The Top DTC Wine Sales Tools of 2021


[Sandra Hess – December 30, 2021]

✓ Updated Communication Tools to Better Connect with Wine Brand Loyalists

On December 9th, Constant Contact published a report detailing the average email open rates by industry type. The Retail/Direct Selling category shows an average open rate of 18.7% with a click-through rate of .93% – meaning less than 1% of email subscribers are actually clicking in the email to take some time of action! Find complete report details HERE.  

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At DTC Wine Workshops, we help high-performing winery teams develop Communication Strategies by mapping the appropriate tools to consumer contact records based on preferences. We begin with a survey that asks brand loyalists to choose their top two communication tools in order of preference. Text Messaging and Email are still the top two forms of communication chosen in client surveys across the US. While many DTC Wine Order Management Systems now include Text Messaging features, RedChirp, one of Wine Industry Network’s 2021 WINnovation Awards winners, has made it easy for employees to quickly text customers from their own phone, without customers having access to anyone’s personal cellphone number. According to an article published by Wine Industry Advisor, almost 92 percent of customers contacted through the app’s text messaging respond within 5 minutes. When RedChirp surveyed users, they found that using the app saves 5 hours each week of playing phone tag with customers. RedChirp Founder, Jennie Gilbert cites research that shows 59 percent of consumers reply to text messages sent with RedChirp within two minutes, with an impressive 92 percent replying in less than five.

The Personal Call communication option is also growing in popularity as we wrap up 2021. Also, keep an eye on Social Media Instant Messaging as this communication tool became essential during the Covid-Era. TIP: Do take time to map out your Consumer Communication Strategy for 2022. 

✓ Hospitality Standards and Training Tools Build All-Star Winery Teams 

Long-term direct wine sales success begins with the prioritization of world-class consumer experiences. Every high-performing winery client leverages the ideal blend of talent, tools, and technologies. Today, more than ever, employee satisfaction and training support must be dialed in to better retain top talent. Boilerplate SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and Training Checklists no longer cut it in this competitive space.

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The Covid-19 pandemic forced many winery teams to offer reservation-style seated tasting experiences for the first time. With that said, frontline staff including Hosts and Wine Educators are now expected to provide a more engaging, interactive, and educational guest experience. Storytelling Tools, Consultative Selling Tools, Active Listening Tools, and the consistent use of Hospitality Service Standards including the Toolkit are now requirements to excel as a tasting room host. These top tools have been adopted by our high-performing winery clients as we assist with both the initial development of customized training guides as well as annual updates. Pictured here is a shortlist of Hospitality All-Stars in this 2021 recap as each of these individuals works to prioritize world-class guest experiences day in and day out. Cheers to each of you for continuing to pave the way for others in the industry! TIP: Begin 2022 with a solid Hospitality Training Program for your DTC division. 

✓ Cross-Training Tools to Encourage Higher Levels of Engagement 

The top cross-training tools in 2021 supported job titles that included “Live Chat Administrator” “Private Client Manager” “Greeter/Concierge” and “Social Instant Messaging Administrator”. At a time where wine brands across the globe needed to remain High-Touch in a Touch-less society, these new positions became essential to long-term success. We were able to help winery teams across the US, Canada, and Australia better retain top performers by rethinking DTC Division organizational structures and implementing new training tools. TIP: Identify areas to improve your DTC Division ORG Chart in 2022 that prioritizes reengagement opportunities and incremental sales growth. 

✓ Reengagement Tools including Private Client Services 

DTC Wine Workshops was the first to launch Private Client Services Development and Training Programs in 2018. We have assisted hundreds of winery teams with the initial setup and training necessary to launch this new DTC division. The Phone Sales channel was the fastest-growing DTC wine sales channel pre-Covid and is now a staple in any well-rounded DTC Strategic Plan. We help winery teams leverage key consumer data sets when determining if a Private Client Services Program could be beneficial in growing annual lifetime values and reengaging with first-time, qualified buyers. Not all brand loyalists will covert to the traditional wine club model today and too many wine brands are leaving money on the table by not inviting private client style buyers back in a meaningful way. Asking the right questions when analyzing consumer data sets is an essential step when developing proven models and new direct-to-consumer strategies. TIP: Block out time in January to conduct a consumer data analytics deep-dive and look at your top lifetime value buyers a bit differently. What are the commonalities of your top buyers in and outside of the membership segment? What kind of unique access points can your hospitality team offer a Private Client in 2022 onward? 

