The next frontier of direct wine sales is online (and here's how to dominate it!)

The next frontier of direct to consumer wine sales is going to be online. Everybody is doing it, but nobody is doing it well enough to step up and take advantage of the near limitless potential online sales have. We know that online sales are going to be crucial in the not so distant future, especially given business, economic, and cultural shifts in the industry. But for some reason the industry is still shy and in the dark compared to other industries. 

The advantages of online sales

The benefits of selling online have now long been understood. It gives customers easier access and convenience to your offering. They can buy whenever they want, and now thanks to mobile, whenever they want. 

We have also seen the growing ability of e-commerce and online sales platforms to make retailers more discoverable. SEO, social media, and mobile have given customers the world at their fingertips. Knowing how to use these tools to reach them has given even the smallest of businesses access to customers they never knew existed. 

These two factors allow wineries greater access to an audience that exists beyond the vicinity of the winery. In fact if done right, the customer could have a rich, fulfilling, and personal experience without ever having to visit the winery. They could be connected to you more than ever, and feel closer to you, all with little effort on the part of the winery. In this world the winery's physical location and tasting room become another facet of a much larger customer experience strategy, where it serves as a tool to engage with people and delight them rather than just sell to them. 

So we know that online wine sales can be beneficial, but how does a winery break through and really dominate the online wine market?

This is how you dominate online wine sales

Use every tool that you have to create a relationship with the wine drinker.

Think about a customer visiting your winery, you want them to enjoy every moment that they have there right? You treat them well, you smile, you bend over backwards if possible so that they have a good time and their wallets reflect it by opening up. They buy some bottles, maybe have some shipped to their home in New York, and you send a thank you note. Why? Because you want them to come back and buy more. You do that by building a relationship with them, learning as much as you can about them, what they like, when their birthday is, whatever they may give you. Use your digital tools to build on the relationships you have, or forge new ones. Email is a great way to say thank you, or keep in touch with people. Social is a great tool for engaging

One fantastic example of how you can use digital to make people feel special is Idlewild Wines. The person in charge of their subscription list sent a personal email to us, thanking us for signing up. Just for signing up! You know what we are more likely to do because someone said thank you for showing interest? We are going to buy all their wine!

Think of digital as a way of directing people to what you want them to see.

Think of every digital channel you operate in, use it to direct people to buying your wine. This is where social media becomes a remarkable tool, and where you can measure your ROI. Are the actions you are taking leading to more direct sales? Are they leading to increased winery visits? Most importantly are they leading to recurring transactions from people who buy or visit. It does not always have to be direct, but it should always lead someone to something.

You have to try a few things, but digital marketing and advertising allows for a lot of room for experimentation until you find your sweet spot. The ability to learn is your greatest weapon. The more you learn the more effective you will be able to tailor your messages to folks and catch them when and where they are interested. You'll not just see more business, but more repeat business.

Make sure you have your licenses in order, then focus your attentions on the states you can ship to

With the laws in the United States the way they are right now, wineries have a tremendous opportunity to engage people directly. But there are still a few things you have to do in order to be able to ship to wine lovers in different states. The best part of online sales and digital marketing is you can focus your attentions on the people you can sell to without wasting time on the folks who can never buy your product anyway. Use targeting to focus your ads on people who can buy your products directly from you.

You can also use targeting as a tool to grow your following as you expand your direct licensing efforts. Once you decide to pursue direct sales in a state, especially if you have to pay license fees, you can target your social media ads, and dig through your email lists to start getting the word out. This will help you get a quicker, higher return on your licensing investment. 

But how can a small winery break through in a crowded market?

Much like the wine aisles at every liquor store in the world, digital channels are incredibly crowded. How do you stand out and capture the attention of people, and then retain it. It can be a really daunting task to go it alone. There are a lot of tools out there that are available for free, or for minimal investments, aimed at assisting small businesses in their online endeavors. Hubspot has had over a decade of success built on this, Hootsuite offers a fantastic tool to organize your social media posts and control them from one dashboard.

Content drives sales. You need to put yourself out there, create a lot (and we mean A LOT!) of good, honest, heart warming content that helps your winery tell your story. Then go out and promote it! Promote yourself, and promote other wineries in your region. You can do it alone, but its always better to be a part of something bigger. That's where we come in.

We've got your back

This is where we get to quietly announce what we are doing and what will be coming out from us in the following months. Vynl will be launching an online marketplace where consumers can buy wines directly from wineries. What we will be doing is engaging and exciting that audience of consumers to get them interested in exploring more about wine, and more about wineries. We aim to facilitate the relationship between winery and consume and help wineries benefit from the fruit that relationship bears. In the meantime we are intent on sharing the amazing stories that so many wineries have to share and developing how wine lovers of varied interests and knowledge will interact it.

Let us help you by telling your story, and get to heart of wine drinkers so that their hearts will open up to your wines. Get in touch!

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