WINE SALES & CLUBS

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Payment Processing for Wine Sales and Clubs

Wine sales and clubs have increased in popularity as online sales continue to grow. DigiPay Solutions has created a Wine Sales and Clubs report with additional important information about setting up a merchant account, controlling chargebacks, managing risk, and keeping merchant accounts in good standing.

DigiPay Solutions has created a “A Wine Sales & Clubs Primer” with important information about setting up a merchant account, controlling chargebacks, managing risk and keeping merchant accounts in good standing.

Who is DigiPay Solutions?

DigiPay Solutions is a recognized payment processing brand among leading wine sales and clubs. The company’s extensive network of partner banks, payment experts, and elite portfolio of tailored solutions has helped launch entrepreneurial start-ups and take enterprise organizations to the next level of corporate growth.

Thousands of merchants, from start-ups to enterprise-scale organizations, leverage DigiPay’s curated knowledge of high-risk payments to securely process millions of transactions across an array of vertical industries. DigiPay works closely with wine sale and club partners, providing tailored solutions and timely advice to national and regional service providers, while helping them maintain the highest standards of banking and payment card industry compliance.

DigiPay’s team of experts, combined with our partners’ proven record of successful wine sales and clubs, can facilitate successful new company launches and help existing businesses grow and scale.

Wine Sales and Clubs Processing Primer

A Brief Guide to Wine Sales and Clubs

Wine Sales and Clubs: An Economic Overview

According to Wine & Vines, the wine clubs and sales service industry is a $219.9 billion-dollar industry worldwide. California wines alone are a $71.2 billion-dollar industry. The industry’s rapid growth has been changing the way that wine is being sold, with online transactions increasing in popularity.

From baby boomers to millennials, many people enjoy a nice glass of wine. An emerging trend within the wine industry is the fact that online wine sales are beginning to increase in popularity over wines being sold in person at specialty stores and markets. About 65% of people purchase wine for the home that costs $10 or more for their homes. This is great news for professionals in the wine industry who are looking to sell higher-quality, more expensive wines to their consumers.

SIC, NAICS & MCC Codes

The wine sales and club industry providers are categorized by SIC Codes, NAICS Codes and Visa Merchant Category Codes (MCC) to comply with payment card industry requirements.

Proper classification is vitally important to prevent funds from being held in reserve for misrepresentation. The wine sales and club industry has a specific SIC code which is grouped under “Beer, Wine, and Liquor stores” in NAICS or MCC codes, and can be classified according to the nature and focus of services. The following are some examples:

SIC Code 5921: Liquor Stores

SIC Code 2084: Wineries

NAICS Code 445310: Beer, Wine, and Liquor Stores

MCC Code 5921: Package Stores, Beer, Wine, Liquor

Additional information on Visa MCC can be found in this downloadable guide.

Leaders and Rising Stars

Top performing companies in the wine sales and clubs’ industry are seeing more success by offering customers an online membership that allows them the ability to purchase wines and have them shipped to their home. With the internet, people are now able to comfortably buy wine from the convenience of their own homes.

Here are a few leading companies in the space:

  1. Gold Medal Wine Club:

    Created over 25 years ago, Gold Medal had one vision in mind: to provide high quality wines at a low cost. Through Gold Medal Wine Club, people can find exquisite wines at affordable prices created by family or individually owned vineyards. Many of the wines that they sell are novelty which means they’re too rare for marketplace sales, making it a truly wonderful way to discover new, unique wines all while supporting small business owners. Many of their wines are also tasted by a team of experts to ensure that they are worthy of being sent off to their members.

  2. International Wine of the Month Club:

    Since 1994, the International Wine of the Month Club has been selling rare and extraordinary wines from all over the world. The company is dedicated to finding high-quality wines through expert selection. While selecting fine wines may prove to be a challenge for some, the International Wine of the Month Club can help any newcomer look like a pro with their expert wine selections. Membership includes two different bottles of international wines sent out every month. Members can select a combination of two reds, two whites, or one of each. In addition, customers can look forward to “cellar notes” included with each shipment with details about each wine, the origin and history of the vineyard, and food pairing suggestions.

  3. The Wine Connection:

    If you’re searching for high quality wine from California, look no further than The Wine Connection. Established in 1996, The Wine Connection is a family-run business that places an emphasis on pleasing their customers. The Wine Connection boasts a wide and worldly selection of wines ranging from North America to South Africa. Not only that, but they also contain the largest selection of wine accessories in San Diego. What more could a wine lover ask for?

  4. The Original Wine of the Month Club:

    The Original Wine of the Month Club is just that: the very first company to establish a mail-order system of wines. They are the only wine club that is federally registered. The owner of the club, Paul Kalemkiarian, makes sure to only choose wines that he himself would want in his cellar. The Original Wine of the Month Club also places a great deal on customer service, as Paul himself is personally available to discuss any cellar and wine recommendations that he may have for members of the wine club. All of the wines are hand-selected by Paul himself who samples over 400 wines every month.

