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How to successfully sell wine online (2023)

Here are 3 action steps that will supercharge your online wine business

hands in red gloves holding a lot of US dollars
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The alcohol industry is experiencing fast growth in online sales. In fact, according to a recent report published by Statista, the global online sale of alcoholic drinks is projected to reach $45.5 billion by 2024. Selling wine over the Internet offers both loyal and new customers numerous benefits and it helps make your life easier with the ability to reach a wider audience, reduce operational costs, and increase sales volumes.

The state of online wine selling in 2023 and beyond

The pandemic fueled the growth of online wine sales as consumers sought safe, socially distanced alternatives to visiting their favorite tasting room or wine bar. In the US alone, online wine sales grew from 0.3% in 2018 to nearly 3% in 2022.

More wine was ordered online in 2020 than ever before, with a 27% increase from the prior year, and 44% of buyers purchasing wine online for the first time. But this upward surge isn't only pandemic-fueled. People got a taste of shopping for wine in the same way they select other online-ready products. In fact, wine industry analysts expect to see online alcohol sales grow by more than 600 percent to exceed $40 billion by 2024.

Challenges of online wine sales in 2023

But that doesn't mean it's been easy. Perhaps the alcoholic beverage industry is still learning how to make the most of the consumer interest in ecommerce. The numbers suggest some growing pains because wine consumption showed a second year of negative growth overall, and younger buyers are increasingly less engaged with the wine category.

The wine industry faces competition from various types of drinks, including beer, spirits, and flavored alcoholic beverages. The wine cocktails segment is growing rapidly with an annual growth rate of +35%, reaching $498 million in 2022, which is 2.5 times bigger than in 2019. Additionally, major wine producers now offer non-alcoholic options as well.

This landscape of new competition makes it increasingly difficult for small to medium-sized wineries to establish a successful presence in the digital space and make Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) work for them. But there's no reason to be discouraged — this new horizon is packed with potential, and many say that wine still appeals to people of all ages and budgets. It's simply time to get in front of people in ways that meet consumers where they are.

This guide is for those who want to begin selling wine online or are unsatisfied with their current digital sales performance.

1. Rely on an effective wine compliant ecommerce platform

Compare and choose a DTC solution designed for the alcohol industry

When comparing and choosing your wine DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) ecommerce solution, make sure to consider several factors and must-have features.

  • Integration: you will want one easy-to-use platform that works nicely along the rest of your winery tech stack.
  • Organization and automation: your DTC system should help you stay organized, cut down on repetitive tasks, and free up time to focus on making more of what you do best: wine!
  • Scalability: Silicon Valley Bank's Direct-to-Consumer Wine Survey report highlights the growing importance of digital sales for wineries. You will want your DTC platform to be reliable, flexible, and scalable so that it can adapt to changing trends and grow with your business.
  • Compliance tools: Compliance is an essential aspect of DTC wine sales. Make sure the solution you choose has compliance tools to help you navigate the complex regulations surrounding DTC wine shipping (especially in the US).
  • Integrated POS systems: To provide a great customer experience, make sure your in-person tasting room point-of-sales communicates with your online store. You want to have all your shopper's data consolidated in one place and avoid separate sources.

It is essential to have efficient ecommerce software that focuses on wine, but equally important is to display your wine in a compelling fashion on the internet.

2. Invest in designing attractive product listings

To get the most out of your online wine shop, it is crucial to invest time and effort in creating appealing product listings tailored to different types of wine buyers. This will yield the best return on investment (ROI) for you in the long run.

Provide compelling and accurate product descriptions to prospective wine buyers

  • Write clear information: Include all the elements from your tasting notes, reviews from experts, and awards or accolades. To see what this means, take a look at Outshinery's proven ecommerce copy product.
  • Be customer-centric with your e-commerce copy: Ensure your e-commerce copy should speak to the wine buyer rather than just promoting your winery or vineyard. The right choice of words can significantly impact the buyer's decision to click "add to cart."
  • Consider adding features such as customer reviews and ratings: Help potential buyers get an idea of what other people think about your wines before making a purchase.

