The heat of the summer is starting to settle in and you need to begin make adjustments to your wine shipping practices.
Ship via temperature-controlled truck across the country, if available. Yes, we all know this can take longer to get to the customer but in the long run, it is better for the wine to arrive in good condition. Be upfront with your customers about the delivery expectations – and offer an upgrade to two- or three-day air for a minimal price if they really need it sooner rather than later.
Re-evaluate your packaging for the short term. We know styrofoam is bad for the environment but it is also much more of an insulator than cardboard. If you have to ship during the summer, you may want to consider switching your packaging for a few months. In addition, most fulfillment companies will provide ice as part of their packaging options for the summer. If you are packing onsite, you can get a supply of ice packs to use to the hottest states.
Protect the wine at all costs. Adding ice to a shipment will incur additional costs, whether your fulfillment company does it or you do it in-house. You need to determine whether you pass this cost along to the customer or if you absorb it for the short-term as part of your customer service. As we all know, customers resist excessive shipping charges, so if you are financially able to absorb the cost, it will go a long way in creating customer loyalty. Please note: sometimes the ice can burst and cause it’s own damage, so be mindful of the quality of product used.
Don’t ship until the fall. While this is not the best option for cash flow, it is the best option to protect wine. Many wineries do not have summer club shipments or releases precisely for this reason, so if you have that flexibility, just know that the cool fall weather will treat your wine better than the summer heat.
Provide excellent customer service. Despite all precautions, sometimes heat damage will happen this time of year. Be courteous to your customers when they contact you and don’t be afraid to ask for supporting evidence of damage (leaking wine, damage to bottles or labels). Treat it as an opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty as you generously handle shipping problems.
Just because it is summer doesn’t mean that you can’t sell wine – be thoughtful and predictive about your summer shipping policies and be sure to communicate effectively with your customers to set expectations.