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June 28, 2012 | eCommerce | WineDirect Admin

Wine Ecommerce –3 Reality Checks: It is NOT a field of dreams people!

Before you build your shopping cart, you need to create your customer acquisition strategy. The best web shopping carts in the world won’t generate sales unless customers are compelled to use them.

It never ceases to amaze me that this subject continues to be a huge blind spot for the wine industry. Now that there is tangible evidence that DIRECT WINE SALES ARE GROWING , the allure as well as the reality of selling directly to consumers through tasting rooms and websites is even more compelling, while selling wine through distributors is getting harder and more expensive each year.

Wine purchases in your tasting room or via your website “will (NOT) come if you build it”, the premise of the fanciful movie ‘Field of Dreams’ . Business success depends upon a strategy and a plan with measurable tasks and timelines built around authentic and compelling selling propositions.  What does this mean?  A successful DTC sales plan defines your sales goals and your customer acquisition strategies. Time for the Reality Check:  Who are and where do you find your customers?  How many people are in your database?  Is your database being kept up to date?  How are you building it with goals for each day, week, month and year?   What is your existing or planned conversion rate online and in your tasting room?

Reality Check 1:  Ecommerce sales conversion rates around 1% and 2% are fairly common.

For every 1,000 visitors to your website, this equates to only 10 to 20 sales! Of course a targeted email campaign  to pre-qualified people that know and love your wine should be a much higher rate, but you hopefully get the point.  Here is an excellent blog on conversionxl.com on best practices for improving ecommerce sales and conversion rates.  Vin65 is a leading ecommerce platform for the wine industry that is also improving rates for winery sites via their mobile, ipad and Facebook apps.

Reality Check 2: Most wineries do not have a ‘customer acquisition plan’.

Think of it this way, if you produce 1,000 cases and plan to sell 500 to restaurants, you need 1,000 restaurants on your hit list assuming an aggressive 50% sales success rate.  How many consumers do you need walking through your doors or being driven to your website to sell 500 cases (6,000 bottles)?  A reasonable number would be 5,000 consumers at launch to market to, but where and how do you get them?  A good white paper about targeting luxury consumers is found here on iprospect.com

Reality Check 3: You should always be engaging with prospective and existing customers.

Once you are launched and getting people in your doors and visiting online, you should continue to recruit new, engage with and retain existing customers to maintain sales momentum.  Your sales and frequency will improve with a compelling story and sales strategy that is mapped out over the year around release schedules and events.  Strategic partners such as publications, associations, the media and other portals to consumers are key to meeting new and staying in touch with existing customers.  Bloggers can be powerful sources of referral, well beyond this great list of wine bloggers mentioned by VinTank.

Wishing you ever increasing acquisitions and conversions! 

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