Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at ShipCompliant's annual conference in Sonoma about the disruption that is happening in the DTC wine space. My greatest takeaway is that this is a great time for wineries selling direct-to-consumer, and also a very challenging one. On the one hand, many major regulatory barriers have been knocked down and buying wine direct is growing steadily. On the other, consumers expect more than ever before in terms of delivery speed and customer service. The good news is that there are many new tools and opportunities for small and medium wineries to succeed.
Here are my top three takeaways from the day:
1. Delivery convenience is key
Consumers don't just want fast delivery, they want easy delivery. That means delivering wine when, where and how they want it. Usually we think about the "where" as a binary: home or office. But according to UPS, only 5% of people prefer to receive their wine at work! At WineDirect, we ship about 40% of packages to business addresses, which means 35% of the recipients aren't getting what they want! One of the things we are working on to address this is creating an easy way for consumers to have wine delivered to a local UPS pick up point. We'll be adding thousands of locations in 2018, so stay tuned for more news on that front coming soon.
2. It's more important than ever to work with strong DTC partners
Over the past decade, we've seen a lot of positive changes on the DTC regulatory front - thanks largely to players like Free The Grapes - but new challenges are also arising. Regulators are becoming more aggressive, the frequency and pace of audits is increasing and regulation is increasingly "borderless." This fact underscores the importance of working with DTC partners who are committed to regulatory compliance, and who understand the unique aspects of the wine industry. At WineDirect we work closely with regulators across the country, and we also try to make it as easy as possible for you to comply with regulations. For example, when West Virginia changed their legislation regarding consumer warnings about fetal alcohol syndrome and blood alcohol levels, we added the required language directly into all order confirmations with a shipping address in West Virginia.
3. Don't be afraid to try something new
If you stick to the status quo, you are already behind. With consumer expectations rapidly rising and companies like Winc (formerly Club W) shaking up wine ecommerce, it is only getting harder to sell wine direct-to-consumer. If you are a small to medium winery, this is especially true. At WineDirect and Vin65, we are constantly trying new things to provide you with even more DTC opportunities. One example is online marketplaces where we've partnered with eBay, Vivino and others to make it super easy to sell your wines to new people. If you're looking for more ideas, check out our eBooks on How to Break Into the Top 20% of Wineries and How to Grow Your DTC Sales 15% This Year.