. It's hard to determine whether you're going to like something before you order it, which means shoppers also want to know they can return items if they need to. You may want to consider clearly highlighting your return policy on the checkout pages so customers know what to expect if they want to send anything back. With the recent high-profile data breach that impacted an estimated 110 million of Target's customers, including a security badge could help boost confidence. It's also not a bad idea to promote speedy shipping in a visible location.
  • Be transparent about wine shipping and taxes: This is especially important for wineries because you can't offer "free shipping". Taxes may also apply, and this should never be concealed from consumers because it can break their trust. Be upfront about all applicable fees. 

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