Not that any of us should be headline chasers, but it’s hard to ignore the news that more people are buying online now than ever before.
If you aren’t selling as much wine online as you’d like right now, that’s understandable. It can be hard to go from a thriving tasting room to all online or home delivery nearly overnight. But there is opportunity here, filled with the possibility of both short-term and long-term gains.
According to Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the Wine Industry Report wineries can experience growth in several main ways:
This report came out in January 2020, months before the impact of COVID-19 accelerated the need for these avenues, all of which rely on digital communication. This same report says that 61 percent of a winery’s income originated with consumers who had been to the tasting room via on-site sales plus wine club and mailing list purchases. What about all those other people? The potential customers that aren’t part of your tribe already? That’s the opportunity!
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches here. The first is to beef up the direct to consumer channel that you likely already have in place: self-distributing through your website. The other is to engage a third party marketplace to help connect you with their consumers. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to you.
Marketplaces don’t retain any products, but serve as online shelves to sell what retailers (including wineries) have to offer. These don’t hold a liquor license and aren’t selling their own products, so they are a favorable platform for consumer choice as well and competition. According to Rabobank, “This channel has created new pathways for brands to gather consumer data and build awareness for online sales on the back of their websites, digital ads, and social media feeds.” It is expected that these will continue to grow at a double-digit pace over the next five years and leapt up 60% year-over-year in 2019. Here are companies that can help you tap into this growth:
About, according to LibDib: The place to buy and sell innovative wine & spirits brands.
LibDib is for any licensed producer or importer of wine and spirits. Wineries get access to LibDib through an online account, where they list their products and set prices. LibDib has transparent information available on their website, which we see as a plus for wineries that want to consider this option. Check out the Maker Intro Guide for a full explanation.
Cost: According to LibDib, they earn an average of 14 – 18% margin on each sale, but there is no cost to list your winery. Wineries are responsible for shipping costs.
About, according to Vivino: The world’s largest wine community.
Vivino’s app is one of the most popular for wine lovers, with over 40 million users. Wine drinkers scan and rate wines they’ve consumed, contributing to a crowd-sourced database that is then used to help others discover new wines. The app also makes suggestions based on each user’s preferences and entries. With a click, people can then connect with retailers. merchants, and wineries and purchase wine directly from these sources.
Cost: To determine if Vivino is a fit for your winery, contact its team online here.
About, according to Wine Routes: Plan your route, explore unique destinations, discover new experiences.
Wine Routes is known for helping travelers plan winery tasting room visits, via interactive profiles that offer visits a range of useful information. Though tasting rooms are closed right now, wineries benefit from the wine listings feature. This allows them to showcase their bottles, collect drinker reviews and link back to their ecommerce site so users can purchase directly.
Cost: It’s free for wineries to claim their profile. A premium option is available for $49/ month ($44/month if paid annually). This gets you additional winery details, links to book a reservation, and buy now buttons for your wines.
Note: You may have heard of marketplaces like Drizly and Instacart, and while it’s possible that your wine can flow through these channels, they are largely tied to retail. If your wine is in a shop or grocery store, these can be a tool to bridge that final mile from the shelf to people’s homes.
Rabobank says that the wine arm of this business experienced sales growth of 9% in 2019. Obviously the impact of COVID-19 will prove influential on this number for 2020, but what we do know is that in 2019 the majority of online DtC wine was purchased by people that had previously visited a tasting room and later purchased wine or signed up for a club, directly from the winery’s website.
This means that your website is essential, not only to keep your current customers but to reach new customers. New customers, ones that find your wine without stepping into your tasting room, are an audience that your website communications may not have tapped, so investing in improvements there has the potential to grow your business.
Wineries, according to Commerce7 (mentioned below) are missing out on their share of global ecommerce website retail sales, which are expected to hit nearly $4.9 trillion dollars by 2021. “With many wineries still not selling online, there’s a big opportunity to set yourself apart by providing an easy, interactive online shopping experience for your consumers.”