✓ Free Shipping & Free Delivery Marketing Tools during ABC Regulatory Relief

For the first time in history, US Wine Producers have been able to ship and deliver wine for free to consumers thanks to ABC Regulatory Relief during the Covid-Era. This Top DTC Wine Sales Tool of 2021 has allowed wine producers to prove an important model in the e-Commerce space by both reengaging with brand loyalists in between winery visits and expanding brand reach to new buyers across the US. Many wine consumers have enjoyed 2-3 click shopping experiences in 2-3 minutes with 2-3 day shipping times for the first time – and took advantage of FREE shipping offers on their favorite wines. According to Wines & Vines Analytics, winery direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipments hit new highs in November with total volume surpassing 1 million cases and the average bottle price for shipments coming in at more than $50.  The total value for the month was more than $604 million, which is 17% higher than at the same time in 2020 while total volume was up 3% versus last year. Shipments averaged $50.14 a bottle — a high point never previously seen in November. The total value of wine shipped producer to consumer in the US for 2021 is expected to reach $4 billion.

Alcohol e-commerce is set to grow 66% across 2020-2025, reaching more than $42 billion, according to new data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. TIP: Now is the time for wine producers to develop strong shipping offers on 6-packs and cases effective January 2022 onward. Once the Free Shipping offers are no longer legal, consumers will be seeking out competitive shipping offers to continue to receive their winery exclusive favorites at home and work. 

MORE DETAILS ON THIS TEMPORARY RELIEF CAN BE FOUND HERE…

The Department has temporarily suspended enforcement of prohibitions against licensees delivering alcoholic beverages—whether by the licensee, by third-party services, or by mail services—without charge to the consumer. Business and Professions Code Section 25600 prohibits licensees from providing any “premium, gift, or free goods” in connection with the sale or marketing of alcoholic beverages. This includes providing “free delivery” of alcoholic beverages purchased by consumers. During the current pandemic emergency, with the increased need to deliver goods to consumers away from the licensed premises, licensees may do so free of chargeThe Eighth Notice of Regulatory Relief was set to expire on December 31, 2021. Read more HERE as well as the ABC website HERE

✓ Community-Building through Digital Channels 

The past 19 months have allowed wine producers to better engage with connected consumers and new audiences through digital outlets. A captive audience of home-based wine consumers has opened an opportunity for winery marketing teams to develop and deepen relationships with brand loyalists while increasing conversion to tasting reservations and web store sales. The ability to have “Real-Time” interactions with winery hospitality teams thanks to Website Live Chat and Social Media Instant Messaging tools has allowed consumers to engage at a much higher level than at any time in history. Through our web training programs, we have helped almost 750 wine brands with the setup of Virtual Winery Experiences and have also helped many brands get set up with Live Chat tools. We can identify and track commonalities between digital communities that empower digital marketing teams to build campaigns encouraging deeper levels of consumer loyalty. This was a weak link when helping wine brands launch Brand Ambassador programs starting in 2015. One silver lining during the Covid-Era has been the ability to prove higher levels of conversion from digital channels to reservation bookings and wine purchase transactions in the winery e-commerce space. TIP: identify your wine brand’s top 2-3 digital communities in 2022 to increase engagement and conversion ratios. 

For more information about these Top Tools or DTC Wine Workshops services, contact us HERE.


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About Sandra Hess

Sandra Hess, founder of DTC Wine Workshops and the DTC Consultant Network is a subject matter specialist and public speaker on the subject of direct to consumer wine sales.