Can A Bad Website Hurt Your Winery?


I kid you not! This is a real Yelp review I found while I was visiting winery sites and clicking through to Yelp reviews. This small California winery may be losing business to their tasting room because their website is outdated and hard to navigate! In this instance, the couple decided to visit anyway. They didn’t purchase anything, but was their experience already tainted because they judged the winery immediately by the website? Over a year later, the site is still the same and they do appear to be in business.How many other people looked at the site and made a pass to another winery that had a better website experience?

We all judge on first impressions. Does your winery website, which is the “hub” of your online presence, make the best first impression? Does it turn people away?

Industry experts have been pointing out that many wineries are spending more money from dirt to bottle production, but when it comes to bottle to glass..they give up! I concur based on my findings…..

In the past year, I have viewed EVERY winery website in California. When I came into the wine industry in 2004, I worked for a winery CRM software company, so I have been on both sides and wanted to see how things have changed since then.

I did informal research on a few key items:

1. How updated was the site and how easy is it to use?
So many sites looked like they had not been touched since they were first built..maybe 1999?! They still function, but they look tired, are not mobile friendly and some didn’t even have shopping 2017!! Some sites you really had to dig around to see if they were still in business because the site info seemed out of date. I am probably not the only one who wondered that! I saw newer and older sites that had poor navigation experience. One pet peeve I have is when you have a separate Wines and Shop page. You don’t need both. Make sure you can buy from ANY page your wines are on! Think how easy it is to shop on Amazon with one click and model that!

2. Is it mobile friendly?
Again, the old sites that were not responsive for mobile devices. Even some newer (well within this decade new) were not responsive. There is no excuse as this technology has been around long enough to be upgraded. Given that over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices and almost 30% of transactions occur on mobile devices in the U.S., this is not something to overlook! Over 80% people polled over 2016 holiday shopping season, said they gave up on a bad mobile shopping experience and shopped elsewhere. Google now also penalizes websites in search that are not mobile optimized!

3. Did the site have a shopping cart?
Most sites do have carts these days, but surprising to see how many still asked customers to fill out an order form and fax it in or call during business hours. With the internet, business hours are 24/7. I personally do a lot of my online shopping at 2am in my pajamas. I may not take the time to call after your tasting room opens to order. If you have a shopping cart, make sure it works and is easy to use.

4. Is there a wine club member log in?
Well, if they had a shopping cart, they MAY also have a special member log in…but perhaps not. This may not have been as obvious unless I was a member with a login. Many sites with a login that I could shop through, did not appear to have new features like letting members log in and update their information or add/change their upcoming club orders. This is relatively new and useful feature winery CRM platforms have been adding, especially the wine club shipment changes. So many wineries are missing out on the opportunity to upsell.

5. Is there a mailing list signup form?
Shockingly, many websites don’t even bother to try and collect data from visitors! I did a study last year of my local county 30 days before I taught an e-mail marketing seminar in my area. I visited 219 local winery websites. If they had a website e-mail sign up, I joined. Out of 219 I visited, only 127 had a sign-up form. I waited 30 days for e-mails and ticked them off on a spreadsheet when I received one and counted if I received more than one. In 30 days, I SHOULD have received at least one e-mail from each winery. A quick welcome (and not just the one generated by their e-mail platform to confirm my sign-up). Nope! Out of the 127, only 27 sent me any e-mail at all! 7 of those sent a few e-mails. A third, by chance, of those wineries actually had attended my seminar! E-mail has the HIGHEST ROI of any marketing tool…for every $1 spent on e-mail marketing, there is a $44 ROI! Do YOU collect data?

6. Were social media links on the site?
If you have social media accounts and they are not even linked on the site, I wonder if you care at all about social media! This could also show the “age” of your site. You should encourage people to visit your social platforms and encourage people visiting your social platforms to visit your website!



So what are the current options out there if you need a website refresh?  There are at least half a dozen winery specific CRM’s out there of all sizes, options and costs. I don’t like to give a blanket recommendation on specific CRMs because each winery’s needs are different. When I perform audits, I evaluate each winery’s needs before I suggest any options. Some points to consider when choosing the best option for your winery:

1. Size of your winery
Most CRMS charge based on your case production or dollar sales you run through the system. This could make some options costlier for you. You may need fulfillment, compliance, inventory, accounting and other features that other wineries don’t.

2. Size of your wine club
See above. Larger clubs mean more dollars run through system a few times a year which could cause your monthly fee to go up.Some CRM’s may allow members to update their information and change club options. Some may not.

3. Do you need a POS system?
Most CRM’s offer a POS system. Prices and features may vary. What equipment will you need? Desktops, laptops, tablets? Will it require reliable WiFi to operate? Will you need printers for receipts.

4. Who Will Design Your Website?
Some CRM’s may assist with this, others do not. Some offer multiple templates to choose from to make it quick and easy. Others may require you to have a completed website to “bolt on” to their shopping cart. You have to take this into consideration with cost and time.

5. What’s Your Budget?
This is always a tough one to get an honest answer. Most businesses I have audited tell me they have nothing to spend on a new website! Today your choices vary. You could keep it simple and just inexpensively build a WordPress site, slap on a shopping cart and move on. You won’t have the wine club tools, POS, compliance, etc but you at least have a updated, mobile friendly site with a shopping cart. There are also a few of the winery CRM’s that are offering low monthly fees for smaller wineries ($150-$350/month) vs $1,000+/month. For smaller wineries with small staff, I always say you need to let the technology do all the work for you.

What are you losing by not having a website that reflects your winery, your wine and your tasting experience?

Question: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to updating your website? You can leave a comment by clicking here


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Posted on: September 24, 2017, by : Dee Saeed

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