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Sheri Hebbeln
 
May 28, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce , Site Design and Management | Sheri Hebbeln

Start Thinking About the Winter Holidays Now

If you're thinking about increasing online wine sales this summer, the holidays may be the furthest thing from your mind. Thanksgiving is still months away. However, many retailers struggled to deliver packages on time during the 2013 holidays, negatively impacting consumer sentiment around what is supposed to be a joyous time of year. The holidays can be chaotic for online merchants, but fortunately there is still plenty of time left to prepare for this busier season. It's especially important to make any necessary website upgrades and assess ecommerce fulfillment strategies, according to Multichannel Merchant. 

The holidays are a great opportunity to maximize direct-to-consumer sales and sell more wine club memberships. Consider the following tips to ensure your winery has a successful holiday season:

  • Don't forget mobile: Although mobile commerce currently only accounts for a small portion of sales, this channel may be more significant during the holidays because people are comparison shopping. A quality mobile website in place can help convert a higher number of website visitors. 
  • Test your website now: If you receive a large number of customer inquiries about your online wine store during slower times of year, imagine the issues that could arise during the holidays when staff is already spread thin. One easy update is ensuring all customer service contact information is included in a visible location on your website, search engine optimization provider Spirecast stated. In fact, hard-to-find contact details can make your website seem less credible. Multichannel Merchant pointed out testing can be conducted more smoothly if you do it ahead of the sharp increase in site traffic.
  • Have a plan B: Even the best plans are subject to last-minute changes. Preparing responses and being flexible allows you to handle any issues that come up without impacting customer satisfaction, Multichannel Merchant said. 
  • Establish holiday deadlines and stick to them: One of the major reasons online retailers ran into so many problems last year was due to late deadlines for two- or next-day shipping. Much of the country experienced severe winter weather, and many businesses weren't able to deliver on time. Some shoppers were frustrated when gifts for friends or family members didn't arrive on time. While shipping promotions can sway last-minute shoppers, deadlines need to be realistic and clear, Spirecast suggested. It's important to use the right language, such as "deadline" or "cutoff" so customers understand.
  • Consider product catalog and inventory management now: Depending on how many customer touch points you offer, it may already be time to update product descriptions and assess how inventory will be managed during this busy time of year. Shoppers will be frustrated if they came to your website to purchase your best-selling wine only to find it's out of stock. However, if you update your product catalog in advance, you can identify opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, especially by bundling certain products. Wine inventory software can help you keep an eye on stock levels through all channels. 

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