2020 Year in Review, Looking Ahead to 2021

If you waved a magic fairy wand, where would your direct-to-consumer business be in one year, three years, five years? What do you need to do to get there? While none of us could have anticipated the events of 2020, there have been some silver linings. Now is the time to think about where we want to go in 2021, and marshal resources to get us there.

Silver Lining 1

One of the most exciting things coming out of the pandemic was that our guests discovered ordering wine online. A WISE winery always had a significant focus on collecting data wherever they interacted with guests, whether at the winery, at an offsite event, or via phone and online transactions. A solid winery benchmark was collecting at about an 80% visitor email signup rate. As an industry, we were typically sending emails with less-than-ideal response rates. (Check out WineGlass Marketing’s 2019 Email Benchmarks or 2020’s Email Benchmarks.) It seemed that our fans finally figured out they could buy wine in addition to all the other necessities they were shopping for online. By early April, those lists were dusted off and the emailing began in earnest, and with fantastic results, which carried through the end of the year. According to Wines Vines Analytics/Sovos ShipCompliant, their 12-month total of winery DtC shipments from Dec 2019-Nov 2020 compared to same period last year is up 14% to more than $3.64 billion.

Silver Lining 2

As the initial SIP orders extended, WISE pivoted to something we always said we would eventually do – we offered online classes, to great success. WISE made a conscious and deliberate decision to serve our way through the pandemic, offering reduced costs (or at no cost) to attend classes and hosting regional Community Forums (in 13 wine regions across the country) at no cost to wineries. Through our efforts, we served over 3500 winery team members last year. Many of these came through regional Community Forums hosted by winery associations, but a large number came through class attendees that learned to master outbound phone sales. We celebrated along with our wineries as they mastered selling wine online, pivoting Tasting Room staff to dialing for dollars, and increased their organization’s agility in these trying times. Our WISE #116 Outbound Phone Sales attendees sold almost $200,000 just through doing the outbound calling homework (about 50 hours combined). Community Benchmarks reports that phone sales grew by 56% year-to-date through November 2020.

Silver Lining 3

Finally, we collectively focused on mastering virtual experiences in a brand-appropriate way. The thought has always been there that industry needed to lessen the dependency on the tasting room, but consumers and some wineries were reluctant to make that jump. Necessity is the mother of innovation, and our industry has a lot of innovation to be proud of in 2020. We witnessed the birth of the 6th DTC channel – Virtual Experiences – or VX for short, and was the fastest growing channel in 2020. It promises to be even bigger in 2021 as we further master that channel.

What’s your 2021 Silver Lining going to be?

2020 has shown a lot of improvements in DTC sales: Web sales have exploded. Customers are enthusiastically answering our phone calls. Virtual experiences have launched overnight. The question is: If we wave a fairy wand today, what does your business look like at the end of 2021? What do you envision and how to do plan to get there?

Happiest of New Year wishes to you and yours from all of us at WISE.