Wineries can squeeze profit from club-shipment notifications

VINE NOTES JEFF STEVENSON, VINE NOTES BY JEFF STEVENSON

Tis the season for sending wine to your most loyal customers whom you have been building a strong relationships with for years. After running credit cards, packing boxes and sending emails to the club members, it is time to start some of the unpleasant tasks of chasing down club members to update the failed cards, updating addresses, changing custom wines, and getting new email addresses.

You get the calls from Jim in New York. He refuses to take any wine that wasn’t grown on the eastern slope of a mountain that is at least 1,500-foot elevation — yes, we know this guy — and wants to send this club shipment to his new home in New York, but all club shipments after should go to a new address in California. This is a time-consuming part of the club process and is all reactive instead of proactive. There is a better way.

CALL BEFORE YOU SHIP

VinoPro reaches out to wine club members after the shipment-notification email is sent but before the club has shipped, to try and avoid these situations. A proactive phone call allows us to confirm credit card details, verify billing and shipping addresses, double-check email addresses and offer additional wines for one of our partners.

Customers say they love the personal touch, and it gives the ability to add wines to the shipment they were already expecting. For one of our partners, we generated more than $100,000 in incremental revenue and lower club attrition in a single quarter by adding wines to these club shipments. We do this every quarter, and for every shipment, and is on top of what we already sell for this client when making calls during the year.

This level of service really sets your club apart from the others who will just hit the card — submit a charge — and ship the wine. This long-term relationship-building is crucial with reducing wine club attrition.

HELPS WITH CHIP-CARD TRANSITION

With the nightmare transition to tokenized, chip-based credit card technology being rolled out, the decline rates for existing club members is almost unmanageable. These are the same customers who have been buying for years and receive their club shipments like clockwork. Sending an email will fix some of the problems, but we have found that a personalized call prior to the shipment has allowed us to fix thousands of these during October, November and December (the critical sales period known by the shorthand OND) and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra wine.

With our fast-paced and excessively busy lives, we can take shortcuts like sending emails to those with expired cards, but by taking the proactive approach and calling these customers whom we established long-term relationships, we can prevent lost packages, ensure proper shipping addresses, confirm payments, and create an overall better experience for your most dedicated customers, your wine club members.

Jeff Stevenson (jeff@vinopro.com) is CEO of VinoPRO, a Santa Rosa-based direct-to-consumer sales, marketing and technology solutions company. In 2015 VinoPro was named to the Inc. 500|5000 list of fast-growing companies for a third straight year, unique in the wine industry. It works with Treasury Wine Estates, Madrigal, Papapietro Perry, Penfolds, Iron Horse, Benziger Family, Rodney Strong, and dozens of other winery brands. Vine Notes is a monthly column by wine industry experts.