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January 18, 2010


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Tyson Caly

Great guest writer, and certainly an encouraging article. What can we all do to get wineries to believe?


I agree with Andrew - until wineries realize that it's 2010 and that the web is simply a part of life, they'll miss opportunities, make fewer sales than they could otherwise and pretty much leave money on the table. This isn't isolated to wineries - I see this among many smaller businesses. Instead of treating web interactions as just as important as face to face interactions, many small businesses, especially those who've been operating for a long time and those run by older owners, persist in thinking of the web as a nice addon that might make a few dollars.

To answer Tyson - we can't. In fact, after agonizing over this for a while, my 2010 approach is not to try to convert the people who, despite everything that's happened over the last decade, resist taking online seriously. Instead, I'm seeking out the people who realize that the world has changed, that it continues to change and that the web provides new opportunities. Then I'm going to help them crush their competition.

Sound ruthless? It's not really - I want to work with people who can look clearly at the world and take action vs with people who stick their heads in the sand. The latter takes a lot of work, they resist trying new things and they become easily discouraged when a new initiative doesn't work right away and in general tend to repeat what's worked for them in the past and put their efforts there. Some of this is simply that they only have so much time and money - but much of it is a fear of the new.

Bobby Cintolo

I agree with Andrew. There is so much potential for wineries and wine merchants to differentiate themselves from others in the industry with basic tools and habits. The little things are what will grow their relationships with customers.

Andrew Kamphuis

Thanks for the comments guys.

@Tyson - More wineries will believe when they start to see results from other wineries. Some of it is the 'Innovation Adoptive Curve'.

@Tyson, @Bobby - I also think its our job to enable wineries to get more results and to educate them. While the tools we build are always getting better, they still have room to grow.



I think educating people who have an open mind is worth it - but do you find many of those who aren't already trying something? Certainly I see a lot of people who are open to online marketing and sales but just need guidance - those aren't the folks I'm talking about above. It's the folks who still, in 2010, act like the web needs to prove itself as a sales and marketing channel or that it's some new-fangled thing.

Andrew Kamphuis


We see a large curve of clients. There are some wineries who are really innovative and trying new things. There are some early adopters. There are some who want to see proof that ecommerce will work before they invest. I'm sure there are some that don't believe the web is a sales channel.

Take something like consumer ratings and reviews. Amazon was innovative and implemented this years ago. Today we know it works and it leads to more sales. (The stats are there - even wine.com published their stats). But there are still wineries that don't believe, and I think there are some web developers who are also skeptical.

Wineries come to us as developers often wanting to try something new, to learn, etc – and I believe they are open to ideas, but it’s up to us to educate them on possibilities.




This is partly colored by the fact that I'm solo. I'm happy to educate folks and actually enjoy it, but I can't spend too much time working through the 'prove to me that ecommerce will really work' people on a pro bono basis.

Take Amazon again - they've been selling on the web for almost 15 years. The ratings and reviews have been around for years (the recommendations have been around for a decade). Now, a decade is a LONG time not just in tech, but in regular business too. When people are, over and over, confronted with evidence that something works and still adopt the 'well, I don't know' attitude, I try to divine what's behind that.. are they thinking it will be very expensive (doesn't have to be)? Very time consuming (doesn't have to be)? Or are they objecting from a fear of change? The first two are valid concerns and can be worked through... the last one really can't, at least not by someone on his own.

I do think that the shipping laws complicate things for the wine industry too - a lot of what I hear is that people wouldn't mind selling online but don't want to have to deal with a lot of regulatory overheard for a few bottles a month to some states. If we had uniform, easy to understand shipping laws, I think we'd see an explosion of ecommerce activity.



I have to agree with you on the reasons wineries don't move forward with on-line initiatives. I would also add here that many of the wineries that I have been involved with, providing e-marketing services, are smaller businesses and many are family-owned. Most have been burned by slick "marketing guys" and are gun-shy about anything that looks, sounds or feels like marketing. I also agree that the older a person in the decision-making seat is, the tougher the sale for trying new ideas and techniques.

One thing I have used to pry open their checkbooks, is to get them to look at how they actually engage other businesses on-line. This often gets them to realize that there is value to these initiatives and that they could be used successfully in their own business.

I would also say that the average small business has little patience for these things to show visible ROI, which is quite sad. When one thinks of the time involved in actually making the wine, this seems a no-brainer, but they have mostly proven me wrong here.

And, I too, have given up on trying to preach to and convert the unbelievers. There are plenty of others whom do get it and they are the ones advancing their businesses with whatever tools are available.

Andrew, as an aside here in relation to your comment "...Wineries get how to set up their tasting room to maximize customer experience...", I would also say that there are plenty of wineries that do NOT even get these basics. Craig Root, a tasting room consultant for many years, laments this in all of his seminars. How often do we all have a stunningly un-fulfilling experience in a TR? These, I find, are often the same people that avoid the on-line side of their business, too.

With the new technologies arriving monthly/weekly/daily for e-business, there is so much opportunity to engage the customer and grow a business. The true value for a winery is to create a "customer for life." I hope that the many wineries and other small businesses will eventually be open to all that this can mean to their survival and success.

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