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Bridge the online and tasting room experiences

Sep 23, 2015   |   Joanne Grantz Recommended for:   Marketing
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Tasting rooms are a tool to drive sales and create brand familiarity. Far too often, tasting rooms are perceived as one-time destinations. Once the experience is over and the wines have been drunk, wineries struggle to maintain relationships with those customers; especially if they are from out of town.

Wineries can leverage tasting room experiences to create long-time customers of their online wine store. Here are three strategies worth considering:

1. Promote your wine club
Wine clubs are an excellent source of customer loyalty that are directly influenced by the tasting room. According to the 2015 "Tasting Room Survey Report" conducted by Silicon Valley Bank and Wine Business Monthly, 33 percent of wineries offer seated tastings of some sort. More importantly, seated tastings are associated with higher average purchases. Seated customers are also more likely to join the wine club than if they are standing at the tasting bar.

With this insight in mind, wineries should take the the opportunity to promote their wine clubs during seated tastings. Consider providing a handout or offering samples of wines that will be shipped in coming months to encourage membership.

2. Put POS data to use
Cloud-based POS systems provide valuable data about visitors to your tasting room, including email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers. Don't let this data go to waste. Instead, pair contact information with information about past purchases and tasting room experiences to send targeted marketing materials and offers to guests. Make sure the content you distribute has an effective call to action.

For example, you could send an email to someone marketing a wine similar to one they purchased in the tasting room, directing them to the product page on your online wine store. Accompanied by an exclusive offer or deal, this personalized marketing strategy can be very effective.

3. Offer exclusive deals 
Another way to increase online wine sales is to connect tasting room visitors to exclusive online deals. Offering visitors exclusive deals and promotion codes redeemable on your online wine store will not only drive traffic; customers will perceive this as a valuable reward for visiting your tasting room.

Reduced shipping deals for tasting room visitors is an excellent approach. This is especially helpful since expensive shipping seems to be a major barrier to consumers purchasing wine online.  In fact, the 2015 UPS Online Shopping Study conducted with comScore showed free shipping remains the most important option during checkout for 77 percent of online shoppers. Beyond free shipping, wineries could offer discounts to visitors for their first online purchase, or reduced cost to purchase a wine club membership. 

4. Use beacons
Beacons are low-cost, Bluetooth-enabled devices that send information, exclusive offers and social media updates to shoppers' devices when they are in or near a business. Today, wineries are using beacon technology to enhance the tasting room experience and connect to visitors' mobile devices. For example, iBeacons Blog wrote that Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico in Italy uses beacon technology as well as a branded app to share winery information and events. Additionally, application users that visit the wineries will receive insights into products they are tasting and special offers.

5. Engage on social media
Whether during customer checkout or while seated in the tasting room, wineries should seize the opportunity to turn in-person interactions into online engagements. Consider using signage, information on handouts, QR codes or verbal cues to encourage guests to engage with your winery's social media properties.

With the right mix of personalization, technology and offered value, wineries can turn tasting room experiences into long-term online relationships.

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