Using Nexternal For Wine Clubs - Best Practices
Brian Benson - Brian Benson Cellars
“Once I finally made the switch to Nexternal, and started using the Order Management System, I was blown away with how easy it was to use, and how much time it was saving me. After I sent my first email to my club members through Nexternal, and got everyone use to the sign in procedure, I received email after email of updates members were making to their accounts. Credit Card updates, address updates, etc, and I didn't have to enter ONE of them! I'm able to run my business, and process my orders far more efficiently with Nexternal.”
Nexternal's eCommerce Platform is used by more than 300 wineries. Numerous features have been added to the platform specific to the wine industry. One of the great advantages of using Nexternal's cloud based wine club software is that members can log in and update their preferred shipping, billing, and credit card information online. Club member data and customer data is all housed in one location. Additionally, tracking information is automatically emailed to customers which reduces customer service calls. The purpose of this document is to provide some best practices for managing wine club memberships and wine club orders within the Nexternal system. The process can be broken down into five components:
- Setting up customer types to identify club members
- Setting up a club membership sign-up as a product in the store
- Processing a club membership order
- Creating a club shipment (wine club order)
- Processing wine club orders
1. SETTING UP CUSTOMER TYPES
In the Customers section of the Order Management System you can setup multiple customer types (Customers/Types). By default, Nexternal's software has 3 customer types which can be added to or modified. Nexternal recommends setting up a new type for each type of club that you have. Also consider creating a type called "Discontinued Club Member" so that you can track club member attrition.
2. ADDING CLUB MEMBERS
The most effective way to allow customers to join your wine club is by setting the club membership up as a product itself in the storefront. Many wineries capture club memberships using separate forms on their web sites. However, if these forms and databases aren't setup correctly, the winery could face unnecessary security risks. By capturing the membership as a product itself in the Nexternal storefront, you can be assured that all data is properly encrypted and secure. Nexternal's software supports both attributes and write-in attributes if there are additional bits of information that you wish to collect pertaining to your club. When you setup the wine club membership product, you can specify a Customer Type Upgrade on the edit product screen. If you select your Wine Club customer type,once the customer adds the product to the Shopping Cart, the customer's shopping session proceeds as if the Customer Type had changed to the upgraded Type (unless the product is later removed from the Shopping Cart), potentially impacting Product Prices, Product and Category Visibility, Product Allocations, etc.; however, the change does not become permanent until the customer places the order. When they place the order, they will also automatically be customer typed with that value. Please note that the Customer Type Upgrade is only available for clients using Nexternal.NET.
It is common for wineries will allow members to join for free. Therefore, set the price of the membership (product price) to $0. However, since you will be billing these members for their recurring orders moving forward, it is important that the system still capture payment information even though the order total may be $0. To do this, visit Settings/Edit Billing Options and uncheck the box labeled, "Do not require payment when order total is $0." Also, be conscience of how shipping will be calculated if someone orders a membership. You will likely want to set the product weight to zero so that shipping rates are not assessed. However, if you intend to send the current shipment out upon member sign up, then it makes sense to add an appropriate price and weight for shipping.
If you have an existing database of wine club members, you may also use the Customer Import to upload those members into the Nexternal database.
3. PROCESSING CLUB MEMBERSHIP ORDERS
When an order is placed for a wine club membership signup, there are special steps that should be taken. If you are not using the Customer Type Upgrade as mentioned in step 2, change the customer type to the appropriate club member type. The customer's last name is a hyperlink on both the customer list and detail screens. Click on that link to visit the customer detail screen and change their type accordingly using the "type" select box. Next, review the addresses. When the wine club order is placed, the system will use the primary ship to and primary bill to address if defined. If these are not defined, the system will use the customer's general contact address. On the customer detail screen, you will see the listed addresses and whether or not they are designated as primary. If the bill to and ship to addresses are not the same for the order as the customer contact record, edit the additional addresses and define the Primary Bill to or Primary Ship to accordingly. For the next step, ensure that the customer's credit card has been marked as a "saved credit card." On the customer detail screen, make sure that the credit card the customer used is listed as a saved credit card. If it is not, return to the order detail screen, edit Payment Information and mark the credit card as a saved credit card.
4. CREATING A WINE CLUB SHIPMENT
Before creating a wine club shipment, it is recommended that you:
- Turn off credit card authorizations if you are currently authorizing at the time the order is placed. (Settings/Edit Compatible Software/Payment Gateways (Preferences)/Authorize credit cards before accepting orders). Having the feature on can significantly slow down the creation of wine club orders.
- Double check to your shipping calculations (Settings/Shipping/Show Zones and Rates)
If this shipment contains wines that aren't currently available in your online store, you may consider setting the visibility of the wine club shipment products to "Internal" or just create a new product for this one time use (for example: "Spring Club Shipment"). Once you have the club shipment product created, go to Orders then click the "Wine Club Order" button at the top of the order list screen. Name the order (for example: "2006 Spring Wine Club Shipment"), select the appropriate club member customer type, select the Credit Card Payment Method, and click Next. You will now see how many club members are eligible and how many are excluded. If time is not pressing, consider running the report and trying to remedy the excluded people before placing the order to create as many successful orders as possible. If there are many excluded people, consider emailing using the Mail Wizard button at the bottom of the report screen to email them. You can instruct the excluded people to update their credit card on file by going to:
Once they log in, they may update or add a new credit card.
Once you are ready to continue, click the Proceed button, add the club product(s) to the cart, then click on Check Out. On the final order screen you have the option of whether or not email confirmations are sent to customers for their wine club order.
If some members were excluded from this order, you may generate another wine club order and exclude the valid members from the first wine order to prevent any duplicates.
5. PROCESSING THE WINE CLUB ORDERS
Once you have all of your wine club orders in the system, they are ready to be processed. Nexternal's Batch Processing feature provides an efficient method of doing just that. If you are using a payment gateway and the Online Shipping Tools, you can capture payment and create shipping labels simultaneously. In Orders/Batch Process, Nexternal recommends checking the box in the Shipping section that states, "include only orders with a billing status of paid." Because you are not authorizing orders at the time they are placed, there will likely be some orders in the system that result in a declined credit card. Unfortunately there is no way around contacting those customers and trying to get a new credit on file. Once you get that new credit card, edit the order and process it again by clicking on the green dollar sign button. Be sure to mark the new credit card as a saved credit card. After running the batch process, visit the reports section to print out the shipping labels.
If you use a 3rd party fulfillment company to handle your order fulfillment, you may export an Excel or Access file containing the order information and email the attachment to your vendor to process. Another option is setting the trusted fulfillment company up with limited user access to your OMS to process orders directly from the OMS or obtain the information to export themselves. Some fulfillment houses may also be able to query the order data out using the XML Tools.
- Nexternal's software does not allow a customer to downgrade his own customer type. Therefore, if someone wishes to discontinue his membership, someone from the winery will need to log into the OMS and change the customer's type accordingly so the customer is not included in future wine club orders.
- If setting up your club for the first time, there are several imports that can be used including a customer import, an address import, and a credit card import.
- Consider offering club members a discount on online purchases. You might add an addendum to the order and/or shipment confirmation email that points out the benefits of your wine club program and specifically invites them to join.
- For gift clubs, create the wine recipient as a customer in the system and make the purchaser's credit card info the primary bill to information.
If you are interested in learning more about how your winery can utilize Nexternal's wine club software, please call 800-914-6161.