Why Have We Doubled Down on Allocation? It’s Our Clients’ Most Valuable Sales Method
Unlike other ecommerce platforms, we’re financially motivated to create comprehensive tools for allocated offerings.
In the world of allocated wine offerings it’s easy to focus on the lowest common denominator of the customer experience: a customer gets assigned to a group, that group gets access to a curated selection of wines at specific quantities for a limited period of time.
To stop there merely scratches the surface of what is needed to deliver a great allocation experience, yet that is what is typical for even most wine-specific commerce platforms. There’s a simple reason for this.
Total Wine Allocation Sales
In the overall ecommerce universe, allocation is a sales method so rare, to call it an edge case would be generous
It’s no wonder generalized platforms don’t invest in the development of a feature set for it. In wine, allocation manages to achieve statistical significance: 5% of DTC sales in 2022 (per SVB)! That number (vs the 39% for Wine Club and 37% for Tasting Room), should give some clear insight into the feature development priorities of the larger wine-focused commerce platforms. For those companies to allocate precious planning, engineering and support resources for what amounts to a tiny percentage of their broad client base’s revenue is quite frankly more about being gracious than it is about being pragmatic.
Many of our tools that were originally developed to solve the common pain points around allocations can be used for any sales method to provide great customer service more efficiently and effectively.
For us, it’s a different story – allocation makes up over 60% of our clients’ total DTC revenue
That number jumps to over 78% when looking exclusively at wineries (and yes, retailers can and do leverage allocations too). As we wrote about in our recent post on being a proudly independent company, it is our responsibility to our clients, and in turn our company, to have a comprehensive feature set that handles the essential nuances of the allocation process from set-up to purchase, into the murky waters of the post-order/pre-shipment limbo land (order modifications and address changes, we see you), and all the way to fulfillment.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty here, let’s zoom out for a minute. Yes, the mechanics of the allocated model matter, but what’s more important is how it is indicative of the type of relationship a winery or merchant has with their customers. Customers aren’t reduced to their transactions, they are relationships that must be nurtured. Many of our tools that were originally developed to solve the common pain points around allocations can be used for any sales method to provide great customer service more efficiently and effectively.
Explore Our Interactive Allocation Setup Demo
Running a smooth allocation doesn’t stop once an order is placed
Easy and elegant as that set-up and purchase flow may be, where the rubber really meets the road is in what happens after an order is placed. Many platforms restrict post-order changes to refunds, a limitation rooted in a drop-ship, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) model. Yet for many wineries and merchants there is some span of time between when an order is placed and when it ships. We’ve built our platform with this reality front-of-mind, it is foundational to our entire order architecture.
In Offset, orders can be comprised of multiple transactions and are thus modifiable until they are shipped. This allows easy accommodation of the common requests customers have in that time between placing their order and it getting shipped. To have to completely cancel and re-place an order if a customer wants to add on, change the delivery address or expedite shipping is an operational pain and customer service obstacle. Not to mention the fun if the new charge gets declined.
Particularly for lean teams dedicated to a high level of customer service, these are the tools that radically change their work stress and workload. Time and time again we hear “oh my god, that’s going to make my life so much easier” during demos and training. It does. And this – making our clients’ lives (or at least work) easier, and their customers’ experience better – is at the core of how we’ve built and continue to evolve the Offset Commerce platform.