By Liz Thach, MW, WWS Communications Committee
On Thursday, May 26, 2011, nine members of the WWS Wine Technology Roundtable carpooled to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California to learn about new tools and methods to sell wine online, as well as new technologies to run a small wine business more efficiently.
The day began with a tour by hosts Joe Rosenberg and Danny Navarro. The first items that caught our eye as we entered the Google campus were the many rainbow colored bikes that employees were encouraged to ride to connect to multiple office buildings. Brightly colored umbrellas, tables and lounging chairs, outdoor gardens with herbs and vegetables, sculptures, and fountains could be found throughout the complex, as well as an employee swimming pool, volleyball court, nap pods and the famous Google slide. The site is home to 8,000 of Google’s 25,000 global employees.
After the tour, we had lunch at Charlie’s, the largest of many Google restaurants. A cafeteria style establishment, it offered choices of Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, and many other delicious foods. Probably the most amazing aspect is that all of Google’s restaurants are completely free to employees and guests, and they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including some meals on weekends.
After lunch, we were treated to a 2-hour presentation on some of the methods Google has available to increase wine sales (see list below), as well as an introduction to Google Apps Premier Edition. This is based on cloud technology and is an inexpensive method ($50 per year per employee) for small businesses, such as wineries, to place all of their working documents on a secure Internet server which can be accessed from any device, including mobile phones. It includes customized website, email, calendar, document storage, and the opportunity to work collaboratively on any document (e.g. MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or other platforms) from any location in the world.
Methods to Increase Online Wine Sales
Joe, Danny and colleagues also offered the following methods and tools to either enhance or increase sales:
1) Set Up Proudct Search – identify someone on your marketing staff to place every SKU on Google Product Search (a free service). This includes taking a photo of your wine bottle/label, using unique product identifiers, such as SKU, and updating often according to inventory depletions.
2) Invest in Google Ads – provide a monthly budget for online advertising and appoint a marketing rep to monitor ads. This allows your wines to be placed in the top or side bars of search pages, but you only pay for advertising if someone clicks on the link. You can easily track ROI, and for as little as $100 per month can drive much traffic to your website.
3) Target Cell Phone Users – invest in Mobile on the Go, new mobile apps, and other methods to target cell phone users who are geographically near your winery. Adopt QR codes and other methods to allow consumers to review and purchase wine via cell phone.
4) Get on YouTube – film a short and interesting video about your wine, winery, vineyard, or a brand related event and place on Youtube. This doesn’t have to cost much or be professionally filmed. Wineries with larger marketing budgets should consider purchasing their own Youtube channel as many spirits companies are, e.g. Gray Goose, Captain Morgan
5) *Connect the Social Media Dots – have an authentic social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to drive traffic to your website, but more importantly adopt the new Google +1 Button when it becomes available (http://www.google.com/+1/button/). This will allow consumers to give their stamp of approval to your wines and website, and will show up on search engines so your friends/family will know the wines you recommend.
6) Adopt Google Wallet – set up your winery retail room to accept the new Google Wallet technology which allows consumers to load their credit cards onto their cell phone.
Before departing the Google campus, we took a group photo (see below) and made a quick visit to the Google store to purchase souvenirs for family and friends. Definitely a fun field trip, and a great way for the WWS Wine Technology Roundtable to gather for its second meeting.