Richard Van Ruth, business development manager at Wine Depot offers some tips on keeping your customers engaged and buying wine during this difficult time.

Among the constant barrage of information to process and seemingly endless ‘tough’ decision making and implementation, it can be hard to know which way is up right now. This is a moment to get back to the basics, controlling that which you can control and directing resources into things which can make an immediate difference. Nothing is more important than bringing cash into your business – in other words, just keep selling.

While key channels like domestic wholesale distribution and export have largely ground to a halt, you still have one very viable sales channel open – Direct to Consumer.

Focus on your direct customers and their immediate needs – which, not surprisingly, is getting some of your lovely wine dropped at their doorstep as quickly as possible. For many, a glass of your wine shared with their nearest and dearest is a brief escape from the COVID-19 emotional rollercoaster – instantly transporting them back to your beautiful cellar door, set among the neat rows of green vines and the rolling hills of your wine region – people need this more than ever right now.

Top tips to keep your customers engaged and buying wine

1. Communicate. Might sound too simple, but it’s not. Keep pushing comms out across multiple channels – email, social media and phone. Always include a Call To Action – aka Click Here To Buy Now!

2. Review your freight rules. Offer customers the opportunity to buy little and often – speed of delivery is crucial as everyone is scrambling to secure essentials including wine. The three Fs drive behaviour – Fast, Free, Freight.

3. Redeploy cellar door staff to the phones. Call your customers, ask them how they are going, update some details. You’ll be surprised how much you brighten their day, hearing from a winery they love and the person who served them last time they were there. Oh, and have a couple of offers at the ready as they will probably order a case. This is a far more productive use of their time than menial tasks like packing orders!

4. Vary your content. Nobody wants to see another picture of a virus molecule, gross. Send updates from the cellar, vineyard, pics of your team, your wine, food, recipes, the winery dog doing something cute. We are selling stories, voyeurism, escapism, romance and intrigue. Relate it back to enjoying wine and always have the CTA.

5. Segment your database. Remember, different customers like different wines. If you can, try to segment your customers into groups – white buyers, red buyers, specific product buyers etc. Send each segment a different email, focusing on what you know they like. You can still have the same photo or content, just a different product offer/highlight which links to your website ordering page.

6. Cycle offers. Sadly, it would seem we are going to be in this mess for a while. Try cycling different offers around to keep something fresh and interesting for your customers. You’ll also learn how they respond to different things. Now is a great time to be creative and try different things out. Key here is: Watch/listen to your customers.

7. Timing is Everything. Have you ever noticed how email open rates can vary dramatically depending on when they are sent? There is some science to this. As a simple rule, don’t send emails at 9am on a Monday. Have a think about the best time, test, evaluate and vary. This is even more critical for social media posting. Both FB and IG have tools which allow you to see when your audience is engaged. Take a look at this, post when they are watching.

8. Outsource your fulfillment. Allowing you and your staff to concentrate on making wine and generating sales. There’s never been a better time to do this with support packages like this being offered www.winedepot.com/dtcsupportpackage

Photo: The Barossa Cellar (Mike Smith).

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