Building a Direct Sales Vehicle pt. 1

pendulum-2.jpgWith the pendulum starting to swing toward online sales within the wine industry, it’s important that we recognize one of the major differences between the virtual retailer/distributor and the traditional retailer/distributor.

As an online wine outlet, winery or retailer, your website and online engine is your Sales Vehicle. It should be responsible for everything, from how your customers perceive you, how they order your wine, how they are charged, where the order goes, inventory tracking, to even the actual printing of the label in the case of Windsor Vineyards. If your site doesn’t do this, wouldn’t it make your life a lot easier if it did?

If you use traditional methods, you have to communicate these same things to your distributor, who then has to communicate this to a retailer, who then has to communicate that with their stores, who finally puts it on a shelf for the consumer to purchase… and then the information has to funnel back to you. In the words of Tom Friedman, “the world is flat.” With the power of the Internet, there is no longer a need for such an inefficient hierarchal bureaucracy.

Wine 2.0 is already happening, showing the importance of online blogging, , and social interaction, while Tom Wark has comically notified us of the WITS (Wine Industry Technology Symposium), which is the industry’s “this-is-a-very-serious-business” event (www.wineindustrytechnologysymposium.com)… lol. They will cover interesting topics such as sales automation, supply chain technologies, vineyard management systems, etc.

The point is that it’s time to get on board with technology and , which both allow you to manage your business easier, faster, cheaper, and with more control. With your sales engine having so much responsibility, it stands to reason that you would want to have something that is well-oiled, fast, smooth, and reliable. Unfortunately there isn’t a Sales Vehicle you can take for a test drive, as most require some custom work before they are ready to roll. This leaves you with quite a bit of research/legwork to be done when all you want to do is drive.

We are starting a series that will help you make the right decisions along your journey to “Building a Direct Sales Vehicle”. It will include choosing the right sales engine and designing your website, handling delivery and logistics, and gaining exposure in the online marketplace. We welcome discussion from all the service providers in these categories, (though we already have done the research and have our preferences), as we hope this series will make it a lot easier for those trying to get set-up in direct sales, and facilitate a faster change within the industry.

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