This post is one of a series on wine shopping sites (or “comparison shopping engines” or “price comparison sites” there isn’t really a standard term). This one is all about wine-searcher.com.
Wine-Searcher is a large search engine of wine stores, winery, and wine auction, price lists and catalogues. According to wine-searcher it has almost 4 million products listed from about 18,000 wine shops.
But it’s claim to fame is really the ability to compare wine prices
Martin Brown created wine-searcher in 1999 after building one of the big wine sites in the UK www.bbr.com.
It provides two services to wine drinkers. The first one is free, consumers can search for wines but only see limited results. The paid or “Pro” version costs the wine drinker US$29.95 and the drinker can see all the results.
In the free version consumers only see sponsoring retailers – if they stock the wine. If they don’t then other non sponsoring retailers are shown. According to wine-searcher 97% of the searches are free searches so becoming a sponsoring retailer may be a good idea.
As well as always being listed on the free results page, merchants also have display ads. It costs US$2000 to $3500 per annum or you could test a month for $210 (as at July ’10, see rates for the latest).
Here’s a quick review of what a consumer sees (you may want to watch this Wine-Searcher Review at YouTube in a bigger format) :
### Sidenote – Disclaimer ###
This software was created by a New Zealander called Martin Brown (the disclaimer being that I’m a NZer). However despite NZ being the size of Oregon I don’t actually know Martin (more’s the pity as he seems like a smart fella). However my readers are mainly American so my perspective is from a US retailer’s point of view not as a “Kiwi”. We Kiwis are everywhere I tell ya, from Google (Craig Nevill-Manning, invented Froogle now Google Product Search) to the California ABC (Matthew Botting, the general legal counsel)!
Wine-searcher takes a different approach from snooth
While snooth gets a commission for featured listings, wine-searcher gets a periodic fee from sponsoring merchants and “Pro” version consumer buyers.
Snooth is more oriented around wine consumers and the wine industry contributing ratings and reviews, whereas wine-searcher is more about straight out price comparison. Both have significant free offerings for the drinker and the retailer.
Google Trends provides an estimate of the relative sizes of websites. This shows that wine-searcher maybe the biggest – but only just – it seems like they are all about the same size (see pic below, ignore the number of daily visitors as this is generally regarded as a good relative comparison only).
How to start
You simply fill out this form and they’ll start the process from there.
From experience wine-searcher will often seed their database with your wines to help you get started (probably by a process called web scraping).
But if they don’t, the standard ways of uploading products apply as per below.
Ways to list your wines
The file can be from many formats including: Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and Text (CSV, Tab separated, etc.) files. You just need to be clear about your fields e.g. name, price.
Wine searcher seems much more relaxed about how you describe your wines – they require the name and the price but that’s it. Though they do encourage you to put in a lot more information.
The data feed can also be either a XML file or a delimited text file. So they’re more relaxed about this as well compared to snooth and google.
I’m guessing they have a manual process the first time in the background, that maps the way the merchant defines a field to the way wine-searcher does.
A feed or text file that had the following fields would probably work well:
- name including varietal (up to 160 characters)
- price exc sales tax
- bottle size
- case or single bottle quoted price
- a product page URL
Ways to stand out
Wine-searcher, like google and snooth, suggests you add more information to your listing as these tend to get more referrals than less informative listings.
So I’d also include as many of the following in their own fields as you can:
- Release Status
- Certified Sustainable
- Closure Type
- Winery Notes
- Vineyard Notes
- Vintage Notes
- Tasting Notes
- Serving Suggestions
- Aging Details
- Review 1
- Review 2
- Review 3
Remind me why I’m doing this again?
Conversion rate. For every referral from a shopping comparison site you can usually expect 7-8% to turn into sales. That is much higher than most other traffic sources and given the amount of traffic it is certainly worthwhile.
Have you had any experiences with Wine-Searcher?