According to WineDirect, which you’ll learn about below, 20% of wineries account for nearly 90% of ecommerce sales. Interested in becoming one of these high-performers? Check out your options.
About: End-to-end DTC solutions for wineries of every size.
WineDirect offers a suite of tools and resources to capture growth in wine club, winery point-of-sale (for when you welcome them back), ecommerce, and marketplace integration. Not only does this company help create a seamless experience for your customers, they also work every angle to ensure that you have the right channels to stay personally connected to them. WineDirect has an extensive resource library, available for free now.
Cost: Plans and pricing start at around $80 a month + 2% of sales, but custom options are available, depending on your needs.
About: Customer centric commerce for the alcohol industry.
Commerce7 is a leader in wine club, winery point-of-sale (for when you welcome them back), ecommerce, reservation management, and CRM. The company prides itself serving businesses of any size to improve the customer experience online, with an understanding that shoppers will be making decisions without the help of winery staff or the charm of a physical tasting room.
Cost: Plans start economically with Commerce7 NOW, which has $0 Setup Fee, $0 Monthly Fee, $0 Preset Template. This can be live in less than 24 hours for US based wineries. For this Commerce7 earns a 2% transaction fee on sales. From there options move up the scale, with three tiers based on your needs. There is also a choice of designer-made templates.
About: Managing and growing your memberships has never been easier.
VineSpring’s membership-focused ecommerce, allocations, and club management solutions easily integrate with the systems you use to serve your customers, including mobile-responsive shopping options. “Technology agnostic” is how VineSpring describes how they merge platforms to empower their clients.
Cost: Plans start at $99/month for club management tools connected to an online store and move up the scale to adapt to your integration needs.
About: Integrated DtC software suite, including eCommerce websites, point of sale, and wine club.
vinSuite offers an all-in-one solution package that features many integration options. vinSuite states that it is the “largest, complete direct-to-consumer software available in the market.” They offer unique free, online training for clients so they can always be up to speed the benefits that vinSUITE offers.
Cost: Prices start at $199 a month plus set up and extend to enterprise solutions on a custom basis.
About: Everything a growing winery needs, all in one package.
BLOOM supports wineries with custom websites, unified ecommerce, wine club management, and point-of-sale solutions. Winery clients enjoy multiple sales channels, data integrations, and a full suite of consulting services. Design, development, photography, and marketing services are also available from BLOOM as well as Shopify site design and development (available at additional cost).
Cost: Prices start at $99/month with several options including a custom enterprise option.
About: A marketplace that helps small and independent wineries find new customers.
Vinebase helps small and independent wineries share their story and sell their products to a diverse audience of wine lovers. On the platform, wineries have access to tools to make sure everything stays compliant when shipping DTC. Wineries can also sell bundles, access vetted wine influencers, receive discounted shipping rates and have complete control over their branding and wine listings.
Cost: While it costs nothing to list wines on Vinebase, Vinebase takes a flat fee for each transaction + any payment processing fees.
Wineries are more supported than ever before in their efforts to sell more wine online. Outsider of marketplaces and DtC platforms, here are more of our recommended resources:
About: Simply how drinks businesses collect, manage, share, publish product information and brand content.
About: An association for owners, vintners, and winemakers of small production wineries.
About: A partnership that achieves your creative vision using our technical solutions.
About: GrapeIn platform allows buyers to source directly from small craft wine suppliers. The platform also supplies retailers and restaurants tools to educate, communicate and sell their unique offerings.
About: Guiding clients as they enter the digital landscape and employ a multi-channel sales and marketing strategy.
About: Provide businesses with right-sized solutions to accomplish your top priorities.
About: Direct to consumer members plans and consulting for wineries
Learn more about the challenges of selling alcohol on the internet in this blog post: Why is it so difficult to sell wine online.