Karin Ballestrazze
April 24, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce | Karin Ballestrazze

What's in store for ecommerce?

Online wine sales may be one of the key ways for you to grow direct-to-consumer revenues in the next few years. Ecommerce is growing rapidly, and this form of retail has expanded into many product categories that weren't previously sold online. In fact, recent research from eMarketer predicted U.S. ecommerce sales revenue will reach $304.1 billion by the end of 2014 and keep expanding until it hits $491.5 billion by 2018, according to PYMNTS.com.

While some experts have overlooked the potential impact of the growth of ecommerce on brick-and-mortar stores, this rapid expansion will likely lead to decrease in foot traffic for many retailers. Ecommerce growth is far outpacing that of traditional retailers. In particular, stores saw less traffic during the 2013 holidays. Consumers are taking to websites to buy holiday gifts, and the bad weather in many parts of the country led record numbers to purchase online instead. Some stores may have experienced as much as 50 percent less foot traffic in 2013 compared to three years prior, PYMNTS.com said.

Because of this massive shift to the Internet, wineries need to prepare to sell wine online, rather than focusing solely on the in-store experience. However, some winery websites remain stagnant once they go live. What should you do to get ready for an increasingly online retail world?

Websites have been slowly evolving, not keeping pace with shopper demands
Despite the rapid move to online shopping, many retailers are staggering behind. Ecommerce websites often provide a flat, unimaginative experience for shoppers, USA Today reported. Consumer technology is advancing at a quick pace. For example, Google Glass just became publicly available. It may not take long for customers to get bored with the same, outdated Web experience when it comes to ecommerce. 

One of the reasons ecommerce has stayed largely unchanged since it started is because it was governed by the rules of search engine optimization, the article suggested. Retailers wanted potential clients to find their websites online, so they loaded content with SEO keywords to boost their chances of turning up in search results. However, emphasizing SEO results over customer experience can deliver mixed results and lead to websites that lack usability. This isn't a good strategy for a couple reasons. First, consumers are less tolerant of a poor website experience. They want to find what they're looking for and order wine online without much hassle. The second reason is because Google and other search engines have changed how they rank websites. Google's latest algorithm, Hummingbird, places more focus on quality content and grades website based on how easy they make it for individuals to find what they need. 

Trends wineries should pay attention to in the next few years
With the growth of ecommerce projected to continue for the next several years, you may need to make some adjustments to your online wine store to gain new DTC revenue. Mobile commerce is a trend that's quickly catching on. As more people purchase smartphones and tablets, websites will have to adapt to mobility. A higher number of transactions will occur through mobile devices, and you need to ensure your website is convenient for customers - no matter which channel they use.

As commerce becomes increasingly digital, adding a human element of personalization will be more significant, according to USA Today. Customers will want to be receive the same level of service through each touch point. Delivering more unique shopping experiences can help you extend the lifetime value of your customer relationships. 


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