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Two Very Different Wine Retailer eCommerce Websites

In my last post Wine eCommerce website: Custom Built or Off-the-Shelf? I talked about whether you should have a custom built wine eCommerce website or one “Off-the-Shelf”. In short I said pretty much everyone actually uses off-the-shelf software and the question really is what are your requirements before deciding which software or service provider to go with.

In this post I set out what those requirements are. To see the wine retailer eCommerce Requirements document scroll down to the middle of this post. If you want just download the pdf, customize it and send it out to eCommerce providers.

The eCommerce requirements document has Must Have, Should Have, Nice to Have columns on the left are for a very small wine retailer. The columns on the right are for a very large wine retailer or winery company. You can see just how different each retailer’s requirements are despite both being in the same business. The two wine retailer decision makers are very different…

The very small wine retailer

Is owner operated. He gets time off by having two or three retail assistants run the store one or two days a week, or just closes the store on a Monday. He has no specific promotional budget as any expenses directly reduces his income, so he’s a reluctant spender. Any expenses such as advertising and website development must lead to more dollars in than out.

He is really busy just keeping the business running. If he has a way to keep costs down he’ll take it, despite being really busy already. Most of his customers are local and repeat regardless of whether he has website or not. He is happy with using the internet but it is not his expertise. His expertise is wine and retailing.

The large wine retailer company

Has a 1000 staff with a sales and marketing team of 100 people including an internet marketing team of 5.

The team is led by a young smart marketing expert. She lobbies for part of a large marketing budget versus other sales and marketing managers. She is willing to try all sorts of marketing campaigns to boost sales, many of which will be handled by ad agencies.

Her team is driven by two things,

  • if they screw up, their career could be over in that company
  • if they do really well their career could skyrocket.

So they minimize risks and maximise chances to achieve marketing success.

Their customers are national, their shipping is from numerous (distributor) warehouses around the country. They have to communicate and cooperate with other teams throughout the company (including a very risk adverse IT team). They need to integrate with all sorts of systems from the sales and custom services team’s “CRM” through to the accounting department’s software and operation’s “ERP” shipping and supply software. Any eCommerce project is likely to be decided by recommendation from a committee made up of all the departments. A VP will sign off on the committee recommendation.

So here’s the difference

The small retailer’s key requirement is to have more cash come in versus out. The large company’s key requirement is to not screw up!

The small retailer’s Must Haves are based on a simple calculation of net margin i.e. sales margin less expenses. If a requirement’s expense does not outweigh its cost then it’s not needed.

The large companies Must Haves are all of these plus more to do with the technical specification of integrating systems. Although I may seem overly cynical about large companies the fact is they can afford to be much more careful.

Some web developers may think the very small retailer needs a few more Must Haves and the large company needs a few less but I think that’s probably splitting hairs.

The bigger question is for those retailers in between the very small and the very large. What do they really need? What are the Must Haves vs Should Haves vs Nice to Haves? Have I missed some key requirements? Feel free to comment below.

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Download 3 page pdf here: Wine eCommerce Requirements Document

PDF screenshots:


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