Selling wine direct to the consumer (DTC) is a vital component of the Australian and New Zealand wine industry. The 2021 Wine Australia Direct to Consumer wine report advised that DTC sales accounted for an average of 18 per cent of a winery’s income. And that the DTC share increases as winery production size decreases.
This figure has undoubtedly increased further in 2024.
So with wine businesses increasingly recognising the importance of the DTC sales channel, frustration arises thanks to a fragmented technology ecosystem. Technology to date has been complex and challenging for wine brands to access, holding them back from the innovation needed to solve the nuances unique to the wine industry.
Not only are wine businesses thwarted by their own fragmented technology ecosystems, but customer expectations have changed due to mobile commerce, social media, the new subscription economy, and a change in demographics.
Today wineries need more than just a website that sells wine to grow DTC sales. At a minimum, they require a tech stack, manageable in-house, which covers:
- A super easy to use eCommerce website builder and CMS (content management system)
- Point of Sales (POS) integration with access to customer and sales data
- Wine Club with intuitive tools to manage customer data, automate sales and shipments
- Flexible shipping options that integrate with their freight company
- Digital marketing tool integrations and automation
- Stock control capabilities
- Insightful, easy to read and actionable reporting
That’s why Shopify has released the Shopify for Wine platform.
Shopify for Wine
Shopify for Wine is a collection of existing Shopify Plus products & embedded apps to help wine brands achieve DTC growth. Suited for wineries with 50K to 500K cases of wine per year, this is a powerful platform to manage the technology ecosystem across multiple markets.
But what if your winery produces under 50K cases of wine annually?
Never fear; Shopify still has you covered.
What is Shopify?
Founded in 2006, Shopify is a purpose-built propriety eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. It’s a Canadian multinational company servicing 175 countries and supporting millions of retailers worldwide. To date, Shopify has aided over $444B+ in global economic sales.
It is A, if not The world leader in DTC online sales.
Benefits of Shopify for Small to Medium Wineries
As mentioned, Shopify has released its Shopify for Wines platform, which is a perfect fit for large wine brands. But, for those smaller family and medium-sized wineries, Shopify offers an All in One package taking care of everything from marketing, payments, secure transactions, customer relationship management and shipping.
Here are a few examples of the benefits of this multi-faceted eCommerce platform.
1. Safe & Respected eCommerce Solution
Millions of retailers trust Shopify to manage their online stores. It’s a highly respected eCommerce package with developers consistently creating new solutions to enable DTC sales growth globally.
2. Domain & Website Hosting
Every Shopify plan includes quick, reliable, and unmetered website hosting with an SSL certificate. You can either purchase your domain with Shopify, transfer it to Shopify or use a Third Party host and redirect the DNS records.
The downside is that Shopify currently does not host emails, so you will need a Third Party Email Hosting Service. The great news is that you can set up an unlimited number of emails address with Shopify, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Shopify will redirect to your primary email address for free.
3. Step by Step Setup Guide
Once you sign up to the platform, you can access a 14 day free trial and an easy-to-follow setup process when you log in. There is multiple step by step tutorials both by Shopify and Shopify Partners across the internet.
4. Themes & Designs
In the past, Shopify has had a reputation for not easily adding multiple customisable pages. Since the 2.0 upgrade, this is a thing of the past. Shopify offers numerous customisable free and paid themes, all built by approved Shopify developers. Alternatively, you can purchase a Shopify theme via Themeforest, Creative Market or one of the numerous other theme marketplaces.
Shopify enables developers to customise themes, opening endless possibilities for wineries to create personalised experiences for all customer types.
If you wish to build your own Shopify DTC wine store, stick with the approved Shopify Themes.
5. Responsive Design – eCommerce & mCommerce
Shopify’s online store is built to be “responsive.” This means the site is user-friendly on different devices and screen sizes, whether customers view it on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
Mobile devices currently account for nearly 70% of digital media usage (comScore). In 2014, the figure was around 45%; today, only 30% of people view digital content on a computer – how times change!
mCommerce (sales via a mobile device) is on the increase, tipped to reach $437 billion by the end of 2022 – a 21.5% increase from the year prior.
