In the two previous posts I covered how wine retailers can generate traffic and convert it to sales. In this post I’ll cover ecommerce administration. In a fourth post I’ll cover repeat business. That’s the process of selling wine online.
This is one of those posts that is pragmatic and practical rather than super exciting 😉 .
There should be a simple way to be notified of an order such as email, or a RSS feed (see Google Reader – one way of how to receive RSS feeds).
You may need to double check that funds have been received depending on your payment service (e.g. paypal, authorize.net). You can then process the order by creating and sending an invoice, shipping it and sending a shipping confirmation with a tracking number, and then closing the order. The system should also have a way of refunding/crediting the order as well if needs be.
Before the order has been placed your payment service will have authorised the order by authenticating the credit card and ensuring it has enough balance.
PayPal is the largest provider of these services, (perhaps 10% of transactions).
Depending on your eCommerce system you can have a simple PayPal Payments Standard or a PayPal Payments Pro connection. The former takes the customer off your webpage onto the paypal website before they enter their credit card details. The later makes it look like they remain on your own website.
The later is preferable but more expensive. Paypal rates are likely to be higher than your store credit card rates as well, perhaps by 0.5- 1%+ points.
Note Paypal requires all liqor merchants to sign an agreement stating they have the legal right to sell alcoholic beverages. You may need to ask them to send this to you.
You have other very good payment choices (especially in the US and UK): Google Checkout, authorize.net, and Amazon Payments as well as others.
To connect to your normal credit card merchant account you’ll probably need a payment extension specific to your banking arrangements which is a little more complex (and possibly expensive).
Most good ecommerce systems will integrate automatically with major courier companies like UPS, Fedex and other national couriers.
Shipping calculation for wine is a balance of using weight, cases, and delivery speed. This can sometimes result in complex tables of shipping rates being uploaded, so hopefully you can just use a standard setup!
Lastly you may need to choose a specific “adult signature only” courier service to abide by liqor laws. In the States shipping liqor across state lines is a legally tricky issue (please seek legal advice on this).
An important job that can take one heck of a long time!
Usually you need to have at least a unique product SKU, price, description, an SEO thing called ‘meta descrption’, and a SEO URL. What many people do is use winemakers tasting notes and photos, though this has copyright issues (please seek legal advice on this).
In my post Conversion I outlined how the landing page should ideally be the product page that the customer is searching for. It’s your moment to sell but with 500-1000+ products its hard to do this well. I’m doing some investigation into this and will let you know if I find some short cuts in 2010.
The easiest way is usually to use an Excel spreadsheet with one product per row and details in separate columns that match your fields. Then upload this directly to the ecommerce system as a comma seperated value (csv) file. Search your ecommerce site help for “csv upload”.
You usually include stock as one of the fields in the database and upload this periodically depending on turnover. Ideally this should be live by connecting it to your POS (Point of Sale) inventory system. This can often be an expensive project in itself. So as a small retailer its probably best to upload at the end of each day.
Controversially many retailers assume they can get stock from wholesalers or wineries if they don’t have stock in-store. Given the issues with updating stock above this is understandable but its frustrating to some customers. Indeed the WSJ had an article lambasting wine retailers for doing just this (I’ll do a post on this later). There may also be legal issues with drop shipping wine (please seek legal advice on this – yep I agree I’m overdoing this legal disclaimer bit).
And there are 100 other small things that need to be done but I don’t want to bore you silly with administration. My next post will be on Repeat Business, much more exciting…
What do you think is the most important part of the back end of a website? Please comment below