  5. Winestyr:

    Created in 2011, Winestry is already beginning to leave their mark on the world of wine. Bob Wilson, the CEO and founder of Winestry, was sick and tired of mass-produced wines saturating the shelves. He took it upon himself to create a company that places an emphasis on small wine producers. With a curated collection of wines from over 7,000 wineries in the United States, Winestyr is sure to help you find a wine that you’ll love.

  6. Blue Apron Wine:

    While many of us are familiar with Blue Apron’s meal kit service, a lot of people do not know about their wine services. Their wines are also specially chosen to complement Blue Apron recipes. However, it is not necessary to sign up for their meal kits if you just want the wine itself. One of the appealing parts of Blue Apron’s Wine membership is the fact that they offer smaller bottles (about 2/3rds the size of a standard wine bottle) which contain enough wine for two people to enjoy. Because the bottles are smaller than average, this allows you to sample several different types of wine to find your absolute favorite of all. Blue Apron also works directly with winemakers to ensure that they can find the best price possible for their members. Grab that special someone and a bottle of wine provided by Blue Apron to create a wonderful date night experience that your partner won’t soon forget!

  7. Fat Cork Wine Club:

    This is the go to wine club for any champagne lovers out there. Every bottle of champagne is hand-selected by the founders Bryan and Abby Maletis. This club delivers specialty champagnes from small growers. Many of these growers even provide the fruit needed themselves in order to make their delectable champagnes. They also provide several accessories for your champagne including glassware, bags for chilling, stoppers, and even a champagne thermos so you can bring your favorite wines on the go. No matter if you prefer rosé or brut, Fat Cork has it all.

  8. Your Name Here:

    With your great brand story and DigiPay Solutions as your processing partner, there’s no limit to how far you can scale your company. DigiPay’s diverse, extended family of wine club and sales services process anywhere from $20,000 to millions in monthly revenue.

Interested in learning more about Publicly Traded Wine Clubs and Sales Companies listed on Major U.S. Exchanges?

Try DigiPay Now ↗

Wine Sales and Clubs Services

Online wine sales and clubs provide a way for people to obtain diverse wines that they may not find in a traditional market. The wine industry is a growing business in America. According to Statista, the average wine consumption in the United States during 2016 was 2.94 gallons per person, an increase from 2.34 gallons in 2005. Every year, U.S. citizens spend about $110 dollars on wine per year compared to $36 dollars at full-service restaurants.

The following are examples of how wine club subscriptions are being sold:

  • • Wine club websites: Wine club websites are increasing in number every year. More people are seeing the benefits of selling their wines and subscriptions to their wine clubs online. Many wine clubs are also now offering a way to buy their wines directly from their website without a subscription fee needed. Certain companies are now also offering private consultations to their members to provide them with recommendations or consultations when it comes to their own wine cellars. The ultimate goal of wine clubs and sales is to provide the customer with the ability to enjoy a high-quality bottle of wine at an affordable price. Whether someone can’t tell the difference between a red and a rose or they’re a wine expert with hundreds of bottles in their cellars, many people enjoy subscribing to wine clubs to learn more.

Opportunities and Challenges

Millennials are buying a ton of wine. So much so, that they are changing the way it’s being sold. A recent study by the Wine Market Council has stated that millennials drank 42% of wine in the United States in 2015. Overall, women drank 57% of all wine in the United States during that same time frame. As wine continues to grow in popularity, so do the sales of wine clubs and wine itself. People who are interested in creating their own wine clubs or sales company will find a market that is ripe for the taking.

According to the Wine Institute, wine sales and clubs in 2016 saw an increase in the following fields:

  • • Retail value of California wine shipments in North America: $34.1 billion (up by 4.6%)
  • • Cases shipped: 238 million cases (up 2% from the past year)
  • • Consumer expenditures growth: 6.1% (up from 5.5% in previous years)

From baby boomers to millennials, wine is being consumed more now than ever. Many people look for personal recommendations from owners themselves or wines that are catered to their preferences based on wines they rated previously that were sent by the company. By offering these services to members, your business is more likely to attract more customers to you and beat the competition.

The challenges that may arise within the world of wine clubs and sales is a high amount of competition. Many of these wine clubs have been in business for decades, so creating a new wine club may be difficult. One key differentiation is providing excellent customer service.

According to eCellar, visitor to wine club signups average from 1-5% (about one to five people out of one hundred). Furthermore, many customers may be tempted by competing wine clubs. The average membership time of a wine club member is around 18-36 months. The biggest challenge that many wine clubs face is how to retain customers.

