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Jim Agger
 
May 15, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

What Wineries Need to do to Prepare for the 2014 Holidays

Do you think it's too early to start getting ready for the holiday season? Think again: 2014 will be another short holiday season with 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you didn't see the performance levels you wanted from your online wine store in 2013, it may be time to start considering your wine marketing strategy for the holidays now. 

Online retailers faced a number of challenges at the end of 2013, with many last-minute shoppers not getting their packages in time due to severe winter weather. According to Multichannel Merchant and Newgistics' "Executive Summary: Holiday 2014," you need to analyze trends from last year to be better prepared for consumer behavior. For example, some retailers introduced holiday promotions in October, which encouraged many people to start shopping early. 

Mobile shopping saw a spike during the 2013 holidays, which means winery websites that aren't mobile responsive may need an update. Smartphones and tablets allow for quicker price comparisons. In general, there was a significant shift toward online shopping last year. Cyber Monday sales have been growing more substantially more than Black Friday revenues. 

Think about ecommerce fulfillment now
While many people were quick to blame poor weather for the shipping delays, a major factor in the failures was an overwhelming volume of packages. Retailers made lofty promises to consumers about the speed of deliveries - even for orders placed on Dec. 23 - and carriers simply could not process and ship so many parcels. No one anticipated so many online purchases would be made at the last minute. 

Because of these issues in 2013, industry experts predict the major carriers will raise their prices for December deliveries. This could be an opportunity for wineries to offer promotions at the end of October and beginning of November instead. Throughout the year, shipping expenses have a strong influence on shoppers' decisions, but people who leave their gift purchases until the end of December are often left with no choice but to pay more to have items mailed on time. As omnichannel retailing becomes more popular with consumers, more people may want the option to pick up holiday purchases from a traditional store. 

The report suggests Amazon's speedy deliveries have influenced shopper behavior because the retail giant often is able to ship products within two days. However, this means retailers need to start assessing their capabilities now to avoid leaving customers hanging during the holidays.

Considerations for the 2014 holiday season
Inventory management concerns could impact your success during the holiday season. Practical Ecommerce suggested that even businesses with an automated inventory system should do a physical count at least once a year to prevent any significant shortages during this crucial time. Some retailers make the majority of their annual revenue during the last few months of the year, so it's important that everything is in place to maximize online wine sales. Make sure you have visibility into your inventory to avoid any problems down the road. 

How was your customer service during the 2013 holidays? With a sharp increase in sales volume, you need to be sure you have enough staff on hand to assist customers, particularly if they have any usability issues with your website. It may be beneficial to conduct a survey of your existing clients to determine what improvements they would like to see this year. You also may want to start deciding some of your holiday promotions and design wine marketing campaigns. Preparing in advance can help you be more ready and generate higher holiday revenue. 

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