By: Leslie Osborne, Head of Product, VineSpring

Expert Editorial

There’s a perception that we frequently encounter—many wineries expect their eCommerce and online storefront to perfectly mimic the design and structure of their brand’s website. This expectation means that wineries spend a lot of time, effort, and money customizing their eCommerce platform.

We’d like to challenge that expectation and propose three reasons why your eCommerce system doesn’t have to look and feel exactly like your website.

People don’t use the web like they used to.

There’s a fluidity to a consumer’s brand experience. Five to ten years ago, a customer might have encountered your brand in a couple of controlled scenarios—in a retailer, at a restaurant, in your tasting room, and on your website. Now, consumers are comfortable moving between different platforms (ie: Facebook, Instagram, Yelp) and channels (ie: email, direct mail, events) when engaging with your winery or brewery.

A customer might visit your website, “Like” a product promotion on your Instagram feed, rate your winery on TripAdvisor, read about your wine on a rating site, and Tweet about their experience at your tasting room. That’s five different online platforms. Consumers move through their online experience so fluidly from platform to platform they rarely notice when the URL or site structure changes.

The role of a website and an eCommerce system are different.

Your website is for marketing. It exists to convert anonymous visitors into customers and educate existing customers through the showcasing of your brand, your company, and your products. Colors, font, logo, site structure, conversion paths—these are all things that are important to thoughtfully consider and work with a web designer to create. You know best how you want to portray your brand.

An eCommerce system is different. It’s all about the transaction, moving someone from prospect to customer. The fundamental components of a transaction are the cart, the checkout, and account management. Harmonizing those components to make it as easy and intuitive as possible for a customer to buy your product, at any time, is critical.

When you introduce a bunch of customization and branding (marketing) you take on the responsibility of managing those customizations. This can create distraction and could become a barrier to purchase—if you’re not using a reliable eCommerce system or your system is highly customized, the burden of reliability ends up on YOU. So, if your system crashes, or isn’t hosted on a platform that can handle the site traffic your new release creates, your winery runs the risk of lost sales, a bad customer experience, and limited tech support to solve the problem.

Over-customizing your eCommerce experience creates more bad than good.

Customization in the cart introduces a world of potential problems for the winery. More than once, we’ve had customers hire developers to customize their cart. Usually, the developer isn’t an eCommerce expert and they implement the transactional elements incorrectly. This situation often introduces bugs into the cart, impacting customers’ ability to complete their purchase. If the developer happens to be a contract developer, the winery is often left alone on an island to troubleshoot and resolve any problems themselves.

Rely on eCommerce experts to create the best checkout experience for your customers.

Make sure your software systems have a team of eCommerce experts, like VineSpring, that dedicate all of their time to understanding what it takes to convert people to sales and create the best checkout process with the least friction—AND—the most uptime. Make it a top priority to have a reliable cart, secure checkout, and an account management platform with an intuitive user experience for your customers, so you can focus on sharing your products and your story.

The checkout experience should be different than, but complementary to, your website experience. Find experts you can trust, save your money, and stop customizing your cart.

Leslie OsborneExpert Editorial

by Leslie Osborne, Head of Product, VineSpring

Not only is Leslie an expert in the cross-functional delivery of web and mobile product strategy, but she also knows her way around the wine industry with a certificate in Wine Business Management from Sonoma State University and an Italian Wine Professional Certificate from the Napa Valley Wine Academy.  She currently lives in the Denver area and is the Head of Product for VineSpring.