As wineries proliferate in British Columbia one of the challenges, faced by all businesses, is finding a way to stand out. In 1990 getting a B.C. gewurztraminer was notable, now there are dozens.
One way is to reach out to consumers, not only to inform them, but to draw them in as regular, repeat customers.
Blackboxx is a product of BlackSquare Inc., a Calgary-based company. Blackboxx helps wineries create a harmonious, comprehensive web-based experience with a bottom line focus on making wine clubs that work.
Judy Bishop is the chief marketing officer for BlackSquare. Regarding effective e-commerce, she says, “The wine industry is probably 10 years behind.”
Most wineries have e-commerce designed to cater to the ad hoc sale, which is a customer who visits a site and tries one or two bottles. These are curious tasters who have no loyalty to the brand.
Bishop says the biggest profits come from recurring shipments to people who feel connected to a winery’s products. A wine club establishes that ongoing connection to the customer, especially those who live a long way off.
Selling via a wine club cuts out the wholesaler and retailer, which can almost double profits for the winery. It is also the most efficient method of selling since an offering in the wine club with four bottles of wine going to 100 members on the first of the month is faster and easier to process than ad hoc sales done one at a time with different orders of different sizes.
Recurring shipments from wine clubs, BlackSquare estimates, provide from 50 to 70% of online revenue, leaving less than a third for ad hoc shipments. Ad hoc shipments are only as big as they are because that’s how most wineries are still doing e-commerce business.
Bishop says the Blackboxx design and costs are structured so that a winery of any size can take advantage of the most profitable way to sell wine. “We developed Blackboxx to deliver a low stress way of selling online.”
The service comes under different price models, based on a per-transaction charge, which goes down with volume. There are extra costs associated with customized options (mobile phone design is $2,500 for example) and the basic website design ($0 for using a Blackboxx template to $10,000 for a uniquely designed site). Potential users of the service can get an idea of the costs involved by plugging in their own numbers to the company’s estimator at http://blackboxx.biz/pricing/.