How Wineries and Breweries Can Leverage Data
Perhaps because it's so often discussed alongside such topics as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), but when we talk about data, we do so almost esoterically. As if referring to arcane knowledge that can only be aggregated, analyzed, and acted upon by practitioners of the dark arts — or software engineers, as they’re sometimes called. This, however, is far from the case.
By definition, data is individual facts, statistics, or items of information. Entities generate it almost by virtue of their very existence and collect it as a matter of course during even the briefest of interactions. You've probably already begun amassing some, even if you haven't realized it yet. It may not be readily evident what to do with large volumes once you do, especially in the case of small web-based business, wineries included, which often lack a formal analytics infrastructure. The good news is that this type of infrastructure isn’t needed to get started.
Here are three ways wineries can leverage data they've probably already collected to work for them and their customers.
This is one of the most common areas in which businesses employ insights gleaned from analyzing existing data, and for good reason. Customization lets you give customers the individual treatment they deserve even in the absence of a single exchange of words — think product recommendations based on purchase history. A customer’s order history may seem like an obvious place to start, but this mustn’t be misconstrued as having only obvious conclusions to offer, as doing such could blind you to any number of deeper insights.
Consider a customer who shops with you on a near monthly basis but only buys a rosé once a year if at all. A logical but hasty course of action might be to only rarely if ever recommend this customer rosé. This, however, would be a mistake. Data typically provides the richest insights when aggregated. What if the customer only buys the rosé in April? What if he always specifies a gift message? Factoring in these points, a new course of action that adds value for both you and your customer, might be to send him a discount on a trio of rosés or branded glasses at the end of March, and perhaps offer to remind him, should he purchase the gift, to make a similar order the same time next year.
That is the true value of analytics: not just having the data but deriving insights from them that lead to sound decisions that benefit both you and your customer. It doesn’t matter much if those insights come from pivot tables and spreadsheets or an AI in the cloud.
Learn more about personalization and connecting to your customers in The Evolving Wine Buyer in a Subscription Economy.
If your winery has a website, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard about site analytics. Programs, like Google Analytics, provide insight into how visitors behave while on the site. This information has considerable value, but just as important is finding out how customers arrived at your site in the first place. Tools can tell you where your visitors come from, but only you will know what to do with these insights.
For instance, if you experience a surge in site visitors from a guest post on an industry blog, you might decide to post more or explore similar topics. On the other hand, if you pay exorbitant prices for banner ads but most of your site’s first-time visitors are referred by a search engine, it’s up to you to decide if this means you should cancel the ad. It’s important to remember, though, that aggregate data tends to tell a more complete story. In the above scenario, it would be helpful to know if of the visitors referred by the ad, what percent of them went on to make a purchase?
Again, the value of data is not in merely having it but gleaning from it new and actionable insights. The “actionable” part is important; until those insights are turned into actions, they amount to little more than the 1s and 0s they once were. Of course, this is not to say that the “new” part is any less important. People are complicated and mercurial; even if you’re already using a data-driven decision model, it is a virtual given that patterns and trends remain that have yet to be discovered even as established ones are bucked and overturned. For this reason, continual exploration of your data within the new context are just as important as the initial analysis. Every winery and brewery — every business, arguably — must keep stride with their customers or else risk losing them. That said, with data and analytics becoming more accessible than ever, big and small businesses alike are perhaps better equipped to do all this now than ever before.
Without a formal analytics infrastructure, even the tiniest brewery or winery can still glean actionable insights out of their data. Whether it has been intentional or not, you already have data at your fingertips that can help your business customize, economize, and explore.
To learn more about VineSpring software developer and author of this post, Parker McDade, check out this interview with her.