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4 Takeaways from the 2019 Wine Industry Technology Symposium

Carly Imhof
Oct 16, 2019   |   Carly Imhof Recommended for:   Wine Club, Marketing, Ecommerce, DTC Compliance, Industry News
Wits 2019 Winedirect Team Wits 2019 Winedirect Team

This year’s Wine Industry Technology Symposium at Napa’s CIA at Copia was action-packed, featuring a great keynote speech from Apple Inc.’s Elijah Meeks plus panel sessions that prompted insightful discussion around DTC topics. WineDirect was in full effect, with team members from client success, product, sales and marketing in attendance. Based on our takeaways from panel sessions and one-on-one conversations throughout the day, here are a few things you can do now to grow your DTC business.

1. Make online sales a top priority

A number of the day’s discussion panels touched on (or revolved around) how wineries can step up their game when it comes to selling wine to consumers online. From the "Ecommerce for the Modern Winery" panel to a session about recent court decisions governing DTC shipping and the resulting impact on winery ecommerce, it was clear that brands across the board are considering new and compelling ways to leverage this under-utilized sales channel.

The consensus was that simply having an online store doesn’t cut it⁠—you have to offer customers an enjoyable shopping experience. User-friendly websites with clear and concise information are expected in today’s online shopping world, and as consumers of a luxury product, wine buyers expect nothing less.

Panelists emphasized that customers should be able to navigate your website intuitively, and finding the right wines shouldn’t have to feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can use product categories and tags to your advantage, making it easy for shoppers to find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible⁠—reducing the likelihood of cart abandonment. And if someone does leave your site without checking out, make sure to put abandoned cart emails into place, which you can set up with WineDirect.

As Treasury Wine Estates' Ingrid Cheng emphasized, “your website is your digital tasting room.” Think about ways to stand out in a virtual space. For example, Gloria Ferrer has had success with their holiday gift pack video series. Consider how your winery might get creative with video content, whether you have the budget to hire a production company or you’re shooting on an iPhone. You can also create a sense of urgency in your email campaigns by emphasizing the scarcity of rare wines, or offering a specific gift pack as an online exclusive, a tactic that big name retail brands like Sephora, Target and Anthropologie use regularly.

2. Harness the power of quality CRM software

A CRM system that seamlessly integrates with your POS is critical to organizing and understanding your customer data. Having this information at your fingertips allows you to leverage insights from in-person tasting experiences to understand what people are looking for in the digital space. As Evan Pontoriero of Fogline Vineyards commented during the panel on the "Next Generation of POS and CRM Systems," “There’s so much competition, you need to take care of and know your clients so they’ll tell their friends.”

So how do you get to know them? Even before a guest walks through the door, you can gather information that will help you sell to that person. For example, William Chris Vineyards collects data from guests as they book their reservation through Tock. Next, the winery receptionist calls each party not only to confirm the appointment but to collect more specifics about the group. Finally, the brand ambassador that hosts a group is expected to make detailed notes about the guests’ interests following the visit. All this information is centralized in a CRM system, allowing a true 360 degree view of each customer.

For Janie Brooks Hueck of Brooks Winery, having WineDirect's CRM component is critical. Her tasting experiences include 3 flights per day with 6 different wines, yielding about 10 touchpoints per group. Keeping track of who tried and enjoyed each wine could get onerous in this scenario, but with the right CRM in place, it becomes an opportunity to market to those customers in the future.

3. Use customer data to inform your ecommerce strategy

Once you have customer data to rely on, consider your online marketing and advertising strategy as part of a larger sales and marketing engine. In other words, ecommerce shouldn’t stand alone. You can maximize sales and give customers more of what they want by building your campaigns around past purchase history and online shopping behavior.

During the panel titled "From Effective Data to the Right Workflows and Automation," Trevor Terrill of JaM Cellars aptly noted, “Remember that a data point represents a real person with needs and wants.” Trevor segments his email sends based on buyer personas. By narrowing down active buyers, lifestyle fans, and other types of customers, he can customize each subject line, offer, and piece of content to suit the buyer persona segment receiving each email. This has measurably increased open rates and click rates. Trevor even takes the process a step further with online advertising. He uploads his email list to Facebook and retargets buyers with custom creative to reinforce content they've already been served via email, bringing the customer experience with JaM full circle across multiple channels.

Chateau Montelena Winery's Chris Grossman described how automated email marketing helps him nurture different buyers’ experiences. He uses automated workflows to nurture new mailing list and club members, and has even set up a win-back workflow tailored to people who haven’t opened an email in a year or more. Customized workflows put you in control of each touchpoint a customer has with your brand, allowing you to guide them based on their behavior and interests from the tasting room to browsing your site. Automation gives you the tools to reach buyers at crucial points in their customer journey⁠—with the ultimate goal of winning the sale.

4. Remember to adhere to website accessibility standards

As you continue to grow your ecommerce program with the tips outlined above, it’s also important to keep website accessibility top of mind. Ensuring that your website is up to par with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) means that more users can effectively navigate your website. Plus, Google will rank you higher in web searches.

In fact, WineDirect recently completed a third-party website accessibility audit certifying that our ecommerce platform meets internationally-recognized standards. This audit is an example of our ongoing commitment to your winery's security and compliance, from accessibility to data privacy and beyond. You can learn more here about how your winery can take steps to bolster your own website’s compliance.

Whether your team is focused on improving customer data collection or you're starting to explore automated client communications or online advertising, we hope you’ve found our takeaways from the 2019 Wine Industry Technology Symposium helpful!

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