This is the second installment of a series titled 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.
In Volume 2, we are pleased to introduce you to Ben Kraemer, Lead Client Trainer at WineDirect. Prior to working at WineDirect, Ben spent several years in healthcare doing process improvement and staff training. Following that, he transitioned to the wine industry and spent many years in various administrative roles. Like many winery administrators Ben wore “many hats”, but his main focuses were primarily on Club Management, Marketing, and Website Management. Ben combines his passion for process improvement and education with real world experience in winery and wine club management.
Before we delve into Ben's latest project, he shares recent trends he's seen with WineDirect clients and what excites him about the future of Winery DTC.
What client trends have you noticed in the past year that you think will continue in the future?
One of the things that I have seen is that the winery customers are more comfortable being self-sufficient online than we give them credit for, and they want flexibility. Due to the trial by fire that the industry has gone through in the past year, customers have had no choice but to interact with our winery partners in a digital way. Prior to the Pandemic, online was an almost unexplored method of interaction and it was seen in many ways as undesirable. However, what we have seen is that customers are more than capable to engage in an online environment.
This has a huge impact on the way that wine clubs operate and interact with their members. Winery customers want to be able to access and interact with their club selections, but they also want to have great customer experiences. That is why I tend to recommend the wineries that I work with to transition away from the highly manual and rigid club builds and go with open User Choice clubs and give their members the interactivity and flexibility that they want. That is a trend that I do not see changing ever.
What excites you about the future of winery DTC and why?
I am excited to see how our partners leverage the general adoption of technology and comfort of interaction of winery patrons. This past year has caused a forced leap forward in technological adoption, and with it developed massive opportunity.
I can’t see why wineries won’t expand on that, imagine virtual tours while you are in the tasting room. The customer scans the QR code on their menu and then gets taken on a virtual tour of the facility and at the end is offered to join the club to take the tour in real life. The continuation of virtual tastings is also very exciting, the idea that you prep and send out a tasting kit to your top tier members with a QR code that links to a pre-recorded virtual tasting of the upcoming shipment.
Tell us a little bit about the WineDirect Academy!
The WineDirect Training Academy is an online resource, free to our ecommerce clients. It is comprehensive training - not snippet-style videos containing high-level information, where you’re only getting just enough information to get the job done. With the WineDirect Academy, you’re truly going to be able to learn at your own pace, plus you can access these training modules whenever you’d like to.
As the Lead Trainer for WineDirect for the past 2 ½ years, I have had just about every question that you can imagine thrown at me. When it comes to what the features are, how do they function, and what are they good for? I try to answer all of those questions throughout each of the different chapters within each of the module coursework of the Academy. As an example, in the Promos course, I share not only how to create a promo, but also how to build a promo correctly, the best practices, and discuss some great ways of implementing promos within your system. These courses should encourage you to look to improve what you currently have based on best practices and on what I’ve experienced with wineries in the past.
It is an in-depth learning resource, more than just a YouTube of how-to’s, which I find to be very important for the utility of a product. If you don’t know how or why to use it, why would you? That is the concept behind building out this level of information in the Academy.
What inspired you to create WineDirect Academy?
I like consuming information. I want to learn. And I know that is a common desire amongst the industry, amongst new hires to different wineries to General Managers and Wine Club Managers. My goal with the Academy is to take away the impediment of learning the additional pieces of information of using this platform. A benefit of online learning is you can truly learn at your own pace and in your preferred learning style: the Academy has interactive videos as well as lecture style videos. I know that for myself, I learn very well by doing. Others learn very well by listening, and others by watching something being done. In the coursework, I try to create the opportunity to learn that satisfies all of the combinations of learning styles.
What aspect of the Academy are you most passionate about?
Prior to WineDirect, I worked in the wine industry. I know that, especially now, most employees are wearing many hats, so they need to be able to learn, to grow in their mission, but they need to be able to do it at their own pace and freely in a way that works for them.
What other modules do you have scoped out for the future?
The goal with the Academy is to never stop learning. That is the goal for myself as an individual too. My strategy is to output content on a monthly basis. Of course, there will potentially be smaller and larger gaps depending on what that content happens to be. Most recently, I’ve created a fairly large coursework that encompasses all things emails in WineDirect covering,
How to build templates
How to use templates
How you can utilize 3rd party systems
The goal is to continue to make it bigger, while maintaining The Essentials videos and Documentation. Alignment and regular updates so the customer is getting the most relevant information. That is of big importance to me and is something I want to make happen for our clients.
Join Ben and I for a chat about the Academy by watching the video below. We look forward to everyone experiencing the Academy!
Access WineDirect Academy
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