Investing in Technology for the Future of Subscriptions

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that online subscriptions have been exploding lately, 3000% in only three years to be exact. Consumers can have anything from vegan risotto to men’s shaving products and of course, wine, sent to their door on a regular basis. But it’s not just eCommerce businesses that offer subscriptions anymore. More traditional brick and mortar companies like Starbucks and Sephora have joined the ranks. As a result, consumers’ expectations are evolving when it comes to subscription services and wineries should take note. It’s time that the technologies we use in the wine industry catch up.  

Technology That Meets the Needs of the Subscription-Buyer

There are a few stand-out retailers who are redefining subscription-based ecommerce and, as a result, consumer expectations. The behemoth Amazon Prime offers subscriptions on almost anything with easy management tools to control preferences like frequency and amount spent, free and fast shipping for members, plus plentiful customer reviews.

The Dollar Shave Club ships shaving supplies monthly and their clever marketing is aimed at men, a more untapped portion of the subscription market. And, Splash Wines has made a splash ( 😉 ) with oenophiles everywhere. They require a membership fee to cover shipping costs and then offer customers a few curated wine options, based on their wine preferences.

What do all of these experiences have in common?

  • They are super easy to use,

  • Responsive so that consumers can buy on desktop or mobile,

  • And, provide a personalized experience

As these companies get to know their customers better, they use the technology to segment and send them the most relevant communication and product offers possible.
 

Level Up Your Online Experience

Businesses of all kinds are embracing online, customer-centric, direct-to-consumer sales channels. This is especially true in the wine industry. But to be successful, wineries need an infrastructure that supports your business model, a personalized approach to your customers, and provides an excellent user experience.

Follow these guidelines to ensure that your online experience meets customer expectations:

Make Your Wine eCommerce Platform Work for You

You need a solid foundation to be successful in eCommerce. While we live in a world that’s made it easier for everyone to sell online, the alcohol beverage industry has to comply with complex regulations on top of everything else. Few eCommerce platforms meet the unique needs of a winery while also providing an excellent and responsive experience for customers.

VineSpring's technology allows its users to manage wine clubs in a way that empowers wineries to meet the new demands of the "subscription economy" through its simplicity and modern infrastructure. VineSpring is a great example of a wine-industry focused platform that integrates compliance, email, POS, and fulfillment. Integrations with technology like Square and MailChimp allows wineries to leverage the best technology alongside a great eCommerce platform.

 

Continue the Personalized Tasting Room Experience Online

Personalization and a modern, user-friendly online experience is no longer just nice to have, it’s absolutely necessary. It’s the norm for retailers to keep track of customers’ preferences and send them personalized communication. If Birchbox is sending customers makeup for their skin type, then wine retailers need to alert oak lovers about the newest French oak aged Cabernet release. The relationship often starts in the tasting room but that experience needs to continue to evolve online. By collecting customer information and using it in your customer communication, you can continue to increase the level of hospitality and customer understanding.

 

Functionality is Key

The online experience is the key to attracting, converting, and nurturing customers in the subscription economy. You want to make a good impression, keep your customers coming back for more and ensure there is nothing blocking their purchase. A site with good UX removes as many barriers as possible for someone who is interested in purchasing your product. Websites must be fast and flexible. You may only have a few seconds to get a customer’s attention so make them count. Seriously. Sites that are slow to load could lose up to 88 percent of customers. Is your site mobile-optimized? It better be or you can kiss customers goodbye. Consumers don’t have patience for sites that are difficult to navigate on smartphones or tablets.

The subscription-based model offers huge opportunities for the wine industry but to in order to compete and capitalize on the benefits, the wine industry and wine producers need to invest in technology and become customer-centric.

 

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Andrea Steffes-Tuttle