Using digital to fast track the wine industry recovery

South Africa is regularly in the top ten wine-producing countries in terms of volume. More importantly, however, is the growing global recognition of the quality of our top-notch wines, which are not only attracting attention from wine drinkers, but are gaining ground with high-end international collectors.

As the industry claws its way back from the beating it took in the Covid lockdowns, DPO South Africa takes a look at how the industry can lean on digital channels to accelerate its recovery and even help future-proof against further shocks. 

The South African government’s hardline decision to ban the sale and transport of alcohol during the various lockdowns saw wine sales take a hammering. A survey by industry group Vinpro highlighted the need for new ways to market and sell our wines with respondents indicating that “…their businesses would have to make drastic changes over the next year to be able to overcome the challenges related to Covid-19.”

Opening new, direct-to-consumer channels may hold the answer. The benefits are immense, almost immediate, and even the smallest operations can imagine and deliver on these valuable new sales channels if designed and deployed cleverly.

More channels, more sales, more resiliency

South Africans love their wines. The Vinpro survey showed that around two-thirds of our finished product is sold to locals and many estates rely on the traditional retail channel to sell their wares to the local market. But the last 18 months have shown that diversifying sales to include on-site sales as well as online channels is not only essential but also delivers a number of benefits. These include:

Brand building – selling direct gives you the opportunity to engage more closely with end consumers. Your tasting sessions give a deeply personal experience which helps forge long-term relationships and loyalty. Your website, meanwhile, gives you a blank canvas to create a digital brand that reflects your core values and showcases your team and product.

Break through the clutter – going direct allows you to break through the clutter of the shelf. Your wines are the star of the show and not just another label fighting for the attention of the hurried shopper.

Digital can be easily supported – digital marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your brand. While a fair number of local estates are already online, a good digital marketing strategy can catapult even the smallest outfit to the top of a search or into a mailbox.

A much bigger market – more than anything else, an expanded sales channel means access to more customers. This includes South Africans who may not have otherwise known about you,

but also a growing international market. Last year, the South African super-premium wine segment showed a very healthy export growth of 37% in volume while the premium segment, comprising wines in the over R40 per litre price point, also continued to grow, taking revenue from both new world wine countries like Chile as well as the traditional French wine market.

Payment as part of your channel strategy

One thing to bear in mind when setting up your direct strategy, is that the payment process is one of the final and lasting interactions between you and your customer. It’s imperative to ensure you get this part of the customer journey right.

DPO South Africa has six tips for you to consider at the farm and online:

  1. Choice is key – Respecting that different people have preferred methods of payment is key in a good channel strategy. Make sure you support a wide selection of payment methods; it makes good marketing and business sense.
  2. Prioritise card – When taking payments, DPO South Africa recommends that wine farms offer credit card payments as a first option. Remember, credit cards offer people a budgeting option, allowing them to pay off their purchases over an extended period and could be used to influence the amount they buy.
  3. Stay mobile – We always have our phones – Make sure you cater for the growing trend of digital payments. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Samsung pay are taking off. QR code payments like Zapper are also firm favourites with South African shoppers and some come with added loyalty programs which you can add to your digital marketing arsenal.
  4. Swipe virtually or e-bill – Other digital payment offerings to be aware of include virtual point of sale machines. You could also send your customer a link in an email or invoice or via an electronic bill. By simply clicking on the link, customers can complete a payment via a secure payments page.
  5. Offer alternatives – Some customers don’t have credit cards. Make sure you offer an instant EFT option such as SiD Secure EFT, which allows them to make a payment straight from their bank accounts. It works exactly like an old-school bank transfer, but it’s immediate.
  6. Cater to the world – Make sure you can receive payments from anywhere in the world. Currency converters such as PayFX display prices in multiple currencies and, when the customer pays, the currency conversion is done upfront, but the payment will reach your account in rands. What’s more, there’s no holding period and international payments will reach your account in the same amount of time as local ones.

Finding the right payments partner

More than just making sure you can receive money from anyone, anywhere, choosing the right payment partner comes with many additional benefits.

DPO South Africa has some of the most sophisticated digital security available. More than just ensuring your payments are processed securely, we offer world-class fraud detection, giving you the peace of mind to get on with growing your business.

Our payment offerings include a wide array of back-office support, including easy to use reconciliation and account management.

We also offer developers extensive support ensuring your digital team can quickly and easily integrate our payment solution into your website. Our support team is always available to deal with any queries or technical issues, ensuring you can take payments around the clock, from any country.

A toast to the future

The wine industry contributes around R40 billion to our GDP each year. More than this, it supports hundreds of thousands of families and is a glowing tribute to our innovation and dedication to quality. DPO South Africa is committed to working with our vintners to grow their businesses and ensuring our fabulous wines gain the global recognition they deserve.

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