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Voices of WineDirect; Volume 1: Andrea Smalling

Andrea Smalling
Mar 25, 2021   |   Andrea Smalling Recommended for:   Wine Club, Marketing, Wine Shipping & Fulfillment, Ecommerce
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This is the first of a series we are calling Voices of WineDirect, where members of our team will discuss what excites them about WineDirect and the future of winery direct to consumer (DTC) channels.

We begin with our new VP of Marketing and Sales, Andrea Smalling, who joined us in January after 25 years on the winery side of the business with wineries including Constellation Brands, Foley Family Wines, Mark Anthony Wines in Canada and McBride Sisters Collections.

Wow, it’s been a year since the world changed forever due to COVID-19. And what a year for our industry. We learned some incredibly hard lessons and we also gained a great deal of new knowledge as we innovated to embrace new ways of engaging with consumers and selling wine.

I joined WineDirect in January after 25 years on the winery side of the business. I’d chosen to work with WineDirect as a client because I didn’t want my teams spending any more time than necessary on DTC logistics and favored WineDirect’s end-to-end solution. In 2020, I was at McBride Sisters Collections and while we were growing our DTC business (we’re talking from zero to 100 very quickly!), I got to know WineDirect even more deeply and saw the work the team was doing to help wineries thrive. I made a lot of requests (some might call them demands) and I was impressed at how quickly the team was able to deliver as well as the very exciting plans they’d outlined for the near future. I love the DTC business and it’s even more important and exciting now, so when the opportunity came to join the team, I knew it would be an exciting next step. One of the first things I asked for was a rundown of the things that were introduced over the past twelve months to help wineries grow their DTC business. The list was long, but here are some examples:

Club improvements to make club management more efficient. 

This was huge. As ecommerce exploded, wineries needed club management to be super smooth to give members an incredible experience, while ensuring employees were able to execute club management efficiently.

  • User Choice Club improvements, including a more visually appealing and intuitive club member experience, member savings displayed clearly up front, a “sold out” check box, ability to set a default discount across all wines in a shipment, and more.
  • A Member Importer Tool launched last spring amid winery closures to allow easy shipping to club members who would have normally picked up in tasting rooms.
  • Automated club decline and hold emails to streamline club runs and inform members in a timely manner.
  • Club Signup Source to give visibility into where club members originate.
  • Club Cancellation and On Hold Source to allow team members to understand what channels are being used when memberships are going on hold or cancelling.

Upgrades to make ecommerce efforts more effective. 

As an industry, we saw more sales through websites than ever before. Many of these sales were to consumers who hadn’t purchased wine online in the past, so it was important that their experience was good.

  • Shopping cart checkout improvements, making it easier and faster for customers to checkout on websites, as well as a streamlined login process, improved shipping promotion alerts and additional call to action buttons, all designed to significantly reduce the risk of cart abandonment.
  • A new Text Editor in the Products section to allow for quick and easy updates to product pages.
  • Added tipping functionality to ecommerce shopping carts in case people wanted to provide some extra support.
  • Contact Status in List Builder to make it easier to accurately segment email lists.
  • Improved email deliverability by adding DMARC domain authentication.

Training programs to help winery partners thrive. 

Many wineries had to hire new employees to help run growing DTC businesses. These employees needed to get up to speed, quickly.

  • Launched a weekly installment of free training videos leading into important holiday campaigns.
  • Launched the WineDirect Academy – a series of free courses designed to ensure that winery clients understand how best to use our tools to build their DTC business

Fulfillment Price Promotions to assist wineries as they worked through closures. 

This was a big deal for wineries to be able to provide promotional offers to consumers without breaking the bank.

Fulfillment products to ensure a positive delivery experience.

The growth of overall ecommerce business meant that wineries were shipping throughout the summer – and in many places in the U.S., temperatures got extremely hot.

But, what’s really exciting to me is that this is only the beginning! First up will be a brand new wine club interface to make club management simpler and more efficient for members and your staff. Our teams are also hard at work completely rebuilding our ecommerce platform, making our offering more flexible, with a new CMS that will support frequent design changes. We’ll have an API that is pre-integrated with email marketing, systems, accounting systems and will be ready to work with all sorts of plugins such as loyalty and referral programs that will allow our winery partners to customize client experiences – the types of programs I was working on when I was on the winery side of the business.

It’s been a crazy year, but here at WineDirect, the best is yet to come! Stay tuned….

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