Don't underestimate the power of imagery to sell wine

  • Use high-quality bottle shots: Use big, clear photos that perfectly showcase your bottles. Pay attention to the legibility of the text on the label, and ensure the vintage on the image matches the one you are selling.
  • Include close-ups of your back label: You can assist potential buyers in making an informed decision by sharing the essential details, such as your sustainability logos, located on the back of your bottle.
  • Add more product images to increase conversions: Did you know? The number of images on a product listing affects the clickthrough rate. Studies have shown that listings with one image had twice the conversion rates of listings with zero images, and conversion rates doubled again for listings with two images versus only one.
2 wine bottles on pink background

Showcase a true representation of your beverage product

Get flawless and consistent photography of your SKUs that stands out from the crowd on the digital shelf.
Outfit your portfolio

Go above and beyond with A+ product content to drive even more sales

  • Share pairing recipes on your blog (and with your wine club shipments): Keep your digital and print marketing fresh with the unexpected. Recipe pairings enable customers to enjoy your wine as a part of their life at home while cooking and eating.
front and back of a recipe card with wine pairing by Outshinery
Branded recipe card by Outshinery for Truett Hurst winery | Sticky Blackberry Caramel Spareribs with Dragonfly Red Field Blend
  • Feature product lineups as headers on your website: Product Lineups for your portfolio are designed to display multiple bottles at once. They draw attention to your selection and speak to a scope of tastes and occasions to appeal to your customers.
7 wine bottles on a table in a winter holiday scene
Bottle line-up for Scott Harvey Winery by Outshinery
  • Consider an interactive bottle spinner: With an eye-catching design, virtually show off your products' front and back. The Interactive Spinner takes up minimal space on your site yet makes a maximum impact when showcasing beverage packaging.

Update your ecommerce page throughout the year when the season requires it

  • Gift Box Photos are fully customizable gifting-inspired images that display packaging of any material or shape, capture closed and open views, and position your wine as the perfect gift.
Six 375mL wine bottles in front of a gift box
Half-bottles gift set for Duckhorn Winery by Outshinery
  • Seasonal Lifestyle Images market your wine to today's customers in the moment. Don’t repurpose old visuals again and again — nearly half of online shoppers will abandon their cart if your product images aren’t relevant.
2 wine bottles flatlay with forest elements
Lifestyle Image by Outshinery for Red Mare Winery

3. Make it easy to purchase your wine... and to buy again!

Provide fast, easy, and secure payment processing

When shopping online, customers are not concerned with the intricacies of selling wine legally across state borders or their winery's compliance challenges. Make sure to pay attention to the three points below to meet today's wine buyers' expectations.

  • Provide various payment options: Allow for multiple forms of payment such as credit cards, debit cards, and online payment systems like PayPal or ApplePay to make it highly convenient for customers to pay for their purchases.
  • Simplify the checkout process: Opt for fast login and checkout. Try to reduce the steps required to complete an online purchase and minimize the amount of information customers need to enter.
  • Be transparent/avoid hidden fees: Shipping wine is expensive. While delivery fees are unavoidable, ensure not to hide this additional cost until the end of the sales process, or you will experience a drop in sales.

Strive for a frictionless and personalized buying process

Remember these tips to reduce friction in the purchase process and improve online wine sales profitability:

  • Enable customers to choose their wine preferences themselves. Online buyers should be able to effortlessly sort your product listings by varietal, price, bottle size, wine tiers (like rare wine/library wine, reserve, wine club exclusive, etc.), and other criteria.
  • Provide clear shipping and return policies. Please provide detailed information regarding shipping costs, available delivery options, and your return policy. This will help eliminate any uncertainty and make customers feel more confident about purchasing.

Deliver excellent customer service, like you would at the tasting room!

  • Implement a chatbot across your wine ecommerce website. Resolve issues faster and boost customer satisfaction—all while reducing team workload with a live web chat feature linked to your ecommerce platform's helpdesk and ideally powered by AI.
  • Provide personalized recommendations on your own website: Have your ecommerce platform dynamically change wine product recommendations based on the person's previous purchases.
  • Consider using short quizzes and surveys: Help prospective buyers find their next favorite wines based on their preferences. This is also an excellent way to promote less-known grape varieties!

How to successfully sell your wine online in 2023. Summary.

The digital alcohol market is rapidly growing, and the competition is only going to increase. However, with the right strategies and tools, small to medium-business owners can successfully sell alcohol online. By following these essential steps, you can establish an online platform for your alcoholic products that will attract customers, generate revenue, and grow your business.

Online wine sales: Checklist

1. Rely on an effective wine compliant ecommerce platform

  • Compare and choose a DTC solution designed for the alcohol industry

2. Invest in designing attractive product listings.

  • Provide compelling and accurate product descriptions to prospective wine buyers
  • Don't underestimate the power of imagery to sell wine
  • Go above and beyond with A+ product content to drive even more sales
  • Update your ecommerce page throughout the year when the season requires it

3. Make it easy to purchase your wine... and to buy again!

  • Provide fast, easy, and secure payment processing
  • Strive for a frictionless and personalized buying process
  • Deliver excellent customer service, like you would at the tasting room!
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