Lack of infrastructure can be another challenge for online wine sales and clubs in the early stages of setting up their businesses. Without the appropriate levels of customer service support to deal with consumer complaints the business may struggle. Consumers who are unable to communicate their concerns to merchants are more likely to call their payment card issuer and file a chargeback. While it may not seem very important to have an identification and verification check on your website, the fact is that it can prevent you from a lawsuit and protect against chargebacks. If a minor buys alcohol off of your website, then you will be held liable for the sale. With Aristotle’s Integrity age and identification verification, you can rest easy knowing that your products will be shipped off to those of the minimum legal age and that Integrity will stand behind the accuracy of their service by indemnifying against fines and legal fees.

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Enabling Wine Clubs and Sales Service Commerce

How do I create an eCommerce merchant account?

The first step in enabling commerce is to establish a merchant account. Wine sales and clubs are classified as high-risk, making industry service providers ineligible for merchant accounts at numerous sponsoring banks. DigiPay’s expanded network of banking relationships accepts the wine clubs and sales category and provides competitive rates, terms and conditions.

Wine clubs and sales services find it advantageous to work with processing partners who are familiar with their industry, jargon and common business practices. Payment processing sales representatives who are not familiar with wine sales and clubs service lingo and practices may be less effective at managing relationships due to their learning curves. When wine sales and clubs services work with knowledgeable processing partners, they can save time and money, improve efficiencies and attract and retain more customers and followers.

Why are Wine Clubs and Sales considered High-Risk?

Many banks will not accept wine sales and clubs’ companies due to the industry’s higher-than-average number of chargebacks and the potential liability of selling alcohol to minors. An entrepreneurial start-up company that has created a mobile app or online wine club sales website may not anticipate the risks involved in working with consumers whose sometimes unrealistic expectations about using a wine sale club service. Given that many banks may not understand the online wine industry and that people desire these products, it may be difficult for them to find a bank that understands the process.

Here are some risks commonly associated with online wine sales and club services:

  1. Subscriber Remorse:

    Consumers who opt in to a repayment plan with automatic monthly payments may forget that their credit card will automatically be billed every month. They will then dispute the charge that appears on their credit card statement. Many card issuing banks require consumers to contact the merchant before they process a chargeback request.

  2. Age Verification for Alcohol Sales:

    Many processors will avoid wine sales and wine clubs’ due to reputational risk and concerns about preventing underage access to wine. As the leading merchant services provider in high-risk processing DigiPay Solutions understands the compliance requirements necessary to sell age restricted products and services online. We work with best in class Age & Identity Verification Services who provide the most comprehensive solutions. For example, with Aristotle’s Integrity age and identification verification, you can rest easy knowing that your products will be shipped off to those of the minimum legal age and that Integrity will stand behind the accuracy of their service by indemnifying against fines and legal fees.

    You can read more about age and identity verification on our website.

  3. Lack of Infrastructure:

    Online wine sales and clubs in the early stages of setting up their businesses may not have the appropriate levels of customer service support to deal with consumer complaints and inquiries. Consumers who are unable to communicate their concerns to merchants are at increased risk of turning to payment card issuers for refunds and chargebacks.

Can DigiPay Acquire Wine Clubs and Sales Merchant Accounts?

Yes, at DigiPay, Wine Club and Sales services are in our DNA. Our financial services specialists are familiar with the industry’s unique framework and diversified categories, business models, SIC and NAIC codes and VISA MCC. We underwrite our merchants before sending their applications to our sponsor bank.

Once new merchants establish credibility and trust with DigiPay banking partners, they receive personalized attention and ongoing risk management from DigiPay’s team of payment specialists. This personalized service, coupled with the sheer volume of transactions we process through multiple banks, ensures our merchants receive the highest level of service and support.

Choosing the right payment processing partner is critical, because without the ability to accept payments, merchants are out of business. DigiPay’s merchant onboarding process combines sophisticated technology with human oversight. Experienced underwriters who understand the wine club and sales industry, and have expertise in payment card brand and banking industry compliance, bring a refreshingly holistic approach to new account set-ups.

Whether you’re selling your wines online or through a wine club subscription service, interactive website or mobile app, DigiPay Solutions will give every merchant the attention and resources they deserve and a one-stop shop for processing solutions. The wine sales and club industry is growing and DigiPay can accelerate that growth. The first order of business is eliminating any barriers to progress. Look no further than DigiPay Solutions, where getting a merchant account will open doors to a bright and prosperous future.

Why is so much information required to obtain a Wine Club and Sales Merchant Account?

Because of the higher risk associated with wine sales and clubs, more due diligence is required during the new merchant onboarding process. This means underwriters need to review a range of documents to assure the business is compliant, financially sound, and a good credit risk. DigiPay is unique because we underwrite merchants in-house before we submit their applications to the bank. Because our team of underwriters is experienced in high-risk, your business is presented to the bank with all required documents and full disclosure, to engender trust and stability.

