There’s something to be said about having your products fly off the shelves on a regular basis, as well as harnessing the incredible power of your customers. Subscription-based sales are huge assets to any business, though they do require a thoughtful approach to ensure that it rewards both the business and its valued customers.
Rachel Lightfoot of Lightfoot & Wolfville spoke to us at our recent Shopify Meetup in Wolfville, NS about how their family-run vineyard launched a successful subscription-based wine club almost exactly one year ago. With it, they have added a predictable income stream to their largely seasonal business, strengthened their relationships with their customers, and gained valuable insight into what their returning customers want from their winery experience.
“Your customers are your most valuable resource”
Do your research
“Your customers are your most valuable resource,” says Rachel. She began by talking to the returning customers in their tasting room to gauge interest, then followed up with in-depth engagement and consultation about what they would want in a wine club. She then carried out further months of research on other wine clubs’ offerings and pricings. With this information gathered, she came to Able Sense to help source technology that could facilitate and automate their quarterly processing, securely.
Design with your customers in mind
Rachel believes that their success has been dependent on “staying true to [their] brand.”
By engaging with customers in their tasting room, she could use their input to inform the design of the wine club’s offerings. One year after its launch, Rachel and her team offer two options for the Lightfoot & Wolfville wine club: one tailored to those who live farther away (Breezes), who receive a quarterly shipment of three specially-selected bottles and discounts on other products; and one for local customers (Tides), that includes quarterly wine shipments and discounts but also access to special events and tastings at the winery. By knowing their customers well, she was able to curate two distinct -- yet special -- packages that meet the needs of the different groups.
She emphasizes the importance of looking ahead, ensuring that, as they scale their wine club, they are able to maintain the quality and service their customers expect from Lightfoot & Wolfville. To that end, she has put a firm limit on the number of memberships available, and set a balance between delivering premium products and giving access to member-only events, validating their club members’ feelings of belonging and exclusivity.
“Stay true to your brand”
Choose the right technology
Our developers seamlessly integrated the Bold Subscriptions app into Lightfoot & Wolfville’s gorgeous Shopify platform. This app has a proven track record in being easy to use, adapt and manage for both customers and merchants (and it works beautifully with our Exportify app to help manage their orders). We configured Rachel’s wine club for secure and easy user self-management. Members update their subscriptions, billing and shipping information, and the app automates the rest, not charging them until their quarterly wine club shipment is ready to go.
Track your success for more success
Ongoing tracking has shown that 90% of their wine club members sign up onsite in the tasting room, via in-store signage and staff promotion, which has informed their marketing efforts. They also track when and how their members use their membership discounts and benefits, such as attendance at members-only events and complimentary tastings.
“We have added a predictable income stream, strengthened relationships and gained valuable insight into what our customers want from their winery experience”
Rachel believes that all the hard work to create their wine club was worth it. The wine club members are their biggest fans, and have become brand ambassadors, of a sort. Each event and tasting is a further opportunity to gather feedback and improve their business. As well, in a seasonal business where visits to the winery tend to wane a bit offseason, a predictable injection of income makes a real difference.
After just one year, the Lightfoot & Wolfville wine club can be considered a success.
(Learn more about how we developed Lightfoot & Wolfville’s award-winning site in our case study.)
Able Sense: We’re Shopify experts for wineries. Book a guided tour today.