Sheri Hebbeln
February 10, 2014 | Sheri Hebbeln

Start Preparing a Wine Marketing Strategy for the Holidays Now

Although you probably feel like the holidays just ended and you only recently finished processing returns, it's a good idea to consider your plans for this year to maximize the potential online wine sales. If you have ideas for holiday wine marketing now, it's easier to prepare in advance and make adjustments as the time gets closer. In fact, it may be worthwhile to take a look at the most recent holiday season to see how you can improve your operations throughout 2014 to take advantage of the lucrative end of the year. 


The holiday season in 2013 was somewhat unusual because of an early Hanukkah and late Thanksgiving, which reduced the shopping time between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. It will be relatively similar this year - the shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas will only be two days longer in 2014. In addition, retailers and e-commerce vendors around the country had the extra challenge of being slammed with inclement winter weather, according to Business 2 Community. This significantly impacted e-commerce fulfillment during the holiday season with major third-party logistics providers suffering from service outages because of snowstorms on the East Coast. 


While you can't predict the weather, there are several things you can do to prepare for high holiday numbers:


1. Estimate demand
If you don't have a rough idea of the online wine sales you expect, it could be tough to get through the holidays, Internet Retailer stated. It's important to predict demand to avoid overextending your inventory and fulfillment capabilities. This can cause late deliveries, and any delay in wine shipping decreases the chances that customers will buy from you again. Analyze historical holiday data to figure out how long it takes to process and ship orders. 


2. Shorten your shipping time
When it comes to the crucial holiday season, you may want to consider having bi-coastal shipping capabilities.  This is important because the shippers' service and timing can reflect on your winery, even though these two aspects are tangentially connected, Internet Retailer said. Even if you fulfill orders on time, you may find your winery subject to customers' fury when packages don't arrive on time. A simple step you can take is notifying shoppers in the event of a delay rather than waiting until after a service disruption to apologize. This can also decrease the number of inbound calls your employees need to field when packages are late. In the event of extreme weather in other parts of the country, you may want to collaborate with your fulfillment partners to create a contingency plan.


3. Highlight your logistics capabilities in wine marketing efforts
If you can quickly ship orders to any part of the country, you may want to note this in your email marketing campaigns in the time leading up to the holidays. If people are searching for gift ideas, this could be a subtle push in the right direction. In addition, you should make shipping wine as transparent as possible. Inventory should update in real time so consumers aren't adding out-of-stock items to their carts. Give them estimates of when products will be delivered and email them if the status changes, Business 2 Community stated. E-commerce can feel like a gamble for some shoppers, and this can make them feel more confident in your winery.


4. Assess customer service capabilities
In an ideal world, shoppers will place their orders, receive their deliveries in a few days and feel very satisfied with the entire experience. However, issues will sometimes arise. Customers may have delivery issues or want to exchange something. Did your team provide adequate support in 2013? Make sure you're extending top-quality service to holiday shoppers for the best results. 


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