Mobile Technology for Winemakers

This post is part of a series of posts about le Vin 2.0 2011 where I presented on the topic of mobile technology opportunities for winemakers.  Here’s a video of the presentation (in French) and a summary in English.

Link to powerpoint slides

Don’t make an app

When a company decides to develop a mobile strategy, their first instinct is often to make a smartphone application.  But applications are actually one of the heaviest investments you can make with some of the most limited returns.  Apps seem really cool and they seem like the most *mobile* thing you can do because that’s what you always hear about on the news, but you can make an application and then wake up the morning after next to that 10,000€ app and realize you don’t really have the same ambitions in life.  This metaphor got weird.

All I’m trying to say is that most winemakers shouldn’t even think about making an application.

Here are several reasons why:

Application development is expensive.  The lowest dev cost I’ve ever seen for even a simple application that was basically just a PDF that you could flip through was 6,000€.

Application development is restricted to specific platforms. If you make an iPhone app, it only works on iPhones.  And then you need a different app for Android phones.  And you need to constantly maintain the app as the technology changes.  I use a Samsung Wave which has the Bada platform and basically nobody makes apps for me.  I feel left out and end up resenting everybody who is ignoring my phone platform.

The most successful applications are Universal in scope, and most winemakers don’t have the resources to maintain this kind of app.  Almost nobody wants an O’Vineyards app that just tells them about O’Vineyards.  They will open that once and then forget it’s on their phone.  On the other hand, a Love That Languedoc app that tells them about all the Languedoc wines .. that’s a little more interesting, but still not ideal.  Then if you think of a Guide Hachette app that has all French wines.  That’s getting interesting.  Or something like Wine Demon that does all wines available in the UK.  Now you’re providing something useful for your app user and they will come back to it repeatedly and regularly.  But most winemakers don’t have the resources (or motivation) to do that kind of big picture app.

Instead, optimize your website

It makes more sense to make a mobile friendly website.  A good web site can be optimized for all mobile phone users.  It can be done pretty inexpensively.  I have some minor technical skills so I made a separate CSS for this website (heavily based on iPhonsta, a free wordpress theme).  But even if you know nothing about computers, you can hire somebody to make a mobile version of your site for less than 1000€.  The mobile site will also be a good testing ground where you can learn about your mobile users’ habits by watching your site analytics.

In the near future, I imagine mobile commerce will become a realistic option for wineries (Although we’ll face the same issue of universal scope… most consumers would rather be regular shoppers at amazon.com than shop at 28 separate publisher websites).  You can also imagine microlocation once HTML 5 kicks in.  Today, my website detects you’re using a cell phone and I show you my mobile site.  In the near future, I will see you’re using a cell phone and you’re within 20 kilometers of the vineyard so I’ll prominently display a map with directions on arriving at my vineyard.  Or I’ll see you’re on my vineyard and I’ll show you information about the parcel where you’re standing.  Or I’ll see you’re in the UK and I’ll prominently display links to Naked Wines where you can buy my wine online and have it delivered to your home.

The counterargument: Apps are awesome

Several people at Vin 2.0 pointed out that they have very successful applications.  Notably, le Guide Hachette, mentioned above, Intermarché, and idealwine.  While I make apps sound pretty terrible, they pointed out that the app store is a very well-viewed platform.  With the right kind of app and the right kind of PR/marketing, you can get your app featured in one of the app stores’ Top Lists.  And that’s a lot of exposure.  Again, I think this is an unrealistic endeavor for most winemakers.  It’s more appropriate for a universally-scoped guidebook or retailer (with a bit more budget than O’Vineyards).  But I do appreciate that there is this great opportunity to be seen by lots of eyeballs if you play the app game right so I should mention the argument here.

Piggybacking instead of developing your own app

Personally, I’d rather piggyback on already existing applications.  Take Wine Demon for instance.  It’s a customer review database for all wines available in the UK.  Anybody can leave a review and it should be like a tripadvisor for wine that also shows availability.    That’s a great tool that can drive my UK sales if I get good reviews.  Instead of developing my own application to do this (which will cost tons of time and money), I can just spend a tiny bit of time optimizing my presence on Wine Demon.  Encourage people who like my wines to use the app and it will effectively bring my average scores up.  I can make sure there are nice photos of my bottles on the site and all the information is correct and up to date.  This takes little time and I’ll probably reap more from this small expenditure than if I launched my own application that does basically the same thing.

Same with tripadvisor strategy.  Tripadvisor has become really important for hotels, lodging and tourism.  Now how do I react to that?  I don’t try to launch a competing website.  I just try to optimize my presence on the already existing site. 🙂

 

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

O’Vineyards
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.
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