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8 Tips on Selling Wine Online from the eCommerce Masterclass with Peter Burns of Waitrose

On 20 March, Old Billingsgate hosted the annual Wines from Spain Trade Fair 2014. New this year were two engaging and well attended Masterclasses. The second masterclass was presented by Peter Burns of Waitrose Wine Direct, during which he covered a broad range of tips and advice for ‘Selling Wine Online’. For those that weren’t able to attend I’ve summarised my 8 Key Tips and interesting facts gathered from Peter's masterclass.

8. Understand your customer

Waitrose have divided their customers into three key types and ensure they deliver on each sectors needs. They have classed customers into; Wine Lovers, Enthusiasts and Experts. Each customers needs are slightly different - the ‘Wine Lover’ may be a little intimidated by technical wine terms but are attracted to offer. The ‘Expert’ likes detailed information from the winemaker. All sectors like prompt delivery!

7. Develop a ’Two Tiered’ approach to online marketing

Gather data from your website, use this to map out a plan for the year, this plan should connect with seasonal purchasing information and cover marketing such as blog content, paid search and social platforms. On top of this firm base you should allow for ‘experiments’; for example Waitrose Wine recently sent out emails inviting customers to 15% off ‘Secret Thursday’ where for two hours only customers could enjoy money off.

6. Analyse data from Google Trends

Google Trends provides a useful insight into what people are searching for online, comparing these patterns with historic trends. You can use this information to ensure the content you are writing is interesting and relevant to peoples searches. Examples Peter provided included food recipes using wine being ‘big in search’ and that the number one wine varietal searched for is ’Sauvignon Blanc’.

5. Be Transparent

If you sell wine online and in-store ensure each platform connects up seamlessly. So if you provide tasting notes or reviews on your website have these on point of sale in your store next to the same wine.

4. Be Convenient

Peter talked about a ‘frictionless selling environment’ what this means is you want to remove barriers to any sale. The customer should never be frustrated when buying online, delivery should be as controllable (by them) as possible and the website should flow easily from discovering new wines through to checkout. This means preparing for the growth in mobile ensuring your website works well on all devices.

3. Give your Customers a Voice

As witnessed by the growth of websites such as TripAdvisor consumers trust each other and value reviews and rates provided by real people. Consider implementing a service such as TrustPilot where consumers can honestly review and rate your wines and overall service. Be prepared for honest reviews and manage these in a positive way. We would not recommend editing consumer reviews as you will erode trust if it looks like you are only showing positive review.

2. Be Relevant and Personal

Consumers want shopping to be tailored to their needs, this includes features online that help them select a wine matched to them. As you gather more information on each clients buying preferences you can begin to intelligently recommend wines suited to test - you could always gather more information by asking customers to complete a survey (Survey Monkey is ideal for this). Other markets do this very well - for example Amazon’s ‘Page you made’.

1. Try things out

Don’t be afraid to experiment, display adverts and ppc adverts allow you to try out offers and promotions in a controlled and fairly inexpensive manner. With a flexible approach to marketing you can look to respond to consumer needs and learn when it works (and when it doesn’t). If the weekend is looking like it’s going to be perfect for a BBQ you could implement a swift display advert promoting wines to enjoy with a bbq, connect this with some conversations on your social platform and write up an article on your websites blog - simple, connected thinking!

By Matthew Eamer - Hansell Design and Marketing
Specialists in Design for the Food & Drink Industry.