To follow on from my last post, here is my Wine E-Commerce Sites Top 10 List.
Recent figures indicate that the number of wine online retailers in Australia has grown from 6 in 2008 to over 200 in 2013. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this growth.
There has also been increased competition from Imported branded wines fuelled by the high Australian dollar. Imported brands are estimated to account for approximately 15% of Total Wine sales Australia.
As a consequence, the amount of retail shelf space available in Coles, Woolworths and Independent Liquor Retailer groups for Australian wine branded products has been significantly reduced in recent times.
There are approximately 2000 wine producers in Australia. They have been forced to find other distribution channels to sell their wine such as: Cellar Door, On Premise Outlets, Export Markets and Online.
For some Producers, online stores are a channel to quickly clear excess inventory. For others, it is their primary sales channel on an ongoing basis.
Here is my Wine E-Commerce Sites Top 10 List, in no particular order.
Winerobot is a wine search engine that allows consumers to use a price comparison tool which lists places to buy over 15,000 wines from up to 100 participating retailers and wineries. Search results are presented in an condensed easy to read and scanned format.
The site can be very helpful when looking for a specific brand or type of wine. With a few notable exceptions, many online wine retailers have a limited range of products and a relatively small number of brands.
They have made efforts in recent months to add more content, with a Facebook and Twitter page but it’s basic at best. No visuals of the wine label/ bottle or product information are given. Here it’s just about the Search and tailored more towards those who are more knowledgable and clearer about what they are looking for.
Australia’s leading Shopping comparison site, who according to their website data (in 2011), attract over 2 million unique visitors each month. Curiously, wine is not listed as a category on the home page, so the casual user may miss it.
The Search function isn’t quite as powerful as Winerobot as it doesn’t enable you to search on a range of variables together. It is more tailored to the casual purchaser, offering visuals of the label and bottle, along with some product information. Attributes on the search function such as Varietal are shown as a list in full on the side of the page to help prompt people who may not know exactly what they are looking for.
There is a lot more scrolling up and down the page, given that visuals of each search result are shown. The page results can look quite cluttered and ad hoc, depending on how the store has paid for their logo to be represented. The name or title of each search result is not presented in a uniform manner also, making it hard to scan the page quickly.
3. Dan Murphy’s
The benchmark for wine retailing and wine e-commerce sites in Australia. Aside from an extensive product range with very competitive prices, some of the things they also do very well include:
1. Order & Delivery. I can place an order online and pick up the order from whichever retail store I choose. Or I can get the order delivered to my address. Exclusive online offers are regularly promoted to encourage return traffic to the site.
2. Education & Adding Value. Their website offers food & wine matching recipes, cocktail recipes, background information on product types, wine regions and other useful resource materials. They also offer a Party Planner and Glass Hire service.
3. Easy to use & navigate search, purchase & checkout sections with Shopping cart. They also offer regular in-store tastings.
4. Reviews. For each product, I can look at Professional reviews from Dan Murphy’s or Wine Industry Journalists. I can also check other customer reviews and add my own review of that wine. It will be interesting to see how customer reviews develop on the Dan Murphy’s site and other sites. Unlike hotel or restaurant reviews, some people may not feel confident enough in their wine knowledge or vocabulary to write their own reviews.
5. Have a mobile App, as well as pages on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Pinterest.
Update – Aug 2014
Dan Murphy’s is in the final stages of a plan to dramatically expand it’s online business with it’s “Drop Shop vendor” model. Click here to read the full article from smh.com.au
4. 1st Choice
I have included 1st Choice in this list given the importance of Coles in the Australian Liquor market. The revised 1st Choice site is vastly improved but like their retail stores they are playing catchup to Dan Murphy’s.
A search for a Fly Buy Offer (in VIC) revealed one offer as shown below. However this is the same price for everyone buying on the site. There is nothing to indicate what the FlyBuy offer is……
crackawines is an exclusive online retailer, which launched in 2010. They currently claim to be Australia’s largest wine site.
What they do well.
1. Establish trust and credibility straight away. For a new brand they prominently communicate on the Home page that they are a Australian Top 50 Online Retailer.
2. Communicate their unique points of difference for new users. On the Home page they communicate that they have the Biggest range, Most Information through Product Reviews, Savings of up to 70% off RRP and a Loyalty program offering Extra Benefits and Rewards.
3. Reviews. They have invested significantly in collating all the published wine industry reviews on the wines that they sell to the point where they now use it as a unique selling point as per Point 2. above. This is also matched with the in-house cracka reviews and consumer reviews. The design of this section is more cluttered and busier than Dan Murphy’s but it is very comprehensive.
4. Auctions & Deals. They offer aggressive daily auctions & price deals to keep customers coming back and visiting the site regularly.
5. Presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well as a blog that is updated regularly.
On the not so good side, they do not have a shopping cart implemented on their site. In most cases, the order is sent to the winery (or winery distributor) who then dispatch the wine directly. Because of this, each product must be ordered separately.
