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Shipping: The Wine Industry Roadblock


DTC wine is reaching its tipping point, as discussed in a recent blog post from WineDirect’s CEO, Joe Waechter. Wine shipments have increased drastically as it becomes easier and easier to order wine anytime, anywhere. As more wine lovers shop online, shipping continues to be a major roadblock for most DTC wineries. It’s a complicated process – and it isn’t cheap. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Roadblock #1 – Shipping Is Complicated

Wineries know it’s tough to get wine out all across the country. You have to deal with correct shipping addresses, an adult signature, weather holds, shipping carrier fees, licensing, taxes and more. American wineries have to deal with compliance and even states that ban DTC wine shipments completely. Canadians have provincial shipping laws, so, unless you live in Ontario, you’re probably not going to taste any of Niagara’s wines.

Getting Past Roadblock #1

Find a compliance management system that runs in the background so the administrative work is easier for you

Maintain an accurate CRM database with correct customer details so the shipping process is successful

Allow redirects to avoid returns due to customers not being home or incorrect addresses

Clearly explain weather holds on your website and set carrots for tasting room staff to mention this in the summer months

Roadblock #2 – Customers Are Impatient

Customers have become impatient – we live in a world of instant gratification. Other ecommerce giants have set the bar high with fast delivery. Customers don’t care if they’ve ordered wine or a new shirt – they want it now. A confirmation email detailing their order is expected within minutes. If one isn’t received, chances are they’ll call the winery to confirm that the order went through. Wine customers want an estimated delivery date and updates on where their wine package is in real time, so that they can be there to sign for the package.

Getting Past Roadblock #2

Send an automatic order confirmation email

Get your shipment out quickly by scheduling regular pickups at your winery

Give customers an expected delivery date

Allow text opt-ins to give customers real time delivery details straight to their phone

Roadblock #3 – It Ain’t Cheap

Shipping is expensive. It is the single biggest hurdle in getting more DTC customers. From the customer’s perspective, they can get your wine retail for the same price as DTC – they don’t have to pay for shipping and they don’t have to wait for it. Don’t just pass on the carrier cost to consumers. Since your winery profit margin is higher DTC, encourage customers to buy from you directly and give them a bit of a break on shipping.

Getting Past Roadblock #3

Setup accurate product weights so shipping companies charge you the correct fee

Send out ‘your order had shipped’ emails with an expected delivery date

Join a shipping loyalty program and crowd-source shipping costs with other wineries

Offer 1 cent shipping promotions to your top 50 customers, red wine lovers, local buyers, etc to drive sales

The Future of Wine Shipping

There are a lot of barriers shipping wine DTC. Support organizations like Free the Grapes which has successfully opened up states for DTC wine shipments. We’ve come a long way as an industry, but are still looking for ways to improve the shipping experience for consumers. If you have any great ideas for making shipping better for all wineries – we’d love to hear them in the comments below!


By: Corinna Wang

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