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Sheri Hebbeln
 
March 14, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce , Wine Industry Trends | Sheri Hebbeln

Why You Should Have an Online Wine Store

If you've been on the fence about implementing a multichannel approach at your winery, you should consider some of the advantages of online wine sales. Although businesses used to treat ecommerce as a separate entity from traditional brick-and-mortar retailing, these two entities are converging, according to Practical Ecommerce. Small wineries in particular may be reluctant to direct more focus to an online wine store, but it can help them reach a wider market. Here are some reasons why you should make the move into multichannel retailing if you haven't already:

1. Your target audience is already on the Web
You may not think it's important to have a strong online presence if most of your revenue comes from instead of your winery, but the reality is many consumers research products online before buying, even if they plan to purchase it from a brick-and-mortar store. You could be missing the opportunity to convert them by not enabling ecommerce on your website. Many wineries may see more sales and wine club memberships around the holidays. Practical Ecommerce cited a Google Think study that found customers are especially in favor of Internet shopping during the holidays because of the convenience. Without an online presence, you could be missing out on one of the most lucrative times of year.

2. Customers want a consistent experience
Wineries may steer away from online retailing because they believe they don't have the same capabilities as large-scale stores. Instead of taking on giants like Amazon and eBay, it's more important for you to focus on delivering a consistent experience, Multichannel Merchant stated. Whether shoppers choose to contact you in person, online or over the phone, they expect to receive the same quality of service. In fact, the multichannel approach works both ways. In the past, retailers focused on driving Internet traffic to their physical stores, but now you can encourage winery visitors to shop from your website. Integrating different customer touchpoints can increase the sense of consistency.

3. Some items translate well to the online arena
While it may seem counterintuitive because wine is something you need to see and taste, regional products often see high online sales, Practical Ecommerce said. Items that are bought in bulk and specialty products can be easier to find on the Internet than in local stores depending on where consumers are located. This may prove to be true for wine. Experienced wine collectors may turn to the Internet to acquire seasonal varieties that aren't common in local retailers. 

4. Ecommerce is inherently social
While some critics of ecommerce think a fundamental element of the shopping experience is lost online, an Internet store can boost the number of people you can reach. People are more likely to share their feelings about recent purchases on social media, which can amplify word-of-mouth efforts. Even having an online catalog can make your brand more social, according to Practical Ecommerce.

5. Improved customer service
In addition, it may seem like a human element is lost in customer service on the Internet, but an online wine store can enhance the experience for shoppers. For example, one of the benefits of ecommerce is that people can shop when it's convenient for them. However, if consumers are trying to make an online purchase after normal business hours and they run into difficulty, they may not be able to find the information they need. Because online shopping enables more self-service, you can include a frequently asked questions section on your site to eliminate some common confusions. 

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