[Updated May 31, 2019]
Some people might say that summer is the “slow time” in our industry. It’s true that spring tends to be busy for us and for the DTC wine clubs we serve, and then things settle down during the summer months, picking up again as the holidays draw near. But just because things move more slowly in summer, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a critically important period for wine clubs.
Underneath the surface, there is a lot of activity happening here at Copper Peak. We recommend to our clients, too, that they use this period to take stock, strategize, and prepare for the coming busy season in fall.
Specifically, here are the 9 things we suggest our clients should be doing during this time:
#1: Make Your Employees Take Some Personal “Down Time”
When things are busy, burnout creeps in. When things slow down, it’s the perfect time for some R&R. We have our team members take some mandatory vacation time, and we’ve found that it works: Our employees come back refreshed and better able to serve our clients. This can work for wineries too. Give yourself and your team a much needed break!
#2: Use This Time for Training
Nobody wants to stop for training when things are busy. The slow season really is the best time for you and your employees to sharpen their skills—especially if you’ve been putting off training for a while. Be sure to cover all areas, including operations, sales, HR, and compliance, etc.
#3: Clean Out Your Inventory
Do you have inventory that just isn’t moving? Maybe it’s time to clear it out, do a flash sale or special promotion, and continue on. Non-moving inventory (whether wine or non-wine merchandise) can take up valuable warehouse and tasting room storage space, not to mention adding to your insurance bill. Slower seasons are a great time to clean house. (The same goes for non-inventory items, such as old, obsolete equipment and materials.)
#4: Look at Your Metrics
We all know you should be looking at your wine club metrics regularly. You should also look at your events, eCommerce, phone sales and tasting room channels as well. While this might be put on the back burner during the busy season, you should definitely take a look now so you can plan for the next busy season.
- Which SKUs are moving fastest—overall and in your club?
- What is your average length of membership?
- What is your churn rate? When does churn usually occur (for example, at 6 months, 12 months, etc.)?
- What are the purchasing demographics of your best wine club customers? (What are their ages and incomes? Where do they live and work? What do they like?)
- What is the average lifetime value of your wine club customers?
- What is your average purchase price in your tasting room, and are you gaining valuable information? Are you converting them to your club? At what rate?
- What is their recency, their frequency, and how much are the spending? (Thanks Tammy Boatright at Vingdirect!)
Uncover data on all of your initiatives from last year to this year and use that data as a benchmark, or for planning the growth of your club and other channels.
#5: Plan Your Marketing
Once you have a feel for what your metrics are telling you, you can better plan your marketing. First, you can revisit some of the basics, including figuring out the channels through which to reach your best customers, what content to create and show them, and what price points will be the most lucrative for you (among other things).
Next, you might want to catch up on some of the trends that might be influencing your markets and the channels through which you reach them. (That includes many of the trends we identified in our eBook, DTC Wine Shipping for 2019 and Beyond.) There may well be some markets that you are currently not tapping, but that could provide increased revenue streams in the later half of 2019. A few good examples:
- Consider upping your investment in marketing wine to Generation X
- See what it would take to market your products to a more affluent demographic
- Consider offering lower price point wines for new, entry level consumers
#6: Take Another Look at Your Customer Journey
How are customers finding your brand? Do they visit your tasting room first and then sign up for your wine club? If so, are they wanting to sign up in the tasting room itself? Or do they go online once they get home?
Every subscription is a journey. Usually, this starts with an event at your winery, like a concert, wedding, or private tasting. But it could start online too. Most DTC wine clubs get into trouble when they can’t move customers from these first steps to an actual club conversion. See what you can do to streamline the process and get more loyal customers to convert!
Don’t neglect the other end of the journey either—that is, the final mile of delivery. A good delivery experience can make for a loyal repeat customer…likewise, an inconvenient delivery experience can sour the customer relationship. Shipping wine is filled with complications, and so it helps to get a grip on the various ways in which you can improve the delivery experience.
#7: Do Something Extra-Special for Your Loyal Club Members
Besides converting new members, the point at which most clubs experience trouble is with retaining their potentially most lucrative customers. The trick, then, is to make those customers feel extra-special—and not just around the holidays or the anniversary of their club sign-up date.
One good way to do this is to send then a small non-wine gift to reward their club loyalty. Non-wine merchandise is growing as a DTC tactic for staying top-of-mind and enhancing the wine club experience.
#8: Think About Corporate Gifts
Wine can make a great corporate gift. Many companies want to say “thank you” to their clients and vendors, or simply recognize employees for a job well done. Though they do this year-round, the pace quickens as the holidays approach.
It should come as no surprise that corporate gifting is a big driver for DTC wine sales for some wineries. You should plan on making this a channel for your sales, too. It’s also a good way to showcase your new or up-and-coming wines—or include a catalog or promo with the gift.
#9: Look Into New Packaging Alternatives
When holiday gift season does come around, you will want it to be something special for everyone. An easy way to enhance the unpacking experience is to use wine gift packaging. This tells the recipient they are getting something special—important for both “one-off” gifts and for orders to your best wine club customers.
Designing and ordering speciality wine packaging can take some time. You can’t just start the process in late October and hope you’ll get a good-looking product at a reasonable price. So start brainstorming some ideas now, when things are slow.. Better yet, ask your fulfillment company if they have recommendations in this area. (We would be happy to share some ideas—just contact us.)
Want more information on how to do these things? Or have some suggestions that don’t appear here? We’d love to hear from you, and have made it easy to reach us by using this Contact Us link.
The Team at Copper Peak