C Wagner wrote: ↑
December 7th, 2018, 10:29 am
As an eCommerce professional (not in wine) with some wine industry knowledge, I do agree with some of the points made by the person (Astra DMS?) referenced by the OP. At least, on the surface. It's true that wineries generally do a pretty poor job in eCommerce. I disagree with most of the rationale laid out by Astra DMS wholeheartedly.
If a consumer is visiting a winery's website there is an assumed level of knowledge of the winery already. People generally don't just randomly happen upon a winery's site. This is why the "story" or "magic" really isn't all that important. Wineries need to spend more time explaining the What of their business. More information on the wine itself, less on how Dr. Dave decided to leave his practice at the age of 65 and follow his life's passion of owning a winery. Chances are good that if someone's visiting Dr Dave's winery website they already know that story. What they probably don't know about is the new carignan they just released. People can actually buy the carignan. Explain more about that.
The point is well made that many wineries have sites that are extremely similar and cookie-cutter. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but this mostly comes down to many wineries using VineSpring or another out of the box, inexpensive software platform. They're easy, cost-effective, and (I'm assuming here) just don't break down. The McDonald's of eCommerce solutions, if you will. One piece of advice I'd give to any winery that would ask is to not be afraid to use a service, platform, etc that is not wine specific. Feel free to use a wine specific 3PL and couple it with a non-wine specific front end. Leverage non-industry people's love of wine to get stronger service at cut-rate prices. I'm sure there's a wine-lover somewhere down near your winery who works his/her days at Google, Apple, etc. They probably come into your winery all the time. I'm sure they'd be happy to do some work on the side for cheap prices if it means getting their hands on some of your higher-end, allocated stuff in addition to a few schillings. Your end product will be much, much better.
The mobile point is moot as any good website nowadays is responsive and will function equally well on mobile, desktop, tablet, etc. See point above.
Bottom line, so many wineries miss the point that a website is a revenue accelerator with a touch of marketing, not a marketing tool to sell things on occasionally. Margins are much better and you can own your customer interaction when you sell directly. Do more of that, and do it well.
Agree to some extent. You are absolutely right when you say that by the time a consumer reaches Winery X site most of the info is already known, be it via a tasting group, this board or similar to it, media write-up, or recommendation of some sort. At this point all a consumer wants/needs is an efficient way to place an order, in as few clicks as is possible. Many place orders while at work, being "occupied" for too long while placing an order is the last thing anyone needs. So, the fewer clicks the better, IMO.
Software wise, I disagree since I am on both ends of the aisle. IT for way too long by now. Main issue with wineries using 3rd party solutions, such as VineSpring, is the cost first, and then upkeep second. Cost, even for rudimentary boiler plate is easily $5K and rapidly climbing to the $30K plateau, or higher, depending on options. When, in reality, all a winery gets for that is a Shopping Cart and Payment Gateway. And a monthly upkeep of $250 and up, on top of cc fees per transaction. And more fees if they use payment gateways that also charge their own fees per transaction. Are wineries being taken advantage of? Absolutely!
Wanted to reply to Bruce and his view that wineries should have an interesting feature or two to attract traffic, just how many here received their allocation email/letter and then simply placed an order, maybe 2 or 3 times per year? Not really going back to the winery site until next release, right? Yes, it would be nice to have whatever feature(s), although I am not sure what would constitute one that would draw people in on a daily/weekly basis when any such feature would require a winery to again pay a 3rd party to actually code/test/implement the feature. What is the ROI on that? I am thinking of trying one out, just a thought at this point, easy to implement, FOR ME since I am the only one involved in the process and its just my time as investment, just not yet sure how it plays out and will give it a bit of time before I either add it to the site or chuck it. Just not sure what would draw people in to a winery site, on a consistent basis, and if Bruce wants to share his thoughts and ideas I am here to try them out, it would only be my time involved (read below). Bruce, feel free to reach out, if its not too time burdensome I may try what you think is needed and we'll see if it makes sense. But that said, I am almost sure Bruce will be proven wrong.
In regard to cost, since you seem to be taking a simplistic view, or rather altruistic one, IMO, and have not been involved on the winery side, as you already said. Not a critique of any sort, want to make it very clear, and I used to have similar view as well until I had to jump in with both feet. I was in that same boat all small wineries are with our prior effort, this time we decided to start from scratch and find a solution that works for us. Sure, I spent a few days doing research on my options, decided to use one of the most implemented and used platforms out there for eCommerce. Then bought a template, as you said, hoping that advertised ease of implementation and features would work. No. Really No, as in, What the hell is this crap and why it does not work at all no matter what? After a day of frustration of supposedly easy UI reconfig to simply get all the "look at me" jumping and singing bits and icons and endless scrolling just to get to see wines on offer. Wanted to buy another one, even an empty site sample template took >20 seconds just to load and display, and when reached the author said my internet speed is at fault, never mind that it is usually 120-150Mb down. So, I laughed, hard, for a bit, and I chucked it all, got a readily available FREE template, OceanWP, probably the best one out there save for one more, bought a Pro version editor for it to make my life easier, checked most of the "look at me!" features and endless scrolling, and was all done in 2 weeks' time, tested and uploaded. All the features we wanted, including security features, stats, and all. Simple, easy to navigate UI. Shopping Cart, of course, and I made it a simple one step/page feature, and Payment Gateway that only charges us per transaction and no monthly minimum maintenance fees when in-between releases. All in? I'd say $200, actually less, for a setup others pay $5-30K for, for all the customization we wanted/needed. And I included learning some Illustrator in that same 2 weeks' time frame as I handled all the graphics by myself as well. Big question is, just how many wineries are able to do that sans IT on staff? Small guys cannot. Even large guys pay hefty fees, at one point I worked in a shop that did large Napa based wine distributor inventory and now do other well known wineries in Napa, hefty fees just to keep inventory. Unreal. I do understand your point about having someone from local IT companies to help out, but I am not sure how realistic that is, finding such volunteers in this day and age. Most code in Java or C++, it would take them time to learn what I had to to get eCommerce done, and I really doubt anyone will do that just to help out a winery. eCommerce engines are pretty much all PHP and MySQL, with some CSS to do custom UI features.
In basic terms, small winery can easily save anywhere from $3-5K per year bypassing 3rd party solutions, just with having free Cart and Payment Gateway, never mind paying $5-30K up front for basic setup and then even more $$$ for any custom features they may want after they go live, or even simple updates. Its all cost driven and a view of ROI that makes small guys sit back and ask a very valid question, Why do we need to pay for a feature we have no idea will actually be useful and draw customers in? I offered a couple of friends of mine to re-do their sites, free of charge, now that I know most, if not all, ins and outs. But all those small wineries paying for a 3rd party solution really do not want to pay upfront for a feature or two that no one knows will actually pay for itself when they already operate on razor thin profit margins when all costs are weighed in. Do I want to get into this side of winery site setup business? Really not yet interested, just do not have the time. Although seeing just how badly wineries are being taken advantage of really pisses me off. One time setup fee is one thing, (hefty) monthly fees just for a Cart and Payment Gateway when they are readily available for free? You really have to be kidding me.
I also need to add that now that I am aware of OceanWP and its feature set, and a few other well known templates, you can't imagine how many other small winery sites all of a sudden look "very familiar" to me