To survive in such a competitive market, here is a good example of trying to own a growing profitable niche in the market and doing it better than anybody else. nzwineonline is a wine site dedicated to New Zealand wine only, offering the largest range of New Zealand wines in Australia (currently over 200).
It is also a great online resource for New Zealand wine with information on wine regions, key varietals, Vintage reports and upcoming NZ wine focused events in Australia.
This is an example of small producers with a similar wine philosophy joining forces under one banner group – artisans of barossa. The group includes: Hobbs of Barossa, John Duval Wines, Massena, Schwarz Wine Company, Sons of Eden, Spinifex and Teusner WInes. They can create economies of scale at cellar door and on a joint e-commerce site.
Importantly, as long as the customer makes up a dozen order, they are free to order whatever combination of wines within and between producers that they wish.
Another example of finding a niche in the market and servicing it well. It is a source of frustration to many drinkers to try and find a retail outlet that has a good range of wines in half bottle sizes.
Brown Brothers have a long tradition of food & wine matching. They do an excellent job through their restaurant – Epicurean Centre, their website – Epicurean TV and members club – Epicurean Club of reinforcing this message.
What really stands though out on their website is the cellar door price list as seen below. It is unique in that each type of wine is shown in a flavour range. Ex: White Dry to White Fruity. It makes it very easy for a novice wine drinker to find the wine type and flavour profile they like. Then to quickly find the wine that matches that profile. The wines are also shown in suggested tasting order. They earn additional kudos for having a Chinese language version of the site.
nakedwines is a new crowd funded model of buying wine. Wine drinkers can become investors or “angels” in Independent Australian winemakers. “Angels” commit to keeping a minimum of $40 in their account each month which is invested directly with winemakers in making wines. The money is credited against any wine purchases they make. This results in being able to buy high quality wine at significantly lower prices. “Angels” can also withdraw their funds at any time.
It’s also a social networking platform for consumers to interact directly with winemakers.
Since launching in mid 2012, naked wines have secured just under 13,000 Wine Angels, raised over $3.5M and sold over 600,000 bottles of wine.
Update. From the Producer
Launched in early 2014, From the Producer is a site worth keeping an eye on. Developed by Victorian philanthropist John Cameron, Cameron Edge is a non profit organisation dedicated to supporting local producers of wine, as well as currently, cheese and olives. Consumers are able to buy directly from the producers. Excluding credit card and payment gateway fees, all remaining monies goes direct to the producers.
Producers need to be members of the relevant industry association, such as the Winemakers Federation of Australia in the case of wine.
Wine E-Commerce platforms
Looking for a specialist e-commerce platform for wine?. Two of the leading players are Blackboxx and Vin65. Both are proven platforms, offering a great range of features that have been adopted by leading Australian wineries, both large and small. Which one you choose will ultimately come down to what features are important to you and what payment model best suits your business.
Key Points to Note:
- Developed by Blacksquare Canada, with HQ in Alberta, Canada.
- Have an Australian office in Sydney as well as Hong Kong.
- Can use a template or customise the brand site to exactly how you would like it to look, integrating with leading CMS such as WordPress using the Blackboxx opensource API.
- Costs. After initial design and set up costs, ongoing costs covering site hosting, bandwidth, automated emails, SSL certificate, help & support are: $250 AUD/mth (with <300 transactions/qtr) or a sliding scale variable cost per transaction for more than 300 transactions/qtr.
- Blacksquare only account on Twitter.
Current Australian clients include: Larger wineries such as McWilliams, Evans & Tate, Debortoli and Brown Brothers, as well as smaller wineries such as Margan, Howard Vineyard, Ballabourneen and Gemtree.
Key points to note
- Developed by Vin65 Canada, with HQ in Vancouver, Canada.
- Don’t have an Australian office, but have local sales & general support.
- Uses a proprietary Vin65 CMS.
- Costs. After initial design & set up costs, ongoing usage fee of $299 AUD/mth covering hosting, bandwidth, automated emails and SSL certificate. Technical support is over and above these costs, paid as you go on a per hour basis. There are also additional upfront and ongoing fees to use their POS system.
- Australian website and on social media across Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Current Australian clients include: Larger wineries such Pernod Ricard with Jacob’s Creek & Brancott Estate, Chandon Australia, as well as smaller wineries such as Shaw & Smith, Plantagenet, Bremerton, Primo, Scotchmans Hill and Tarrawarra.
by Konrad Markham
Tips for Improving Digital Marketing
Still on the subject of wine, I shall also be speaking at the following event in Sydney on Oct 24, 2013. China Digital Marketing and Social Media Summit, L’Aqua, Darling Harbour.
Specifically, on how Imported wine brands are successfully using Digital Marketing and Social Media as part of their Marketing mix in China.