In the wine industry, 2020 will likely be remembered as the year wineries had to step up their eCommerce (and general DTC) game. And who are they looking to as a shining example of success? No doubt that Amazon is the powerhouse when it comes to eCommerce, and while buying a bottle of wine and having it shipped direct-to-consumer is importantly different from shipping other goods (like books or sneakers), there are still some solid lessons the wine industry can learn from the online giant.
So what does Amazon do differently that wineries can learn from?
- Streamline the purchase process. With every click and form field, there is a chance a consumer will abandon cart and navigate away from the site before the transaction is completed. Streamline your online store so purchasing is as simple as possible, with easy-to-navigate menus and no-fuss checkout.
- Make it even more convenient. As we discovered in our chat with Shep Hyken, convenience is everything when it comes to shopping online. Something like Amazon’s 1-Click shopping, which allows customers to pre-enter their billing and shipping information so they can buy later with a single mouse click, is a game-changer. 1-Click shopping was not only extremely successful for Amazon but also an innovation estimated to be worth billions.
- Keep account creation and sign-in simple. 1-Click shopping is a great way to make things easier for repeat customers, but there are other things you can do, too. For example, creating an account should be super simple, and customers should be able to sign in automatically.
- Keep their purchase history—and let them use it. Just as important as an easy sign-in is the ability to use that online account. Give account holders easy access to their purchase history, for example, so they can see what they ordered previously. (“What was that great wine we ordered last year and had around Thanksgiving?”) Then make things even easier by allowing them to reorder from that history at the click of a button.
- Give them the info they need. Amazon does this mainly through user reviews. Those don’t work well for wine, given ongoing vintage changes and differences in personal palates. But there’s still a lot you can do: Provide links to positive press and online posts about your wine, for example. Or provide things like tasting notes, flavor profiles, pairing information, and so on. All these things help consumers make an informed purchase decision.
- Make recommendations. One of Amazon’s most important features is its recommendation engine, which shows consumers other things people have liked or purchased in addition to the item in question. This can work especially well for groups of wine that share flavor profiles, or even for non-wine merchandise.
- Offer a shipping deal. There are many ways to structure shipping deals; just be careful about how you do so. For example, for some time it was illegal for California wineries to offer free shipping on alcohol purchases. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, those restrictions were lifted to offer relief to businesses…but it’s not clear how permanent the lift will be, or whether or how new restrictions will be applied in the future.
- Set clear shipping expectations. Most people think Amazon became famous for fast shipping. We contend it became famous for setting expectations and sticking to them. Not all products on Amazon ship in two days (though many do). But Amazon does give you a precise timeframe for delivery. So, while you probably can’t ship a heavy case of wine quickly (especially given weather delays, adult signatures, etc.), you can let customers know when they can reasonably expect their shipments.
- Keep customers in the loop on delivery. Another thing Amazon does well is keeping its customers updated about the progress of their shipments—right down to providing a photo and text when the delivery happens. Customers are also notified if there is a delay or problem for any reason. This lets customers feel in control, and so they are liable to complain less, knowing what is going on. (This is a good reason, by the way, to use a good 3PL partner to handle those shipping details.)
- Don’t expect to know everything. If you are a winery, your passion is making good wine and sharing it with the world. That’s what you do—not website design, or eCommerce marketing, or shipping and logistics. It’s OK, then, to form a general plan of attack and bring in strategic partners to help you improve on and execute those plans. Indeed, it’s a good idea to bring in multiple vendors, each of which is a specialist in its own niche area.
Are you looking to up your eCommerce and/or DTC game? We’d love to talk to you about the fulfillment and shipping aspects. Here’s how to get in touch.