At the end of each year we review the performance of the eCommerce websites on our retailer network in order to try and understand how selling wine online is trending and changing. This year, in addition to looking at general traffic and transaction data, we have started to look more closely at how and why certain types of promotions generate more sales than others.
FREE SHIPPING DOMINATES
The clear winner in our study was free shipping. On average, pages featuring free shipping generated over twice as much revenue ($19.53 per unique pageview) compared to its runner-up ("Rated Items" at $7.81 per unique pageview). There wasn't any particular formula that seemed to generate the best results; the most important factor is simply having a wide enough selection of free shipping wines so that most product categories are covered. This type of promotion can be challenging given the expensive nature of shipping, but if you have the margin to offer this sort of deal, this appears to be the most impactful type of feature that one can run on a website.
CLOSEOUTS, RATINGS, AND LOW PRICING
We also found that pages featuring closeout specials, rated items and items under either $10 or $15 also provided a greater amount of sales than many of the other common features (such as "Staff Picks", "New Arrivals", or "Fine and Rare Wine"). The most effective examples tended to either combine low pricing and high ratings or were closeout sales featuring items selling over 25% less than their advertised regular price. While it's probably not surprising that ratings and heavy discounts have a strong effect on online purchases, one less obvious takeaway here is that wines at everyday prices (under $20) can perform very well.
STAFF PICKS SUCCESS BASED ON RELATIONSHIPS
"Staff Picks" promotions were the most common type of feature across our network, but ultimately landed in the middle of the pack in terms of generating sales. However, pages containing a staff member's name in the title were far more effective than ones generically called "Staff Picks". This should serve as a reminder that just as one might ask a trusted staff member in the store for a recommendation there's a willingness to place the same sort of trust in an online promotion.
While these findings can help you brainstorm features to add to your websites, it's important to make sure your brick-and-mortar effort help you maximize the effectiveness of these promotions. For example, most most of these offer require a store to develop an inventory where there are subsets of items with sizable margins or rated items with low prices. In the case of "Staff Picks", the success is also tied closely to the rapport the store's personnel has with local customers. As with so many other facets of selling wine online, the foundation of a successful promotion often starts at the brick-and-mortar level