Winery websites and smart phones2014 is the year you must think about your winery’s mobile website and how it appears on smart phones.

In October 2013,  57% of online retail shoppers used a mobile device to shop, according to comScore, a respected source of online marketing data. Forrester Research, another excellent source of market research, reports that 68% of iphone owners purchase on those devices. Just last week Gian Fulgoni, President of comScore, announced that 154 million U.S. consumers own smart phones, a number increasing by 24% annually.

Take a good hard look at how your winery website looks on an iPhone. Does it load? Can you read it or is the font size miniscule? Most Oregon wineries’ websites look less than optimal on a smart phone. And sales of mobile devices just keep growing.

Tourists driving through wine country are going to skip you and go to the winery with the easy to use phone website. Google does a good job listing your basic winery info on phones. However,  it shows only what it wants to show, not what you want people to see. And it may not be up-to-date.

Your winery’s mobile site is the place where you control the information you want tourists to see. Changes in hours, special events, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving announcements, promotions: if you want more tasting room visitors, you need an easy to use mobile site with the latest information.

Here’s an example of a good combination of mobile and laptop versions of a winery website, the Chateau Ste. Michele site:

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  CSM-iphone-screenshot1

The smartphone version shows a clean, simple menu leading to more easy to read screens. A finger flick takes the user through the menu and the buttons are large enough to easily move from page to page.

Below, compare the attractive home page of a winery with the tiny, unreadable version on an iphone.

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This is an attractive, up-to-date site and the computer/laptop version has a clean, easy to follow horizontal navigation bar below the header images. But that navigation disappears on the phone version. Yes, the phone user can pinch the image out larger to see a portion of the page. But if you have tried it, you know how difficult it can be to use the navigation on a winery site that has not been designed for a phone.

Some of my Favorite Oregon Wineries

I follow Remy Drabkin’s marketing and she does a great job with her email marketing and her website is a dream to use. But sorry, Remy, your site is pretty hard to use on a phone:

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King Estate’s elaborate fact-filled site, full of useful information and (vital!) the hours and menu for their famous restaurant, is mostly black dots to my eyes.

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I admire Sohol Blosser so much and use their marketing as an example of best practices in my wine sales presentations. However, information about visiting Sokol Blosser’s gorgeous new tasting room and world class website disappears on a phone:

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Now that I’ve pissed off a few of the best wineries in Oregon, let’s talk solutions.

What to do? If you have a beautiful up-to-date website that was not designed to look good on a smartphone, your solution could be complicated. Your web guru might have to write a new version, or if you are a winery with deep pockets, a custom winery app for iphone and android phones would be just wonderful. Fulgoni announced last week that “a full 80% of the time consumers spend visiting a retail site on mobile is through an app…” and the businesses with apps dominate sales.

Ironpaper developed an app for TotalWine, but it’s designed for a store with thousands of skus.  Vin65 has a tasting room app for the ipad and a mobile point of sale app that looks OK on a phone and great on an ipad. Or type “custom apps” into google and the list of sources goes on and on. Prices are substantial, so an app might be more than you want to spend.

I have to say, so far the easiest and best looking smartphone websites I’ve seen are generated automatically from WordPress sites. If your site is based on a WordPress backbone, you may be able to create a smartphone version of your site with minimal fuss.

WordPress for the World – Open Source Rocks

This is a bit of an aside from the main focus of this article. But I think I have to address the issue of website and update cost.

Did you pay a fortune for your website and discover that it was really hard to update and add to? Do you have to pay someone to change even small things? You are not alone. Over the last ten years, the software available to web designers encouraged them to build websites using their own code or content management systems that aren’t easy for non-techies to understand.

And then there was WordPress. It started as funky, free open source software for boring or amateur looking blogs. But in the last two years, it has evolved into a sophisticated tool for building all kinds of websites. And what I love most, you can add content and make changes yourself.

WordPress sites are easy to update without a website guru making every change to a vintage or product description. You need a guru to set it up, but the setup is relatively inexpensive and quick. After setup, adding content via the blog interface and changing the products, adding events, etc is largely a do it yourself job.

The simplest, most economical way to create a smartphone version of your site is to use WordPress and a a template that is based on “responsive design”. Here’s the theme I use, called “Avada” from Theme Fusion:

Website responsive design

 This is just one of many “responsive design” themes available for WordPress.The themes can cost as little as $50, but unless you are willing to take on a steep learning curve, better use of your time might be making wine to pay a guru to apply your template and setup the site. The cost is usually a fraction of what conventional sites cost.

I’m quite happy with the phone version of my draft website (I just put it online in January). It’s hard to see in the screen shot below but my menu is a large pulldown list of links in the middle of the page. And it has the phone number and email address at the top. The phone number is a clickthrough and goes directly to the phone.

  OWM-iphone-screenshot-1

 Not that my website is anything fancy, but it demonstrates how a very reasonably priced site can look great on a phone as well as on the web.

Another very reasonably priced site that looks great on a phone is Sweet Earth Vineyards’. Clean and easy to navigate. Less is more.

 

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It Is Doable!

My point is, it doesn’t have to cost a lot or be super complicated to launch a good mobile version of your winery website. And with a majority of shoppers now using their phones to shop, and with all those tourists driving around wine country wanting to know what you have going for Memorial Day and whether you sell food or have a tour etc, you are losing sales if you put off a mobile site.

It sucks to have to do even more marketing stuff when you’d rather be in the vineyard, but that bill for corks is sitting on your desk, and mobile just might be the way you get the money to pay it.

PS – My sales pitch – I’d love to help you coordinate and write it!

Cheers!

Jean
jean@oregon-wine.com
541-602-1720