By Vinbound Marketing
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.
Which Online Store is Right For Your Winery?
The Young Winery
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 recommendation is Squarespace with Squarespace Commerce or VinoShipper.
Recommendation #1 For New Wineries: Squarespace + Squarespace eCommerce
3-Year Cost= $3936 + 3% Transaction Fees.
$500 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs ($2500 avg) + $26/month Squarespace cost + 3% Transaction Fees.
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. The store design is very customizable and beautiful. This is one of the most affordable options 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.
Recommendation #2 For New Wineries: Squarespace + VinoShipper
3-Year Cost= $3182 + 9% Transaction Fees.
Website development costs ($2500 avg) + $250 integration fee+ $12/month Squarespace cost + 9% Transaction fees to VinoShipper.
One of the biggest issues that new wineries face is acquiring the permits to legally ship wine throughout the United States. Unless you plan to limit shipping to just a few states, it will be time consuming and costly to manually purchase your permits and report your taxes to each state. A great alternative is VinoShipper, which provides wineries with shipping permits to 40+ states almost overnight. VinoShipper is both a compliance and an ecommerce company. Their online store is embedded on your website, and any sales is run through their system. VinoShipper collects the proper taxes for each state and will pay these taxes on your behalf. There is no setup or monthly fee for VinoShipper, so if you sell no wine you will pay nothing for the service. However, if you do sell wine, there is a 9% transaction fee to VinoShipper. The main disadvantage we see with VinoShipper is that the online store design is very basic and not very customizable. If you are looking for a beautiful custom store with large product photos, this is not the best option for you. VinoShipper works with any website platform.
The Growing Winery
You have a wine club around 100 and some history of online sales. You are in the awkward transition period between being able to keep everything managed on separate systems (excel spreadsheets, POS, separate online store) and needing an enterprise system like Vinespring or VinSuite 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 you are trying to keep costs to a minimum, we would suggest WordPress+WooCommerce as long as possible until you absolutely require the all-encompassing features offered by the likes of VinSuite or VineSpring.
Recommendation For Growing Wineries: WordPress + WooCommerce
3-Year Cost= $6094.
$750 setup fee (Vinbound) + website development costs for WordPress ($5000 avg) + SSL($82/yr through Siteground, first year waived) + website hosting fees to the server of your choice (average $60/year). Does not include transaction fees of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
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 WordPress plugin that integrates seamlessly with your website. You can edit inventory and manage orders directly from your WordPress dashboard, and there are many 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.
The best thing about this option is that your website will look great, the online store will be perfectly integrated with your site, and your costs will be kept to a minimum thanks to no monthly fees for WooCommerce.
Examples of wineries that use WordPress + WooCommerce are Lazy River Vineyard and Cherry Hill Winery. Learn more about setting up a WordPress website and WooCommerce with Vinbound.
The Established Winery
You are a well-known winery with a healthy wine club, a busy tasting room 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, and wineries just getting off the ground or with a smaller following will almost certainly lose money with these large-scale solutions. However, established wineries will love that ecommerce, POS, wine club management and more are all bundled into one package, and won’t be hindered by the higher costs. OrderPort, VinSuite and VineSpring integrate with WordPress, while Vin65 has a proprietary content management system to build your website (and in our experience, the Vin65 website builder is very antiquated and difficult to use… sorry Vin65)
We aren’t going to go into the specs of each of these platforms on this post, but they all offer similar features.
VinSuite: $5000 WordPress Website from Vinbound (avg) + $2500 initiation fee + $75/month x 3 Years = $10200. This is our top choice in this category.
Orderport: $5000 WordPress Website from Vinbound (avg) + $1500 initiation fee + $150/month avg x 3 Years = $11900
Vinespring: $5000 WordPress Website from Vinbound (avg) + $1500 integration fee + $1000 initiatation fee + $209/month avg x 3 Years = $15024. Highly Recommended.
Vin65 Plus: $999 initiation + 549/month x 3 years = $20763 + website development costs. By far the most expensive platform.