Lynn Krielow Chamberlain interviews Bruce on VinVillage’s Wine and Dine radio show. You can listen to the interview care of VinVillage or read the transcript below.
The first half of the show talks about publishing on Amazon and the politics of wine distribution. After the ad break we get talk about the book which is where the transcript starts. LKC stands for Lynn Krielow Chamberlain, the host of the radio show. BM stands fro Bruce McGechan, me the author of How to Sell Wine Online.
LKC: You’re listening to Wine and Dine on VinVillage radio. My name is Lynn Krielow Chamberlain, host.
Well we just left off this conversation which is very political and emotional for some people. And Bruce I’ve sent an email to Tyler Colman a couple of times when he first started his Dr Vino blog. He joined me and he’s really become quite well known on the national blogging stage and we’l try and twist his arm to come back on and continue the conversation for people who are, I guess, producers. Gosh almighty it such a sticky subject and its so sad we can’t order wine and have it so easily shipped.
I don’t really know exactly the laws of delivering wines within the European union, is it easier to order wine and have it shipped across country lines in Europe?
BM: I think in almost every other country it’s easy to do. Either absolutely within the law or there is a pragmatic way to do it without the authorities being angry with you. It is the morality of alcohol I think that is the issue that goes right back to the Prohibition.
LKC: Morality and it’s not been a part of the cultural institution of the US. Its just not part of the history of the US in a way that is in Europe, Australia and NZ. You would think it is not too different to the US, but anyways.
But let’s go back to talking about the book now. Is it okay if I talk about how you have broke it down into parts?
BM: Let me give you a segue into that. There is a difference between sending books and sending wine. I have a large part of the book about why a local wine retailer, and this is aimed at the 5000 odd wine retailers in the US, its about why the local wine retailer shouldn’t get so disgruntled about their situation with the online wine competitors coming to market and the wineries going direct – and that is the freight.
The freight of wine is very very expensive. It is a large item, compared to a book, it is a heavy item compared to a book, and when you try and ship it over a long distance from the winery in Napa Valley for example to NY, that’s an expensive bit of freight. So what the winery in Napa Valley should do is freight it up in terms of cases and pallets of wine and send it to a distributor, and hopefully a wine store in New York, and let the wine store take care of the expensive freighting and fulfillment, and I guess distribution. And that’s a far more cost effective way to freight.
That’s why I think local wine retailers have a serious advantage in the market because they are buying in bulk and splitting it out in to single bottle lots, and allowing the wine drinkers to around the States to drink one bottle at a time. Essentially the wine drinker pays for their own freight, they drive to the wine store. They pay for their own fulfillment, they take it off the shelf and take it back home.
Wine drinkers like the buying experience. I’m sure many of your listeners like going into wine stores and browsing the stores. But they’re also taking care of a big cost that internet retailers usually have to pay for. Amazon doesn’t care, it doesn’t cost them much. For a wine retailer, for an online wine company, it’s a significant barrier to selling lots of wine in faraway states.
LKC: Let me ask you in Part III where you’re writing about traffic and how to increase traffic to your online store, even though you say to offline shop, how do you build awareness? In your book you teach people, so much of the future is online. So how do you bring people to your site and learn about the wines you are selling, or the beer you are selling, or whatever … the olive oil, that you’re selling?
BM: There’re a few parts, it’s the classic wine marketing funnel really, it’s getting people into the top of the funnel, what you and I call ‘traffic’. It’s through making sure the search engines can find you, and the search engines see links from trusted sites, and therefore rate your website as being a trusted authoritative source for your particular varietals you’re choosing to sell, and regions.
And then there’s the matter of saying look I’m a trusted source within my local area, my local town, its called local search engine optimization. Then there’s what I think everyone knows about nowadays: ‘Google Ads’ or ‘Google Adwords’, and banner advertising on other sites like wine bloggers sites. So you’ve got your search engines whether its paid, or non paid also called organic.
Then you’ve got the new kids on the block I guess, Comparison Shopping Engines – Snooth and wine-searcher. They are the two biggest ones along with Google Product Search which is the shopping tab or filter that you see on a Google search results page. So that covers Traffic Lynn.
The next stage is Engagement and I hear you talking a lot about social media on Wine Radio and you’ve had some great guests. That is the Facebooks and Twitters, and the foursquares, the Yelps of the world, Yelp being y-e-l-p. They are fantastic resources to show your community of wine drinkers and wine customers that you really know your wine knowledge, and you really can provide them with advice and information that they wouldn’t otherwise get, and you do that by interacting with your wine customers in various ways. So that’s what I call engagement and the second last part is what I call conversion.
That’s when your wine drinkers come to your website it is really easy to buy wine, that you don’t make it hard by having all these forms to fill in to complete the wine purchase. That customers feel safe with their credit card.
And the last part is good ol’ email marketing. It’s still there it’s an easy way for all of us to receive information that we want to receive. Perhaps the kids in their twenties are using alternative ways like Facebook but still people in their middle age, like myself, still like to receiving the odd email from their favourite wine store and winery, and we shouldn’t discount that one yet.
LKC: Yes, I totally agree. It seems like nowadays that wineries need to hire someone, if not full time at least part time specifically to devoted to all of this new ways of corresponding and engaging and build awareness. It’s so different nowadays even than 10 years ago.
BM: It’s not only different from 10 years ago it’s different from 5 years ago. So 10 years ago we saw the shift to Google with people searching for information on the internet by using the Google search engine results page. But 5 years ago Facebook made that appearance and now a lot of people prefer to stay within the same Facebook environment.
So things keep moving and I think the next big thing is location based services – so foursquare, yelp, scavenger, I hope I get the spelling right bit I think it is s-c-n-v-g-r. What that’s about is gaming, there’s quizzes, or you go to Napa Valley and check-in to a few tasting rooms, and at the end of it you get a reward of some type. It might just be a badge you can put onto your cellphone or it might be a discount form the winery. It’s an example of where things are going and I think, where we were really surprised by Google 10 years ago, and likewise with Facebook 5 years ago, some time in the next few years we’re going to be surprised with the likes of foursquare and scavenger making it’s rise into the wine drinkers hands.
LCF: Oh heaven, Bruce McGechan but this has been so fascinating you can never stop learning thank you so very much for joining us today from New Zealand on Wine and Dine. Learn more on line at VinVillage.com.