Presenting your business in the best possible light from point of first contact is important because merchant accounts are essentially a line of credit from a processor. Because high-risk merchants have higher chargeback ratios and regulatory exposure, financial institutions are concerned they may violate card brand rules, laws and regulations. Complaints to the FDA and the FTC against a merchant create liability not only for merchants, but can also hold processors accountable under Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations.

DigiPay’s in-house team of underwriters and risk managers have curated knowledge in all areas of high risk. We are best qualified to guide you through the process efficiently and painlessly while helping to present your business to increase approval and gain credibility.

How do I increase my processing limits?

Once a high-risk online wine clubs and sales is approved, payment processors set monthly processing limits, typically between $10,000 and $30,000 per month, for the first three-to-six-months. This gives processors time to develop a customer risk profile by evaluating payment flows, average ticket sizes, processing levels and chargeback ratios.

Wine sales and clubs service companies that maintain a stable, consistent performance throughout their initial trial periods can usually increase their processing limits. DigiPay’s risk management team works with merchants and sponsoring banks to shorten trial periods and raise processing limits.

Managing Alerts, Refunds and Chargebacks

Maintaining a low chargeback ratio is key to maintaining a healthy merchant account. When chargebacks exceed card brand maximums, your merchant account is at risk of being shut down. If a merchant category has consistently excessive chargebacks, banks will sometimes shut down an entire vertical industry. For this reason, it is critical for high risk verticals to self-regulate and work collaboratively to establish industry best practices.

DigiPay Chargeback Champion:

Chargebacks can be an emotionally charged issue for many merchants, but with the right systems in place, managing and defending against them can be a routine part of any merchant’s business. DigiPay Solutions’ team of Chargeback Champions works with business partners to identify the root causes of chargebacks, proactively avoid them whenever possible and effectively address each chargeback and retrieval request.

Why do chargebacks happen?

Chargebacks happen for many reasons and DigiPay’s elite team of Chargeback Champions are expert at analyzing why. Our proactive approach includes:

  • • Preventing alerts and chargebacks through proven best business practices
  • • Advanced fraud technology managed by experienced risk managers
  • • Dynamic identity graphs that link transaction data with human behavior

How can I track my chargeback and refund ratios?

Keeping track of your Transaction Chargeback Ratio as well as your Volume Chargeback Ratio is critical because this is what Visa, Mastercard and payment processors monitor. Payment processors with high chargeback ratios in their merchant portfolios can trigger unannounced audits by Visa or Mastercard. For this reason, DigiPay, powered by TranZlytics, closely monitors chargeback and refund ratios, reacting quickly to spikes in activity. Excessive refunds, frequently the result of alerts, can be a sign of fraud or poor business practices, information the card brands and banks may consider when assessing risk.

The formulas shown below use simple math to derive Transaction Chargeback, Volume Chargeback and Refund Ratios:

  1. Transaction Chargeback Ratio:

    Add total monthly number of chargebacks and divide by total monthly number of transaction. For example – if during a month you processed 500 sales, and there were 10 chargebacks, your chargeback ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  2. Volume Chargeback Ratio:

    Add total monthly dollar amount of all chargebacks and divide by the total monthly sales volume.
    For example – if during a month, you processed 500k in sales, and your chargebacks were 10k, your chargeback ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  3. Transaction Refund Ratio:

    Add total monthly number of refunds and divide by total monthly number of transactions.
    For example – if during a month you processed 500 sales, and there were 10 refunds, your refund ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

  4. Volume Refund Ratio:

    Add total monthly dollar amount of all refunds and divide by the total monthly sales volume.
    For example – if during a month, you processed 500k in sales, and your refunds were 10k, your refund ratio would equal 10/500, or 2.00%.

How do I maintain low chargeback and refund ratios?

It is important not to ignore chargebacks, because win/loss ratios matter. Visa and Mastercard can impose penalties and fines in the tens of thousands on payment processors and their sponsoring banks for continuing to process transactions for merchants that exceed the permissible 2 percent chargeback ratio. Non-compliant processors and banks may also be subjected to further scrutiny and potential shut-down by card brands and regulators.

Here are some recommended ways to maintain low chargeback and refund volume ratios:

  • Stop fraud before it happens:

    Proactively identify fraudulent and stolen cards and suspicious behavior when possible.

  • Be accessible to customers:

    Dissatisfied customers who have access to live support will frequently be satisfied that they had the opportunity to air their grievances. They may be satisfied with a simple return or refund and find it unnecessary or initiate a dispute or chargeback.

  • Maintain a high transaction count:

    Companies with high levels of credit card transactions are in a better position to absorb chargebacks. Low-volume merchants can find themselves in the dubious position of having a high chargeback ratio with just a few chargebacks.

  • Maintain excellent logistics and fulfillment:

    In the always-on, always-connected world, customers expect immediate confirmations and emailed receipts when they place orders online. A good CRM program can automate this process. The DigiPay TranZlytics Gateway is preconfigured to display a merchant’s contact information and customer service number and ensure that collateral, training guides and supplemental materials are locatable by including tracking information with each shipment notification.

