Winery Ecommerce Points to Trends for Retailer Websites //php get_posflags()?>
Posted on | July 9, 2010
Written by | Ian Griffith
While ecommerce has become a prominent feature of retail wines sales for some years, the scale of retailer sales is probably much smaller than the impact of online sales for wineries, especially in California. According to Whole World Wines 92% of wineries have a website, with 70% of those using a secure shopping cart to sell online. On average these wineries conduct 15% of all Direct to Consumer (DTC) sales over the internet. The VinQuest survey for 2009 puts the total DTC sales at $3 billion, which suggests around $450 million in internet sales.
Wineries have been much more successful than retailers at gaining access to consumers across state lines which helps smaller wineries who often lack local distribution. A ShipCompliant study reports that large wineries hardly ever ship DTC which outlines how important this sales channel is for smaller wineries. While comparable research is not available on the scope of retailer ecommerce, the largest wine shops are typically the most prominent online merchants while smaller package stores are less likely to have a presence.
While Beverage Media specializes in retailer websites we do sometimes hear from a winery or small importer who wants help building a website. This really isn’t a good fit for us as most wineries sell fewer than 20 items that they hope will sell out before the next vintage is released. Our strength is working with thousands of products that are constantly changing price and availability. We work through the trade to identify items that can be sourced, we also present labels and tasting notes for the store’s products. This frees the store to concentrate on merchandizing and customer service, the part of the business they know best.
There is a competitive niche of website developers who specialize in winery e-commerce. A winery might include a Wine Club with different price levels, or an Allocation Builder for different types of customer; features that might be illegal for a retailer depending on your state. There has been some consolidation among these vendors in recent months. Competing winery fulfillment companies IBG and WTN have now settled on an ecommerce solution fromVin65. While both companies offer a range of services beyond ecommerce it is interesting that they think they can differentiate themselves despite the common platform. If the ecommerce component of their offering has become a commodity, then the flexibility of the platform to handle specialized solutions is vital.
For a retailer, the selection of a flexible ecommerce platform could open the door to 3rd party features and services. Adding features and integration as you grow can make your website more scalable than relying on a single vendor. You might choose to bring in a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist to bump up your organic search results; outsource your online marketing; increasing the integration between your POS and website might be performed by a specialist integration company. As more consumer activity is happening on sites like Facebook, wine community sites, location based social media sites. A flexible platform should have your product information organized and tagged on your site to give you control over how your brand is represented on social sites.
Whether or not similar consolidation comes to the retailer ecommerce space the future will clearly favor platforms that feature flexibility and integration options.