Shopify offers opportunities to build a mobile-first online storefront with one-click checkout and integrations to social commerce features.
Shopify’s inbuilt Shop Pay is an accelerated mobile checkout feature that lets customers securely save their email addresses, credit card, and shipping and billing information. It saves customers valuable time when they check out, especially if they’ve already opted into Shop Pay on any Shopify store.
6. Robust Point of Sale
Shopify has its own POS, which offers robust features for wineries that want to sell both online and in person. With Shopify POS, wineries can customise the grid interface of the app, check out customers on the go, offer custom discounts, send digital receipts and give staff different access levels.
It’s powerful hardware that easily integrates with your Shopify dashboard.
7. Easy to Navigate Dashboard
The Dashboard or Home screen in Shopify gives wineries a quick sales overview. Also, it links through the essential areas of Shopify.
Shopify Home displays information about daily tasks, your store’s recent activity, and the next steps you can take to grow your business.
The areas to take note of daily are:
- Total Sales displays the total sales made on any given day.
- Total Sessions displays the number of sessions (people – new & returning) who have visited the site.
- Products Viewed Most Often displays which products have been the most clicked and viewed.
- The Left Sidebar is similar to mission control.
- The Right sidebar displays the Total Sales & Payout Schedule.
You can also see Visitor Live, which displays the visitors who have been active on the site in the past 5 minutes.
8. Product Inventory, Stock Control & Multiple Warehouses
From my experience working with wineries, many seem to have a complicated stock control system across multiple warehouses. It’s one of the nuances of the industry. With Shopify, you can manage stock control across multiple warehouse points.
9. Multiple Sales Channels
Shopify also allows merchants to sell products on different online sales channels, from your online store to social media channels such as Facebook, TikTok & Instagram. Or you can link your product inventory to external wine services like Vivino to boost exposure and orders.
By connecting each sales channel to Shopify, you can keep track of your products, orders, and customers via the Shopify Home Dashboard.
10. Multiple Market Opportunities
Shopify can also help you scale and optimise your international selling in multiple countries by easily identifying, creating, and managing a multi-country store seamlessly from your Shopify dashboard. You can reach new international customers in just a few clicks, increase sales with custom buying experiences by market, optimise your expanding business for cross-border selling, change shipping rates, block countries you don’t want your website to be seen in and much more!
11. Digital Marketing Integration
Besides offering multiple sales channel opportunities, Shopify integrates with most digital marketing platforms. These easy-to-access integrations enable you to market your wine business via email / SMS, social and numerous other channels.
12. 24/7 Support
Connect with Shopify customer support over online chat, phone, or email – you can speak to a person, not a bot, across all three options. Support is available 24/7, and from our experience, they can help with almost any challenge wineries encounter.
Apps, Apps & More Apps
The tech stack on Shopify is built on ‘apps’. These Shopify apps function as plugins, extending a store’s functionality and improving customer experience.
Pricing, Apps & Unique Wine Industry Solutions
Now that you understand the benefits and opportunities that Shopify offers to build out your winery DTC sales channels, let’s consider the required solutions, apps, and pricing you may want to incorporate. Note: Prices are in US$.
Here are a few Apps we like to use…
Lock products behind a passcode. Create country-specific collections.
$9 per month
Wrapping it Up
Shopify is not the ‘Holy Grail’ built-for-purpose wine solution that wine sellers crave, but it definitely can manage wine products, bookings, inventory, customers, orders, shipping, and fulfilment. Wineries can also sell on multiple sales channels, including online, POS, Facebook, and Instagram, and link product inventory to external services like Vivino.
Also, with Shopify’s mobile-first approach, wineries can even manage every aspect of their store on their phone using the Shopify mobile app.
This writer’s opinion is that Shopify is pretty close to the Holy Grail for DTC wine sales. And, It will only improve as Shopify is constantly being updated for its massive global subscriber bases across online retail. If you need further help, please reach out.