Unboxing Club W. - What We've Learned from Shopping Online
February 26, 2016 7 min read
Everyone likes to go shopping, especially online where you don't have to stand in crowds or lines. But, why not take something you love and learn from it. Our Unboxing series is designed to give you insight into what top online sellers are doing, how they are presenting their products, and how they follow through on branding and promotional efforts. This month, we're unboxing Club W, a high end wine subscription box that allows you to tailor the wines you receive to your palate and preference.
Most successful ecommerce businesses spend a large portion of their marketing budget on branding, and this is especially important when shipping things out. Ecommerce brands have to pay attention to shipping quality, speed, costs, in the box branding, and other factors to follow through on their brand's image. Let's see how Club W managed.
How Was It Shipped? - A
Club W. sells wine, and for this reason, they have to verify that you are 21 or older when you receive the package. This means that all shipments must be signed for to prove you're of legal drinking age. This makes Club W's job slightly more difficult, because it rules out cost effective shipping methods and requires special signed for postage with age restrictions. Packaging is incredibly important because it can make up 5-15% of your costs, and it affects the cost of shipping. Club W has to choose more expensive options because of their product.
Club W also ships heavy and fragile wine bottles, which are not the best items to ship. This requires special consideration when shipping items out, because a single mistake could result in the customer getting a broken wine bottle.
Our Club W. box arrived at our door and we had to sign for it, show an ID to prove that the recipient was over 21, and the box was ours.
The box itself is nicely branded, which is a good sign. The exterior is decorated in black and burgundy, with a large Club W logo on it. It also looks like something that should hold wine. Adding logos or your company name to the box is important for reinforcing your brand, and ensures that the customer knows exactly what they're getting before they open the box, and Club W managed both.
The top of the box was taped which doesn't really say luxury, but does keep the box closed, and makes sense if the wine has to be inspected when going over state lines.
Basically, Club W did the best they could within requirements of what they're shipping. Lightweight plastic or paper is cheaper to ship, but a box is really necessary for fragile items.
What About Shipping Labels? - C
A quick glance at the shipping label tells you a lot about the company, their shipping methods, and what they're spending money on. Club W uses Fed Ex which is definitely one of the pricier shipping options available, but considering their products have to be signed for, they don’t have many cost effective choices.
That aside, Club W could still save a lot of money by making a few better choices.
For example, they currently use Snapfulfil warehouse management to help manage monthly shipments but, they aren't using a 3PL.
Club W sources their wines from different wineries, which presents a challenge in its own. In this case, our wine was shipped from 860 E. Stowell Rd in Santa Monica California. That's the Terravant Wine Company, who shipped out the order. Terravant sources wine from around the country, and is likely where Club W. sources their own vints. So, they're not always shipping directly from their warehouse, and they're most likely paying a great extra for the direct to customer service. However, they likely save money on importing wines and storage costs, because they don't have to store, sort, repackage, and then distribute wine on their own. Instead, they go through a third party that already offers this service, and already claims to have over 600 types of wine in their warehouse at any given time.
Terravant could also be saving money by switching to a 3PL service. The 3PL would ship the wine to a warehouse nearest to the delivery address, and then pay only for the FedEx costs to ship from that warehouse directly to the customer, which could reduce costs a great deal.
The company could also save money by switching to an EVS or Electronic Verification System. USPS would be a more cost effective shipping method, and allows for Adult Signature on Delivery, similarly to FedEx.
What's in the Box? A+
Club W. shipped their wine in a nicely packed corrugated cardboard holder which is perfect for keeping three bottles of wine snug and protected. The corrugated cardboard is a lightweight, eco-friendly, and probably recycled material that holds well with Club W's brand message of sustainability, while protecting the wine bottles. While it won't hold up to a very heavy shock or drop, the bottles arrived intact, and we can only assume that the delivery team treated the package as fragile. This was a great cost effective choice for holding the wine, and works well with the brand.
Opening the box, we were immediately greeted with a Club W logo, and a nicely done package. This opens up to reveal three wine cards, and three carefully packed bottles of wine.
The packaging is cost effective considering the weight and nature of the items, as there aren't really too many choices. It's also more eco friendly than styrofoam packaging. Again, Club W made very good choices for what they had to work with.
Promotional Efforts A+
The empty space inside of your box is more important than the exterior, because you want to reinforce your brand after the customer has opened up a product they love. Here, Club W does nicely.
In addition to the branded exterior box, they included three branded wine cards with information about the wine and where to go to see a video about each one with more information. This reinforces the brand, makes the customer feel like they are important and learning something, and makes the product feel premium. Of course, not every product needs its own video, but it is a nice touch for a premium subscription box that needs to give people reason to keep coming back for more instead of heading to their local liquor store.
There's also a branded welcome to the club card, with information about Club W.
Finally, Club W branded the inside of their box with a reminder that we can tailor the selection of wines we get each month by reviewing the bottles and telling them what we do and do not like.
Essentially, Club W has two in-box efforts to get users back on the site, while also reminding them that they are important customers, and that their opinions matter. That's a great marketing effort by any standards.
Conclusion: Overall Grade A
Club W has a tough product to ship, and while they could be making more cost effective decisions with their shipping methods, they do a great job with what they have. They also manage to package wine bottles safely, brand the inside and outside of the box, and get customers interested in going back to the site.
That aside, they have gone with one of the most expensive shipping options available, which is sure to cut into profits. Using a third party logistics company could help them cut down on costs, as could switching to USPS instead of FedEx.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Unboxing post, hopefully you've gained some insight into how shipping and distribution affect your costs, and learned more about your distribution options.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Club W and does not create any sense of association between Skubana and the company.
Skubana's software directly integrates with low cost 3PL providers in the U.S., allowing you to automate orders between the shopping cart and marketplace, print custom shipping labels, and much more. Contact us for a free demonstration, or to find out how Skubana's software works for you.
Written By Chad Rubin
Chad Rubin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Skubana, a multichannel e-commerce software the enables brands to unlock growth by unifying their back-office operations.