How to Increase the Exposure of your Winery or Cellar Door Online

What a year so far its been, global and national circumstances have had an impactful effects on local Australian businesses. With the devastating bushfires and Coronavirus being declared an international health emergency in January, no one could predict the effects. Retail businesses in NSW, Victoria and the ACT were especially affected by the fires due to travel restrictions, smoke haze and health effects. Despite this, Australian turnover rose 2.3% in January 2020 compared with January 2019. The Corona virus however has seen a dramatic change in how we live our day to day lives. So what can you do to grow and not wither away in this economic climate?

The Power of eCommerce

The push towards online shopping seems to be inevitable not just with current global circumstances but also as a more accommodating service option. Australian eCommerce continues to have an increasing presence in the business market with online spending reaching 10% of total retail sales in 2018, taking its share to two percentage points higher than the previous year. Australians spent $27.5 billion buying goods online, an increase of 24.4% year on year (YOY) while wine consumption over the last five years increased by 5% according to the Australian Bureau of statistics compared to other alcoholic beverages.

internet access within Australia increased from 46.8% in the year 2000 compared to 85.1% in the year 2016 with the government also investing in the rollout of the NBN. If you’re looking for long term sustainable growth, eCommerce is certainly a noteworthy solution for your business. Here are some reasons why consumers are opting to shop online.

  • Increased customer choice and convenience of shopping 24/7
  • Increased security ensuring a safe shopping environment, less concern for exposure to COVID-19
  • Access a wider range of products than are typically available when shopping locally
  • Increased demand for personalised products, including gifts, delivered to your door. Retailers are offering consumers the ability to co-design and add personal touches to their products
  • Reduced geographical boundaries
  • Knowledgeable shoppers with increased availability of information, reviews, comparisons, detailed product descriptions and images
  • Convenience and ease of ordering with no worries about traffic, navigation, parking, waiting in line or carrying of purchased items
  • An easy seamless customer experience

How running an online store can help your business

With the market evolving, wineries and cellar doors are faced with an uncertain future, especially with wholesale and overseas export. Many wineries have seen reductions of 50% overnight in sales due to the current pandemic.

This business will return in time, but the question is when and how long will it take to return to “normal”? Wineries and cellar doors are left with growing amounts of stock that is needed to sell with reduced cash flow. Not only that but due to international tourism numbers hitting all-time lows has also exacerbated the impact. It might appear to be all doom and gloom with this compounding effect on the market, but there are always solutions and opportunities in times of chaos.

The key is diversification to keeping business sales strong. Thinking outside the box is the only way to survive in volatile market conditions. With the operational slowdown in sales in other areas of the business, strategize to see how you can build new channels of revenue. If you do not have an online store now, now is the time to do it. A direct to customer strategy leveraging the power of online sales can create the perfect storm for your business.

Some advantages and ideas include:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Keep margins high across your product range, selling directly to consumers allows you to keep pricing at or around retail as well as keeping it in your pocket.
  • You can incentivise customers to join a wine club by offering discounts and ‘money can’t buy’ add ons such as barrel tastings, meet the winemaker etc
  • Keep your brand value high, do not bastardize or sell your products for less as this diminishes your overall brand over time which is hard to build again
  • ‘Stickiness’, your customers will become brand ambassadors and return to buy more wine more frequently and may even leverage friends through referrals
  • You can turn your eCommerce store into a recurring income model, let’s face it every winery wants a recurring income. Recurring income provides protection in the future for whatever events present themselves and smooths out your cash flow

How Google Ads can help your Winery or Cellar Door

A common myth and misconception with Google Ads is that you are unable to promote the sale of alcohol on the platform as it’s banned. You can, if you work within the framework of local laws and standards and you know what you are doing.

Luckily for us, Google is quite clear in what they allow to be advertised through Google Ads in Australia. Firstly, Google allows us to advertise the digital sale of alcohol and, in fact, they even encourage it through Google Shopping.

Google Shopping is a massive opportunity to increase online revenue. We have seen eCommerce accounts reach 15 to 20 times a return on ad spend utilizing Google Shopping, so it is a great low cost spend with a high return. With additional features soon to be released by Google including free organic ads as well as shop within Google Shopping via PayPal. If you’re not using Google Shopping, we strongly suggest looking into it.

Secondly, Google allows us to advertise alcohol information which includes information about brands and generic alcohol information. This is important as it allows advertisers to get creative with their long-tail keyword bidding strategies. With a well-structured ad account, you zero in on refined search intent.

So, what are the restrictions? These are the main things you cannot do while advertising your winery or cellar door products using Google Ads.

  1. You cannot target individuals below the legal drinking age
  2. You cannot imply that drinking alcohol can improve social, sexual, professional, intellectual or athletic standing
  3. You cannot imply that drinking alcohol provides health or therapeutic benefits
  4. You cannot portray excessive drinking favourably or featuring binge or competition drinking
  5. You cannot show alcohol consumption in conjunction with the operation of a vehicle of any kind, the operation of machinery or the performance of any task requiring alertness or dexterity.

Further to this, Google doesn’t let you advertise alcohol using personalization. This can be an issue if you use a third-party connector, like Shopify, to create your campaigns and re-marketing lists which may trigger a breach and penalize your ad account. But with the right technical set up with your product feed this issue can be easily avoided.

How SEO can help your Winery or Cellar Door

With fierce competition from both online and brick-and-mortar stores, boosting cellar door sales (and getting more customers to visit your wine shop in the first place) can be quite challenging. With studies indicating that 95-plus percent of consumers go online to search for local businesses before shopping, local SEO has become essential for wineries that want to increase their on-site retail sales.

But now that on-site visitation has declined, broader online organic traffic is just as important. Organic search is a huge part of a website’s performance as well as a critical component of the buying funnel. Customers do their research especially when it comes to new wine. Using SEO tactics to relay messages of good deals, reviews and new products can be a game changer and impact the buying life cycle in a positive way.

SEO is also a long-term strategy that is laying the foundation to an eCommerce ventures success. Think of it as planting and growing a new vineyard. That grapes vintage can yield value as years go on and the same is with SEO. A long term SEO approach will compound and help to establish and solidify your business for years to come.