At Mastermind, we’re always on the hunt for relevant data about wineries and direct-to-consumer marketing trends. Why? It helps inform our client strategies and ensures we’re ahead of the game. So when Wine Direct announced it was hosting its first 2016 Roadshow in the Napa Valley, it was thrilling to discover the timing coincided with our USA study trip!

One of the highlights was a presentation delivered by Jim Agger from Wine Direct, who delivered updated research on The Next Generation of Customer Experiences. This data is predominantly US based, but it’s taken from a sample of Vin65 websites across the globe covering:

  • more than 9 million transactions
  • from over 1200 winery websites
  • US$29 billion in sales
  • small and large brands

The data was cut a number of ways from which to draw insights – of course there were star performers, with 90% of all wine sold by this group coming from only 20% of brands included in the analysis.

So what set these brands apart when it came to sales success? Three key factors:

  • Email list is four times larger

Brands that are selling wine online recognise the importance of email in driving sales. The top 20% were prioritising email acquisition, growing their list at a faster rate than competitors. These brands understand the importance of segmentation, frequent communication and the application of features such as trigger emails to communicate with customers at different points throughout the customer journey.

  • Average order value is $100 or more

Among the surveyed brands, there was no significant difference in bottle price between brands, but those who were successful understood the importance of selling more wine per transaction, focusing on the upsell by encouraging customers to purchase more so the average order value increased.

  • Charge less for shipping

Shipping is a huge barrier to purchase online. Those brands making the most revenue were charging 50% less for shipping as a percentage of sales than competitors. The results showed 20% discount is often equivalent to free shipping, yet free shipping is rarely offered. So even though you might think a 25% discount would lure shoppers, free shipping (equivalent to 20% discount) is a far more compelling offer.

NEWSFLASH: the gap is widening and those at the top keep getting better!

A large proportion of the top 20% of brands also increased sales by more than 130% in the period between the last study and the beginning of the new study. These brands are forging ahead by understanding customers’ needs and continuing to adapt marketing strategies to remain consumer-centric. So what did they do?

  • Focus on user experience

The top brands understand the impact of mobile on the user experience and modify their websites and digital communications accordingly. It was reported that 35% of all traffic to VIN65 websites in 2015 was from a mobile device, and 65% of emails were opened from a smart phone or tablet. Successful brands map out consumers’ interaction via mobile and ensure it’s a positive experience.

  • Offer guest checkout

It’s not rocket science! Most of us dread creating an account, filling in details in order to make an online purchase. It was reported that if you force people to log in or create an account before checkout, half of your direct-to-consumer sales disappear!

  • Go offline to drive online sales

Brands making money online realise the customer experience does not end at checkout. Consider customer communication – confirmation emails that should land in customer’s inboxes within minutes of ordering, with tracking numbers and estimated delivery dates. Sure, it’s difficult to quantify, but an integrated customer journey across multiple touch points pays dividends.

  • Implement a loyalty program

More than one-third of the top performing brands integrated some form of loyalty program into their marketing mix. Is it a compelling wine club proposition or recognising customers who have purchased before? Chose your own adventure as long as it involves accurately targeting valuable customers.

Keen to see the slides from the full presentation? Here’s the link


Brands that understand the importance of an integrated digital experience reap the rewards and enjoy top sales results. Ensure there’s a good program in place across online and offline environments to be capturing data, then think about the different communications and events to help nurture the relationship.

Need help?

Don’t forget, Mastermind can help with email marketing as well as building a strong website presence for your brand. We’re only too happy to assist. Give us a bell – 02 9818 7142.