  • Use email marketing:

    Follow product orders and shipments with a simple survey or thank you email. This simple gesture will improve brand recognition when customers receive their credit card statements and make it easy for them to contact your company to complain or request a refund.

  • Initiate pre-chargeback and refund alerts:

    Create instant notifications of incoming requests for refunds, chargebacks and assorted customer inquiries. These services can be implemented in-house or outsourced to third-party providers. Merchants have a small window to react to customer disputes before card brands rule in favor of consumers. Automated chargeback and refund alert systems help merchants mitigate risk.

  • Implement a billing support hotline:

    Providing customers with a dedicated, toll-free number and email address will alleviate their concerns and build good will. Online wine clubs and sales service businesses that are responsive to customer inquiries have been shown to increase customer loyalty and decrease chargeback and refund ratios.

  • Create an easy refund process:

    Refunds are a reality of life and a cost of doing business in the wine club and sale industry. By accounting and budgeting for refunds, wine sale and club merchants can accommodate dissatisfied customers, avoid chargebacks and improve transaction flows.

Chargeback Mitigation Companies for Wine Club and Sale Merchants

Merchants can handle chargebacks in-house or outsource to a Chargeback Mitigation Specialist. The following companies are experienced in identifying all forms of fraud, including friendly fraud:

Chargeback Mitigation Companies:

  • MIDigator*
  • Chargeback Guru*
  • Chargebacks.com
  • Chargebacks 911
  • Chargeback 360

*DigiPay Preferred Provider

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How do I choose an eCommerce gateway?

Wine club and sales service providers rely on ecommerce and Mail Order/Telephone Order (MOTO) sales to scale their businesses. Credit card payments transacted online or by phone are called Card Not Present (CNP) transactions. Online CNP transactions involve credit card gateways that transmit payments from merchants to their payment processors.

Following is a list of recommended attributes of payment gateways that address the unique requirements of online wine clubs and sales service industries:

Support multiple merchant account IDs (MIDs):

Some wine clubs and sales services may need multiple merchant accounts to support their diversified array of offerings. Gateways should ideally be able to manage multiple merchant I.D.s organized under one master MID relationship.

Simple integration:

Payment gateways need to seamlessly integrate into CRMs, POS systems, third-party software, and eCommerce shopping carts to facilitate all forms of online, MOTO and in-store commerce.

Enhanced reporting tools:

Wine clubs and sales merchants need access to a variety of real-time reports and transaction data to grow and scale their businesses and manage chargebacks and refunds.

Merchant Dashboard, with permission levels:

In addition to enhanced reporting, wine club and sales merchants need secure access to transaction data from anywhere they happen to be working, with built-in permission levels to facilitate all levels of employees and management.

Payment gateways must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Ask your gateway provider if they are PCI DSS compliant and verify their certificate annually. Wine sales and club merchants also need a gateway with a data vault for tokenization of credit card numbers and encryption of customer personally identifiable information (PII). Tokenization replaces a Primary Account Number (PAN) with a randomly generated set of numbers and records this in the data vault. This is to prevent hackers from accessing customer data. By storing PII and PAN in a highly secure, offsite location merchants shift their liability to the gateway provider. Encryption and tokenization keep your customer’s information safe while allowing merchants access to the data for future transactions.

TranZlytics Gateway:
Choosing the right gateway provider is critical for high-risk merchants and their processors. DigiPay’s chosen gateway is TranZlytics. TranZlytics offers high risk merchants a Gateway and HUB built from the ground up for high-risk and CNP merchants. The solution includes transaction analytics and fraud prevention and built-in advanced chargeback management.

TranZlytics also offers advanced real-time reporting for faster and better use of CRM data. Payment descriptors are registered with a Chargeback Alerts program; re-presentments are pre-integrated with the gateway.

With a single HUB for transaction management and an expert risk management team to monitor your data, you can focus on what you do best, growing your business. Think of Tranzlytics as an online and mobile wine club and sales Payment HUB with the IQ of Einstein and the memory of an elephant.

CRMs for Wine Clubs and Sales Services

Customer Relations Management (CRM) software is a basic requirement, both for large enterprises and small companies that want to scale and grow their businesses. These systems are designed to automate the lifecycle of product offerings and to facilitate payments. As with payment gateways, it is vitally important to validate the CRM is PCI DSS compliant if it is touching customer information. Unlike payment gateways, CRM’s are not rigorously monitored for PCI DSS compliance; a security breach can devastate your business and erode customer trust.

