Jim Agger
 
February 7, 2014 | Jim Agger

Wineries Need a Seamless Customer Experience

The Internet has completely revolutionized retail. However, if you sell wine online, you can't hide behind the Web. Customers have higher expectations than ever before, and they increasingly are expressing a preference for an online experience that mirrors physical stores. In other words, you need to have seamless integration between all your customer channels. In fact, Accenture recently surveyed 750 adult consumers and 40 percent believe the in-store experience is more important than online interactions. Additionally, 21 percent said they plan to make more purchases from brick-and-mortar retailers, but only if the shopping experience is reflective of what they could find online. This highlights the importance of assessing your online wine store.

Increasing direct-to-consumer sales is beneficial for wineries, whether they do so online or through their tasting rooms. You need to give your customers the option to easily step from your winery to your website. Accenture found the number of people who reserve products online and pick them up from a store is increasing. More consumers are also buying products in-store and having items shipped to their homes, which may be especially true for winery visitors. Customers expressed a definite preference for being able to check real-time product availability online.

Online shoppers want free or inexpensive shipping. This may be even more important than speedy deliveries. You need to ensure you are offering excellent wine shipping options to stay competitive, and subscription-based services could prove to be beneficial.

"Services from the online pure-play retailers that offer faster delivery in return for an annual subscriptions are having a profound impact on shoppers' expectations," said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture's retail branch. 

Ways to create a more seamless experience
The customer has clearly spoken: a seamless shopping experience or no deal. Shoppers want to be able to get in touch with you whenever they need to, whether it's in person, over the phone or through social media. While the majority of integration concerns may be related to your website or e-commerce solutions, there are a few wine marketing tactics you can use to provide a seamless experience for your customers:

  • Social media check-ins at physical locations: Popular social networks like Facebook, Foursquare and even Instagram give users the ability to broadcast their locations. You can encourage winery visitors to check in or share photos because this generates an online buzz that can help you gain new customers, Business 2 Community stated. However, to maximize the effectiveness of this word-of-mouth promotion, you may need to offer individuals a small discount on a bottle of wine or their tasting. 
  • Utilize custom URLs to track offline marketing effectiveness: One of the clear ways that Internet advertising wins over offline methods is because it's much easier to track return on investment. However, you can consider including a custom URL in your offline marketing efforts to track how many people are visiting your landing pages. Plus, including Web cues on mailers or other ads is a good way to integrate. 
  • Offer mobile checkout: People are becoming increasingly more comfortable with mobile point-of-sale solutions, and this can be highly effective in your tasting room to make transactions more convenient. According to an infographic from Jumio Consumer Mobile Insights, a simple interface that doesn't redirect to a payment page can improve the seamless experience. The system should be designed to ask for relevant pieces of information at the appropriate time, and it should always emphasize security. Mobile POS can allow your employees to create a more natural customer experience.

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