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Wine Ecommerce: What to do with Vintage, a real Quandry

I’ve avoided mentioning how to handle vintage in my posts. Its quite a difficult issue which I will cover here (hopefully with your input as I’m not convinced I have the best resolution to this issue).

SKU and vintage

This seemingly innocuous issue is a real dilemma. A significant number of wine drinkers want to know what the vintage is. At least out of curiosity if not out of knowledge of a region’s vintage quality.

Yet many wines do not have bar codes, and if they do they are not changed for every new vintage.

In a retail store this doesn’t matter because its on the label so can be quickly checked. In an ecommerce store you can’t be sure that the label’s vintage will be legible and, regardless, you probably want to identify this for consumer and Google search purposes.

I looked for the equivalent of a book ISBN, without luck, in fact I found most online retailers shared this frustration. There are some tentative attempts to make this happen in the States but nothing with strong industry support.

Here’s what I’ve done in the past

At first I had to create a new ecommerce SKU for every wine vintage SKU. So it became:

And I created a field (or ‘attribute’) called year so consumers could search on this field.

But then next year’s vintage would come in

You know how I say never try to outgame Google? Well sometimes Google is just a bit stupid ;-).

If after 6 months you change xyzbrand2005.html to xyzbrand2006.html then as far as Google is concerned this is a new web page and you have to start the process of gaining a good quality score or authority for this page from scratch !@#$

I mean I understand Google’s aim of judging quality results by looking at web page age, but for an industry that changes its products every 6-18 months this is a tricky dilemma.

So here’s what I did

I rewrote all the URLs so that they state xyzbrand-varietal.html without the vintage. I included the vintage in the ‘year/vintage’ field so it was still obvious in another part of the web page.

Not as accurate as with the vintage but sometimes you just have to take the least of your bad options…

Here’s what I would really like

For the worldwide industry to agree on an ISBN type barcode (which they sort of have). And then implement it (which they haven’t).

There are some brave companies trying to offer a stopgap but unless the industry agrees on a standard then we’re stuck with coming up with our own codes.

Boy am I after an answer on this one! Do you have a solution? Either to bar codes or to keeping your ranking…

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