Below are examples of CRMs used by professional wine club and sales service entrepreneurs and enterprise-level service providers:

  • Zuora:

    Zuora for Salesforce helps out businesses that use subscription based services by catering to the company’s customer relationships and helping them to maintain those relationships. After your initial sign up, you will find that your sales rep will be able to support your company when it comes to upgrades, add-ons, renewals, and so much more! They do so by providing you with a 360-degree view of each of your customers as well as catering towards their individual needs depending on their amount of satisfaction and loyalty. Learn more about Zuora here.

  • Zoho CRM:

    Zoho, a generic and inexpensive CRM program provides tools for recurring billing, customer tracking, customer satisfaction emails and a customizable database. While the service is not specifically designed for the wine clubs and sales industry, it is affordable and supports multiple MIDs. Learn more about Zoho here.

  • Google Sheets:

    Google Sheets is a free service that provides a basic spreadsheet for start-ups. Its biggest asset is that it is free.

Growing and Scaling Your Wine Club / Sales Business

It’s a Great Time to be in Wine

The wine club industry has become a worldwide phenomenon that is only continuing to grow. DigiPay is excited to play a supporting role when it comes to the growth of wine clubs and sales merchants. Our extended family of wine club and sales merchants, with vastly different models and product sets, are equally committed to optimal results, performance metrics and profitability. Some offer subscription programs; others provide mobile apps. All want affordable and easy high-risk payment card processing, which is our specialty.

Mike Ackerman
Co-Founder, CEO, DigiPay Solutions

Affiliate Marketing

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a partnership between merchants and affiliated individuals and companies that sell for them on the internet. Companies of all sizes, from leading global brands to start-up entrepreneurs, use the affiliate marketing model to great advantage, finding it an effective and lucrative ecommerce strategy. For example, thousands of Amazon.com affiliates promote products on their websites, redirecting buyers to Amazon’s site where they can check out and complete the sale. These sales are tracked by unique URLs that enable affiliates to earn commissions.

Creating an effective affiliate marketing plan begins with identifying trusted and reputable affiliates with extensive networks and followers, retail analysts have noted. These sources can help introduce products and services to markets outside a company’s traditional marketing footprint. Some examples might be a blogger with thousands of followers, or an e-zine with a strong vertical industry focus.

Because affiliate marketers are ideally an extension of a company’s brand and salesforce, it is crucial for organizations to create an affiliate program with clearly articulated terms and conditions, leaving nothing to chance. Some companies may outsource most of their promotional efforts to affiliate marketers. Others may supplement their traditional salesforce with a few affiliate partners.

Companies need to consider their primary objectives and corporate culture when creating an affiliate marketing program. Companies that manage more than one sales force, such as telemarketers and outside sales, have learned to structure sales programs to ensure that different teams are not competing against each other. This principle is equally relevant when working with affiliate marketers, who have proven to be most effective when they are not in direct competition with internal sales teams.

How do I create an affiliate marketing plan for wine sales and clubs?

The first step in creating an effective affiliate marketing plan is to identify trusted and reputable affiliate partners with extensive networks and followers. A blogger with thousands of followers, or an e-zine (digital magazines) in a cross-over vertical, can help introduce products and services to markets outside a company’s traditional marketing footprint.

Some companies outsource their promotional efforts to affiliate marketers; others supplement their traditional salesforce with a few affiliate partners. Regardless of what affiliate model a business owner may choose, it is critical to clearly articulate terms and conditions of service to affiliate marketers, to ensure their interests and practices are aligned with an organization’s culture and brand.

Aligning an affiliate marketing program with corporate interests, objectives and culture will help ensure success. Companies with more than one sales force, such as telemarketers and outside sales, have learned to structure sales programs to keep teams engaged and minimize interdepartmental conflicts. This principle is equally relevant when working with affiliate marketers, who have proven to be most effective when they are not directly competing with internal sales staff.

Leading Affiliate Marketing Companies

Wine.com: Wine.com focuses on selling high-quality, Californian wines from a variety of regions. Some of their most popular brands include Dom Pérignon and Möet. By placing images, banners, and links that lead to their website, yours, you’ll be paid if anyone visits their website though yours. It’s fast, easy, and, best of all, free to join!

Majestic Wine: Majestic Wine is the biggest mixed case wine retailer in the United Kingdom. They boast over 200 stores nationwide and offer a variety of delivery options to get your wine to you in the best, most affordable, and convenient way possible. When someone visits their website and purchases a wine, you receive a commission from them. The average sale from affiliate links is around £130 per order. This is also a high conversion rate for other countries which means you’ll be making a lot of money in a short amount of time.

Cellars Wine Club: By posting links to their website on yours, you can earn commission fees relatively quickly. This is because Cellars Wine Club offers a hefty commission fee of 15% per order of wine with the average order being around $160 per sale. They also offer a ‘no bad battle’ guarantee which means they are willing to replace any damage or bad bottles of wine with a fresh, new one for consumers to enjoy.

