Selecting an online sales platform for your winery can be confusing, complicated by high costs and unclear differences between platforms. It feels like selling wine online should be easy and affordable, but all too often wineries overpay for features that go unused and ultimately lose money in the process.
The reality is that many wineries don’t sell much wine on their websites. Most consumers prefer to pick up their bottles in person at the tasting room or the nearby wine store, and nobody is going to buy wine from some random winery online without being familiar with the brand first or reading amazing press about the wines.
This isn’t to suggest that your winery should avoid having an online store. Your sales goal should be to build your following, receive great press, and use email marketing creatively to drive online sales. When these things are done properly, you will indeed have enough sales through your website to justify the cost. However, we recommend starting with a budget-friendly option and not spending on a fully-loaded online sales platform until you have a proven marketing strategy and customer-base.
You are just starting up and need to focus most of your spending in the cellar to make the best possible wines. For these wineries, we suggest steering clear of the full-featured platforms with high monthly fees (i.e. Vin65, Vinespring, Orderport, etc.). You won’t need the allocation/club management for awhile, and when that time comes it is easy to have those companies match the online store to your core website design. Instead, opt for a low-cost option that allows for easy online sales without the extra features and costs. Our two recommendations are Squarespace and WooCommerce for WordPress.
Recommendation #1: Squarespace + Squarespace eCommerce
5-Year Cost= $3720. $500 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs ($2500 avg) + $12/month Squarespace cost
Besides being a very user-friendly website platform, Squarespace comes packaged with a great online store system. The online store backend allows for easy inventory management, custom shipping and taxation rules, promo codes and quick integration to the bank account of your choice. Your website and store are hosted on the Squarespace company servers, which are extremely secure and reliable. This is the most affordable option available right now. Learn more about setting up a Squarespace website and store with Vinbound. Examples of wineries using Squarespace eCommerce include Rafael et Fils, Thomas-Hsi and Kelley Fox Wines (screenshots shown below)
Recommendation #2: WordPress + WooCommerce
5-Year Cost= $5328. $500 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs for WordPress ($4500 avg) + SSL($82/yr through Siteground, first year waived) + website hosting fees to the server of your choice. No monthly fees.
Over a quarter of the world’s websites are built on WordPress, and for good reason. It is fairly easy to make ongoing content changes yourself without hiring a developer, and WordPress websites can be customized to your unique needs without constraints. The leading online store option for WordPress is WooCommerce, a free WordPress plugin that integrates seamlessly with your website. You can edit inventory and manage orders directly from your WordPress dashboard, and there are scores of WooCommerce extensions that allow you to extend the store capabilities to include extremely custom shipping calculations, the payment processor of your choice, compliance checks, and much more. WordPress websites also are top-ranked when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
Examples of wineries that use WordPress + WooCommerce are Lazy River Vineyard and Cherry Hill Winery (Screenshots shown below). Learn more about setting up a WordPress website and WooCommerce with Vinbound.
You are a well-known winery with a healthy wine club and a high volume of sales. You need a platform that goes beyond simple online sales to include wine club management, allocations, POS integration, etc. Full-featured platforms are considerably more expensive than a simple online store alone, and wineries just getting off the ground or with a smaller following will almost certainly lose money with these bigger types of solutions. However, established wineries will love that ecommerce, POS, wine club management and more are all bundled into one package, and won’t be bothered by the higher costs. We aren’t going to go into the specs of each of these platforms on this post, but they all offer very similar features.
Orderport: $1500 + $150/month avg x 5 Years = $10500 + website development costs
Vin65 Plus: (required for allocation mgmt): $999 + 549/month x 5 years = $33939 + website development costs
You have a wine club around 100-200 and some history of online sales. You are in the awkward transition period between being able to keep everything tracked on separate systems (excel spreadsheets, POS, separate online store) and needing a bigger system like Vinespring that consolidates everything into one platform. We have many clients in this category, and the best choice for ecommerce really depends on whether the winery needs POS integration and streamlined club management and allocations. If it was our winery, we would go the WordPress+WooCommerce or Squarespace route as long as possible until we absolutely required the all-encompassing features offered by the likes of Vin65 or Orderport. If you are still just selling some wine here, some wine there online, and don’t have plans for an overhauled marketing campaign soon, then go with the cost-effective platforms. Both WordPress and Squarespace look great and cater to your customers when they come knocking, without adding to your debt load.
The nice thing is, when you are ready to upgrade from Squarespace ecommerce or WooCommerce to something more fully-featured, you can send over your site to the third party provider and their team can create an online store to be a perfect or close match to your existing website design. Thus you can start budget-friendly and go into something bigger with little pain. Get your branding down pat, figure out an email marketing campaign that works, deliver a great experience in your tasting room, and when the time comes to expand you are in a good place to do so.