This year has undoubtedly brought its share of highs and lows for wineries, particularly when it comes to direct-to-consumer channels to sell more wine. Tasting rooms have been closed or under restrictions, closing off important streams of revenue, which are especially vital for smaller wineries that don’t work with third-party distributors. As a result, wineries have leaned heavily into ecommerce and club shipments to get their product in the hands of customers to enjoy from the comforts of home.
The good news: Customers have embraced this new normal. Now, the question has become: how can wineries sell more wine during the all-important holiday season? After all, in “normal” years, wine sales increase nearly 70% during Christmas and New Year’s, according to Nielsen. With all the chaos that has come with 2020 — and the solace so many of us have found in a good glass of wine — we expect those numbers to hold steady.
Here are our tips for making the end of 2020 a season to remember, in a good way.
Give the gift of live tasting
Part of what wine drinkers have missed most in 2020 is the ability to sample from a deep wine list in a tasting room and hear the stories behind each bottle. Whether you’re used to chatting with a sommelier or fellow enthusiasts, customers crave that social interaction. And these days, it’s more in-demand than ever.
So, how can you capture that appetite for connection with the restrictions that come with a pandemic reality? A little ingenuity goes a long way. Take your wine tastings virtual to introduce yourself to new customers and catch up with true fans. Tasting packages can combine your product with a live experience for a unique holiday gift that can unite friends, family, or colleagues all around the world. Those packages can be customized to include cheeses and chocolates to bring out the flavors in your wine, or you can keep it simple, letting the bottles speak for themselves.
Upsell with special offers and package deals
Customers welcome a little generosity over the holidays, so entice them with special offers and deals. You can promote those deals through email campaigns, social media posts, and digital advertising — any way to reach your customers where they are. In addition to driving sales, promotions are also a great way to generate attention and interest in new or lesser-known products, so consider incentivizing customers if they decide to try something new.
Another way to generate sales this holiday season: Encourage your customers to place larger orders with package deals. The more bottles they buy, the deeper the discount they can receive. While many people may forgo traditional holiday parties this year, a bottle of wine would make a great holiday gift for friends, families or coworkers to celebrate from afar.
Keep a scorecard for your campaigns
In all likelihood, social distancing will extend well into 2021, and it will take time for consumer behavior to return to normal. Expect to focus on ecommerce and club options for the foreseeable future and consider in-person sales as a bonus if local restrictions allow you to open. As you lean into those strategies, keep track of your wins and losses, so you can continue to adapt and thrive in this new normal.
Software can help you organize this data and trigger insights, so consider connecting your sales and marketing teams with business management software for more visibility. For a helpful look at anecdotes and loyal customers, take a look in your CRM and POS systems, if you have them. In many cases, combining hard numbers with individual case studies can provide you with a clear picture of what’s going on so you can adjust where needed or continue to push in areas where you’re seeing success.
Offer gift certificates
What’s the best way to make sure someone likes a holiday gift? Let them pick it.
Gift certificates are a great option, especially when you don’t know someone’s tastes, and that is frequently the case with wine. For many people, being able to pick a free bottle of wine is better than receiving a bottle they don’t like.
For wineries, gift certificates are an easy way to generate cash in hand. They don’t take up space, and once sold, they hold the potential to bring in new customers sell more wine. And on the off-chance someone never uses a gift certificate, consider it a gift — for you. Nearly $3 billion in gift cards go unused every year.
Run the numbers for 2021
After the holidays, it’s always good to take a step back and look at the big picture. A new year brings new changes and an entirely new market to do business in. Costs change. So do prices. It’s just the world we live in.
Given the rocky ride wineries experienced in 2020, it’s become even more important to have easy access to metrics that can give you a full picture of your business. In order to plan, you have to look back to see what worked well and where there are opportunities for improvement to sell more wine. Wineries that use technology to manage processes such as tracking inventory, calculating COGS, and measuring sales not only have more accurate data, but they also save time by eliminating manual processes. Plus, they are 23% more likely to expect their sales to increase in the next 12 months.
One thing to remember throughout all of this: Although 2020 has been one for the books, uncertainty is a fact of life for any business, and the lessons you’ll take away from this year will help set you up for success moving forward. So, take some time this holiday season to appreciate all you’ve overcome this unprecedented year and raise a glass to making it through.