Organic Wine Company: The Organic Wine Company is one of the only wine distributors to sell organic wines made with organic grapes. Their wines are made with zero pesticides, from the soil they plant their seeds in all the way to the water they use to sprinkle their grape vines. Their affiliate link provides people with 5% commission per sale or 10% of the sale applied to your next purchase from their company. Commissions are paid out monthly or when you have earned a minimum of $50 from wine sales.

Corkcicle: Corkcicle was once nominated as Best New Company of the Year. With a reputation like that, it’s no wonder they have such a successful affiliate program. While Corkcicle does not sell or provide wines themselves, they do offer a unique wine accessory that you can sell towards your consumers. Corkcicles keep reds at the perfect temperature for sipping while also keeping white wines chilled. You will receive 12% commission per sale which will increase to 15% after your 100th sale per month. The average consumers spend about $68 per sale and buys about three products.

What are Five Essential Components of an Affiliate Marketing Plan?

Find an affiliate that knows the industry: Traditional affiliate marketing companies may face challenges unless they understand your customer demographics. This is why many wine sales and clubs provide commissions directly to affiliate marketers and bloggers whose followers include those who enjoy good wine and food.

Establish dedicated URL links: Dedicated URLs are directly tied to affiliate marketers’ commissions and need to directly link to landing pages and product codes. Companies can work with IT specialists to create accurate links, that enable them to track and promptly commission affiliate sale transactions.

Create a coupon program: Discount codes, one of the biggest growth hacks on the internet, show no sign of slowing down. Consumers continue to search for coupons and offers online. The right targeted offers help affiliate marketers turn shoppers into buyers.

Stay in touch with affiliate partners: Establishing deep ties with affiliate partners by notifying them in real-time of any changes in inventory, pricing models or promotions. No company can afford the embarrassment of having an affiliate learn of a discontinued item or clearance sale through a third party. As sales representatives on the front lines of selling a company’s products, affiliate marketers deserve real-time alerts to keep them agile and motivated.

KPIs, banners: Affiliate marketers, like any sales professionals, need to track their key performance indicators to assess their closing rates and stay motivated. A secure portal, where they can log in and view their activity, commission status and current promotions, will help them stay on track and reduce customer service calls.

How can Merchants Prevent Affiliate Fraud?

  • Know Your Affiliate (KYA):

    Before you approve a new affiliate, your first step in preventing fraud is to fully vet them. Ask them about their current brand relationships and how they promote their products. Their responses will help you evaluate if their values and culture are consistent with your company’s image and brand. Ask how the affiliate will drive traffic & sales to your offer. Check to see if the affiliate has behaved fraudulently in other programs

  • Review the Affiliate Site to See:

    • Is their website(s) compatible with your brand standards?
    • What visual impression are they creating?
    • Is the copy written in a way that will enhance or cheapen your brand?
    • Are the product descriptions accurate?
    • How well are they promoting their site?
    • How well do they integrate with social sharing options?

  • Enforce Affiliate T&C and keep them updated:

    To stay apace with ever-changing rules and regulations, it is necessary to periodically update your affiliate terms and conditions. Let your affiliates know how these updates will be broadcast and request confirmation. Be sure to include a due date for compliance to the new terms as well as an enforcement strategy.

  • What is the best way to enforce Affiliate Terms?

    Monitor for violations using technology and human intelligence. Consider contracting with third-party service providers that use technology to monitor websites, or build those capabilities in-house. Ideally, machine learning coupled with human intelligence is the best way to ensure compliance.

  • Can Enforcement Be Outsourced?

    Yes, DigiPay powered by Tranzlytics provides high-risk merchants with Pro Managed Services to ensure compliance and to detect and prevent fraud. Tranzlytics fraud detection includes daily screen shots that identify changes to a website. In addition to monitoring for key word violations, Tranzlytics can monitor affiliates and sub-affiliates traffic to ensure compliance.

What is the best way to spot affiliate fraud?

The adage, trust but verify, applies when monitoring affiliates. The following guidelines can help identify potential fraud:

  • • URLS’s with multiple redirects: It is important to know if the affiliate is using an approved site for your offer or unapproved sites to send fraudulent traffic.
  • • Look at referring URL’s for the original source of leads and sales. Check for trends to identify sub-affiliates associated with fraud and high chargeback ratios.
  • • Multiple transactions from a single IP address. This could indicate an affiliate or sub-affiliate is running stolen credit cards to place multiple orders.
  • • Use transaction history and trends to Investigate spikes in leads or sales.

What are common affiliate marketing words, expressions and phrases?

Affiliate software: Unique applications developed by companies to track and manage their affiliate marketing programs.

Affiliate link: This distinct URL, created for each affiliate marketer, enables companies to recognize, track and pay commissions to affiliates.

Affiliate ID: These unique IDs are sometimes used in addition to unique URLs on websites to identify affiliate marketers and ensure that they are compensated for sales.

