You're not Amazon, Walmart, or Target, and you don’t have the clout to demand killer shipping rates from UPS and FedEx.What are your options as a winery to live up to the expectations that these monsters retailers provide?
When a customer places an order in your online store, don't wait to ship it! Figuring out a system for how to ship things quickly and efficiently will keep your customers happy. If you ship right from your winery, work with UPS, FedEx, GSO, etc. to have regularly scheduled pickups. If you ship with a fulfillment center, key in on the time from when the order is placed online or from the POS to when they ship it out. Partner with a firm that is able to get the wine out fast.
Speed is key on the tracking number as well. Consumers love to track their packages - often anywhere from 5 to 7 times before it gets to their door. Knowing this should change a few things for you:
- Get the customer the tracking number early. As soon as it leaves your facility, the customer should be getting a notice of their package status.
- Don’t miss out on marketing opportunities. If you're sending your customer to track their wine shipment on UPS or FedEx's site - you're losing your brand story. Since consumers track their package numerous times, there are great marketing opportunities to connect with your consumer. Get them to signup for your newsletter, show them your latest blog, showcase your next release or even join your wine club.
Let’s call it for what it is: free shipping. If you’re in the United States, don’t actually call it free shipping, but you can call it ‘shipping included,’ ‘1 cent shipping,’ or something similar. Consumers still know what it is and value it the same. Even something small like a set of headphones costs approximately $9 to ship through FedEx - so if you pass on the cost of shipping to your consumer, they will think you charged too much (thank Amazon, Zappos, and others for that expectation).
Upon initial inspection, offering free shipping may seem like it will hurt your profits. You may find in the long run that customers are willing to spend more money if you eliminate shipping costs. Thus, in all likelihood your shipping costs will cover themselves, and you may even increase your profits with larger average order values.
Don’t turn your shipping policy into a profit tool. If you try to make money off of shipping, customers will notice, and they will not be happy. Selling online is all about keeping customers happy.
Showing your shipping information upfront in a clear way is important. Have the information easily accessible on the pages that matter. Look at adding this information to your product pages, shopping cart and website footer/bottom navigation. By having this at the consumers' finger tips, it will streamline the purchasing process and will remove the negative experience they would get from having to navigate to find the page.
Naked Winery (image below) takes it one step further by putting the shipping information right in the product menu.
A customer who faces a bad experience will first blame the website for bad experiences (they don't blame FedEx for high shipping costs, and they don't blame the government for compliance regulations). The quickest way to ease some of those frustrations is to be up-front with customers. At the cart level (or even on the product page) show your customers their shipping costs, if the product is in stock, and if you can ship to their state or province.
Some wineries have great messaging around which states they are compliant with. Duckhorn (image below) is a good example of this.
Join A Program
There are several programs out there for retailers to use to help keep up with new shipping options. Amazon - one of the large retailers started Amazon Prime, a paid membership to get free shipping. This has been hugely successful (profitable) for them, and it's not only successful for Amazon. Constellation has implemented a very similar program called 'Star Shipping' where consumers pay for a membership and can get $0 shipping from any of their Constellation's USA brands.
For smaller wineries, a program like 46Brix, which is similar to Amazon Prime or Star Shipping, is designed so that consumers can pick from a large number of wineries and get $0 shipping from any of them. Wineries on average see a 108% increase in consumer spending once the consumer signs up for 46Brix.
Beyond a consumer-facing program, the Wine Institute offers their association a discount on FedEx rates. They can do this by using the power and lure of many wineries to help FedEx ship more volume. Vin65 just launched something similar with UPS, called Easy Ship. Vin65's parent company, WineDirect, partnered with UPS which means great UPS rates are passed along while providing a direct integration to make printing labels and emailing or texting tracking numbers a simple process.