E-commerce as it should be: Lessons from a wine store 🍷

Are you giving your users a worse experience than if they went to a physical store?

Consider the following scenario:  You enter a wine store. You’ve got the perfect pinot noir in mind to compliment the elaborate dinner you’ve planned. You ask the salesperson for the wine in question, but you’re met with the disheartening news that they don’t have it.


Something else will be recommended…right?

One thing is certain: In a physical store, the salesperson won’t simply stare at you and the walls until you choose to leave the awkward situation – and them letting you.

A good salesperson will most likely have an extensive understanding of their wines and what’s in stock, accurately showing you alternatives to the wine you’re looking for. They’ll listen carefully and provide you with excellent alternatives to your pinot noir of choice.

You’ll leave the store feeling seen and heard, maybe even with a bottle of wine that’s better than the one you were originally looking for.

Looking back at this enjoyable experience, you’ll be likely to return to that store, won’t you?

Are your users receiving the level of attention they deserve?

Unlike the attentive salesperson, far too many e-commerce businesses fall short of providing truly personalized recommendations, if any at all.

In a physical store, you would never be given a generic recommendation, like any random red wine at hand, or be left with no suggested alternatives. So why is there still such a difference between offline and online experiences? Many e-commerce businesses are missing out on upselling opportunities, hindering their chances of reaching business goals faster.

Why are there still so many e-commerce businesses that fail to connect deeper with their users, leaving them stranded among unviable options?

We’ve seen it time and again: Well-known companies in the industry with poor search and recommendation features, completely failing to provide viable product choices to their users and enhancing their online navigation experience.

Consider the following example as you are shopping online for wine:

Tequila! (1)-1

There could be several reasons why the wine store doesn’t have the wine you’re looking for in stock, and that’s entirely understandable. But as we’ve observed with many of our clients, product catalogues are typically very large. Chances are that finding something relevant will be quite easy.

The heart of the issue is this: the information you have on the behavior of your users must be actively used to create a more personalized experience for each visitor as they’re browsing your online universe.

Use what you’ve already got to better understand your users

Each and every item in the basket, click, search, and other actions must actively contribute to a personalized recommendation. You risk providing an experience that falls short of the expectations of your user if you simply recommend, say, your most-sold item, irrespective of what it is.

Users today expect more, and they’re extremely quick to bounce from your site if the experience isn’t resonating with their personal preferences.

79% of consumers say the search function of retail websites sometimes provide irrelevant items.

Source: Google 2023 Search Abandonment Findings


The more personalized your experience is, the higher your engagement will be. When you consistently deliver products that meet the expectations of your users, they will find you more relevant, increasing the likelihood that they will return to you to meet their needs.

Work to have a high level of relevancy from the start, starting at the very moment your users type the first few letters into your search bar.

Back to the important stuff: your wine

So, at the end of the day, how will this manifest for you as an avid online shopper for good wine?

As you browse the wine store, your behavior is collected and analyzed. This means that the more you browse, the more you’ll see recommendations aligning with your preferences and intentions in real time.

For example, it will show you pinot noirs with similar taste profiles from the same country. Or, if the shop sells food and snacks, accompaniments that match well with the type of grape you’re interested in, giving you a truly personalized experience.

This approach will be much more similar to the experience of visiting a physical wine store—like you’re being personally catered to by an attentive salesperson.

Most likely, it’ll make you want to stick around just a little while longer and browse some more. All in all, behavior that increases the likelihood of conversion.

With this knowledge, let’s revisit the example from the beginning of this post:


Final thoughts

The consistency of relevant recommendations is a necessity that businesses with e-commerce platforms or large online universes can no longer live without. It’s critical to provide consistently relevant recommendations so that your brand continuously builds trust.

In an ever-evolving online landscape, giving the kind of attention and care to your users that they would receive in a physical store is key to staying competitive.

Here’s to a deeper connection with your users! 🍷