Five Stages of Growth for an Online Wine Store //php get_posflags()?>
Posted on | October 1, 2008
Written by | Ian Griffith
Given concerns this year about economic uncertainty, the holiday season for retailers is being watched very closely. In general off-premise wine sales have not suffered the hardships that restaurants are currently enduring, but poor performance in late November and December can completely undermine what may have been a moderately successful year. As stores seek to shore up their holiday sales, the expected 20% growth rate for online sales, as projected by Forrester Research, could represent a shelter from the worst economic weather.
The following are Five Stages of Growth for a Wine Website that we see repeated by the stores that join our ecommerce platform.
- Listing a Wine Catalog for Sale: updating your inventory online and making it visible to potential shoppers on search engines and wine directory sites.
- Grow your Online Customer Base: this can be achieved a number of way including advertising on shopping comparison sites
- Create Promotions For Online Customers: schedule regular compelling email promotions that encourage repeat business from your online customer base. If possible look for tie-ins with store events and promotions.
- Reinforce your Position Online: as your business online grows look for opportunities to improve your position on the following:
- Organic search results
- Search Engine Marketing
- Blogs and Bulletin Boards
- Repeat, Refine, and Remain Profitable.
There are many wine stores that have launched an ecommerce website that are satisfied with the additional business from having their inventory listed online. If the discipline required to write regular email campaigns is beyond your capacity at the moment this may be as far as you need to go. However, for more ambitious stores there is potential for more growth to be found online.
Before committing precious store resources to the creation of regular email campaigns it makes sense to wait until you have enough recipients to generate a worthwhile return. To collect hundreds of email addresses most stores need to look beyond addresses that have been collected in the store. We have found that one of the most productive forms of advertising is to list a store’s inventory on shopping comparison sites. These feeds require some maintenance but you only pay for customers who have clicked through to your website after viewing your product and price, placing them pretty far along the buying cycle. Bear in mind that your return on advertising cost should take into account that you are also buying customers who have demonstrated that they will purchase from your website. Capturing additional sales from these customers should be much easier than advertising to prospects who don’t know your business.
Once you are having some regular success sending out email campaigns your business has probably grown to the size that you have a dedicated ecommerce person. When it feels like you have hit a new plateau you can work to reinforce your presence online. By this time you should also have enough experience to know what sells for your store. This will help you identify keywords for both Organic Search and any Search Marketing like Google’s Adwords you decide to pursue. You might also chose to align yourself with a blogger who covers your niche, or if you blog yourself you might explore the various online bulletin boards to promote your blog and the store.
Naturally, having completed this cycle you are not finished with growing your business. Just like your store, your website needs constant tending and each cycle through these stages should lift your operation to new levels. There are certainly other factors in the success of a wine website like access to inventory, price, reputation, talent and local state shipping laws, but the above is a solid roadmap that any store can follow to grow a website beyond being an online catalog of store inventory.