e-Performance Measured For Wine Sites

An international survey of wine e-commerce websites conducted by Bordeaux Business School has named its top three best performing sites, with the US site wine.com coming out on top.

The study, compiled from the views of 2,800 internet users from seven countries, looked at a broad range of factors to reach its conclusions, including the usability, design and content of the site, and the range of wines offered. The results were announced at Vinexpo in Bordeaux last Wednesday.

Wine.com came in first, with the French site nicolas.com in second place. Third prize went to the UK site laithwaites.com.

Grégory Bressolles, Professor of Marketing at the Bordeaux Business School, and the organiser of the survey, said: “In a sector where market information remains highly confidential, this study sheds new light on the internet wine market, and the key factors that bring success in this means of distribution.”

Bressolles says that in e-commerce, those involved are hungry for figures, but the main players remain tight-lipped about the profitability of their activities. He says it’s clear that there are key factors that bring success to e-commerce sites, and these are jealously guarded by professionals. Simply building a website is no guarantee of success.

Bressolles was able to help with some figures, explaining that the sale of wine online is growing at about 30% per annum. Although it may only account for about 5% of total wine sales, wine e-commerce is now worth 100 million euros in France each year, and just under 2 billion euros worldwide.

In France, there are three companies, according to the Bordeaux Business School, which have a turnover of more than 5 million euros: 1855.com (14.7 million euros), chateauonline.com (9.4 million euros), and wineandco.com (5.5 million euros).

As a result of the study, the organisers have put together a list of key elements that bring a successful wine e-commerce site, and the profile of the average internet wine buyer.

Typical buyer

A man aged over 35, with a fairly high level of education, and a higher than average income. He is reasonably knowledgeable about wine, and his main motivation for buying is to enjoy a good wine over a meal with friends.

Key website elements

Information: detailed and clear information on each wine offered, with tasting notes, descriptions of regions and terroir, and food matching suggestions.

Wine Range: Keep updating and refreshing the list of wines, and offer a broad price range of wines and wines with differing characteristics. Allow sales of single bottles.

Design: Use modern multimedia tools like video and animation to convey information clearly and logically.

Usability: Make their visit easy, and offer a friendly face. Offer plenty of different means of searching (by colour, price, region, variety, etc.)

Security: Offer different means of payment and reassure the buyer with bank logos, etc. Make your policy clear about the use of customers’ personal information.

Interactivity: Make it easy for visitors to ask questions about wine. Allow people to track the delivery of their wine. Provide tailored newsletters, and offer extra services to loyal customers.

Building trust: Publish stock levels in real time. Offer different means of delivering the wine. Offer a proactive customer service policy in the case of breakages or late arrival.

Source: Drinks International

By: Richard Ross.