Payment Mode: Pertains to the method of payment used by a consumer to complete an affiliate-referred sale. Most affiliate programs offer payment methods beyond traditional credit cards to appeal to global consumers.

Affiliate Manager/OPM: Affiliate managers, who specialize in all aspects of affiliate marketing, provide expert guidance on establishing and maintaining affiliate programs.

Commission percentage/amount: This refers to the percentage of each sale that companies provide in commissions to their affiliate marketers.

2-tier, or multi-tier, affiliate marketing: Like multi-level marketing schemes, this method rewards affiliate partners for referrals and recommendations, creating a second tier of sub-affiliates who can also earn sub-affiliate commissions.

Landing pages: This web page is used to promote a specific product and is frequently used to test a market’s receptivity to a product or service.

Custom affiliate income/account: Some companies reward top-producing affiliates by creating an elite sales program with higher-tiered commissions.

Link clocking: Link clocking shortens affiliate-identifying links, keeping them short and easy on the eyes.

Custom coupons: Custom coupon programs, directly linked to specific affiliates, help companies track and analyze affiliate sales.

A growing number of companies are working with DigiPay and TranZlytics to optimize and grow their affiliate programs. Contact us today for a no-obligation review.

Industry Associations

Jan. 7-9, 2018: Affiliate Summit West is in Las Vegas in January. Regional Affiliate Summit Social Events take place in cities around the world, providing digital marketers with additional networking opportunities.

February 26-28, 2018: Traffic and Conversion Summit, San Diego – The largest conversion conference in North America is held in San Diego every February, attracting digital marketers from around the world.

For an up-to-date list of digital marketing conferences, visit http://www.marketingterms.com/conferences/

Annual Events and Conferences

Annual conferences and events provide wine club and sales professionals with networking and educational opportunities. Here are some examples:

Feb. 23-24, 2018: Celebrate Wine Fest Edmonton, Canada and Calgary, Canada. This wine festival contains a ton of wines from all over the world while also providing scrumptious hors d’ouevres to munch on.

Feb. 28-Mar. 2, 2018: Michigan Grape and Wine Conference Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you’re looking to get started in the wine business, then this conference was made for you! This event reveals all of the aspects involved with the wine industry including winemaking, business development, marketing and more! This is truly a perfect opportunity for those in the wine business to learn more about how to get their business off the ground.

Mar. 12-16, 2018: Grand Jours de Bourgogne Beaune, France. Being held only once every two years, this is an event you don’t want to miss. This event takes place in the heart of a vineyard. For an entire week, you get to indulge in 15 wine-tasting sessions.  This event provides the opportunity to discover over 10,000 wines and meet over 1,000 wine-growers. Take note: this event is exclusively for professional wine buyers only.

Mar. 13, 2018: Barrel Reserve Party San Francisco, California. When it comes to wine, there is nothing more luxurious than tasting wine directly from the barrel. Thanks to this event at Cooper’s Hawk Winery, this can be a dream come true. At this event, you can taste their exclusive 2016 and 2017 blends while also being one of the first to sip on their 2018 Barrel Reserve.

Apr. 10, 2018: Great Gatsby San Francisco, California. Have you ever wanted to be a part of the luxurious world of the roaring twenties? Then this event is for you! Modeled after the Great Gatsby, this decadent night will be filled with splendor. This event features not only divine wines, but also a scrumptious multi-course meal. Raise your glass to a spectacular night of fun and resplendence!

May 15-16, 2018: USA Trade Tasting 2018 New York City, New York. Located in the Big Apple, this event is the perfect place to buy and distribute your wine. Looking to taste some wines and find a brand new, delicious one to send out to your club members? With hundreds of high-quality and innovative wines being showcased, you’ll be sure to find a fantastic wine that your members will love!

May 21-23, 2018: London Wine Fair London, England. The London Wine Fair features the broadest selections of wine on this list. Boasting over 40,000 wines from 40 different countries, this is a must-attend event for anyone in the wine industry or those who are looking to discover their new favorite wine.

June 14-17, 2018: Bordeaux Wine Festival Bordeaux, France. Another event that is only held once every two years. This festival provides a spectacular range of entertainment on top of their wine tastings. Some of this entertainment includes firework shows, concerts, and art exhibits. You can’t possibly think of missing this event!

Join the growing community of wine clubs and sale companies that process with DigiPay Solutions

Thank you for taking the time to review this compendium to learn about available opportunities and solutions in the wine sales and club industry. We look forward to welcoming you to our growing merchant community.

Our online application takes minutes to complete. Once approved, our relationship managers will help you personalize your business management portal and leverage our full complement of secure payment gateway and chargeback management tools. They’ll help provision your processing account, ecommerce website and POS systems in brick-and-mortar stores.

DigiPay will also make it easy for your customers to find you, by helping you create an engaging online and in-store presence and seamless customer checkout experience. Take your wine sales and club business to the next level today at digipayinc.com.

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