Home Wine Business Editorial Sales & Marketing Digital Friction in the Wine Industry: Meeting Modern Consumer Expectations

Digital Friction in the Wine Industry: Meeting Modern Consumer Expectations


Strategies to enhance user experience, personalization and loyalty for
millennials and Gen Z consumers in wine e-commerce

By Laurie Wachter


Is “digital friction” in your team’s sales and marketing vocabulary? If not, you may be inadvertently creating pain points for your target audience, especially if you’ve been focusing on building relationships with digital natives like millennial and Gen Z consumers. 

Susan DeMatei, President/Founder WineGlass Marketing

Digital friction is when it’s harder for consumers to navigate your digital platforms than necessary. Susan DeMatei, president of WineGlass Marketing, aptly puts it: “You have a crop of 40-and-unders who grew up with the internet and have different ease and expectations in the digital world.”

Peter Jones, the head of Shopify Wine & Spirits, explains that friction encompasses everything “from waning attention spans to lack of patience for anything that takes more time than consumers think it should.” 

For instance, the average user will wait only 1.6 seconds for a web page to load before getting frustrated. Other sources of friction include non-intuitive user experiences, a poorly designed user interface, redundant credit card input or difficulty finding shipping information. 

Critical Areas of Friction

According to DeMatei, there are five critical areas where friction can arise and disappoint digital-native consumers:

  1. Speed: Slow-loading websites are a major turnoff.
  2. Personalization: Consumers expect tailored experiences.
  3. Ease: The user experience should be intuitive and straightforward.
  4. Customization: One-size-fits-all approaches no longer suffice.
  5. Communication: Keep the channels open and responsive and the language straightforward.

Technology as a Solution

Zac Brandenberg
Zac Brandenberg

Zac Brandenberg, cofounder and CEO of DRINKS, emphasizes that “Today’s consumers will perceive any impediment to a quick, seamless purchase as friction. There is little patience for slow websites, clunky mobile experiences, complex login processes or irrelevant product recommendations.”

One solution lies in adopting technology that eliminates these hurdles. Shopify and DRINKS, for example, have joined forces to integrate a wine-specific, real-time tax and compliance solution into the Shopify checkout system, simplifying online wine purchases. One significant step forward was adding the capability for Shopify to support the wine club model, where credit cards are held on file and charged as needed. The result is frictionless site navigation and checkout that also serves as an avenue for more sales by using add-ons, promotions, surveys and other checkout technologies to increase average order value.

Personalization Matters 

Shopify’s Jones points out that “most wine clubs lack customization and personalization. They often resort to a discounting model with oversimplified offers like the traditional three club levels and a long list of perfunctory ‘benefits,’ including 20% off all orders, free tastings and early access to special events.”

Instead, wineries should focus on customizing experiences and services to foster loyalty. Since so many consumers grew up on Facebook and other social media, they expect every business to know everything about them, making personalization essential. They also want to be able to change their orders with ease.

Data-Driven Loyalty Building

That means tapping into data and analytics to understand consumers and then ensuring they have the technology and skills to anticipate and meet customers’ unique needs seamlessly. 

Stuart Boyd, founder and CEO of Winealytics, advises wineries to “hyper-focus on strategy and outcomes when analyzing data,” while letting a statistical monitoring system alert them to issues in day-to-day metrics such as web traffic or social engagement. He also recommends focusing on data enhancement and analyst experience level rather than buying the latest AI tool.

The digital customer journey in the wine industry must be smooth, efficient and tailored to meet modern expectations. Reducing digital friction can help wineries thrive in the digital age and cater to the tastes of millennial and Gen Z consumers.

Susan DeMatei will be moderating Ease Over Exclusivity: Redefining the Direct-to-Consumer Online Experience at the 11th Annual North Coast Wine Industry Expo (WIN Expo) on November 30, where she will lead a discussion with Stuart Boyd, Zac Brandenberg and Pete Jones on how wineries can reduce digital friction and enhance the direct-to-consumer experience.

Learn more about this session and the WIN Expo event at wineindustryexpo.com.


Laurie Wachter
Laurie Wachter

Laurie Wachter

Laurie developed her love of analytics and innovation while advising consumer packaged goods companies, including Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and the Altria Group, on consumer and POS data analytics and direct-to-consumer marketing. Today, she writes about these topics in the wine, food and beverage industries for a global client base.

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