Vineyard Scene

Why Data Capture is Essential for a Successful DtC Operation


If a customer comes into your tasting and buys a case of wine, if you do not collect any personal data, it could mean that you have potentially lost them as a long-term customer. Sure, there is a chance they will return, but you do not have the valuable ability to reach out and connect with them on a continuous basis. How can you tell them about the promotion you have going on next week, or invite them to the special event you are hosting next month if you have no way to contact them? Likewise, if you have no purchase history for a customer, how can you know what future promotions or events would be of interest to them?

Data capture, also known as “data collection,” is the process of gathering personal information from your customers and is an essential step in building an ongoing customer relationship effectively. Some employees feel uncomfortable asking for personal information. And there is some merit to that because if approached the wrong way, it can feel invasive. That is why it is important to make sure you are using best practices to ensure that customers feel comfortable, and more importantly, want to provide the information.

What type of data should you collect?

First, how do you know what type of information to collect? Whenever possible, you should attempt to collect full contact information, which would include:

  • First and last name
  • Billing address or zip code
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Birthdate

However, getting this level of information can be tricky, as some customers may find it invasive while others may not have the time to provide it all. Let us look at the types of data and how best to ask for it. 

Name and email address

At the bare minimum, you should try to collect their name and email address. This will allow you to send them emails about special promotions, upcoming events, surveys, tasting room news, and more. You can also personalize your emails, so they have the customer’s name in the subject line or body. 

Research by the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that simply adding the recipient’s name to the subject line of an email can boost the open rate by 20% and reduce the unsubscribe rate by 17%! However, it has also been shown that the overuse of this tactic can cause the opposite effect, so it is best to use it in moderation. Knowing your customer’s name also strengthens your relationship with them. We all enjoy visiting businesses where we do not feel like just another number or sale. 

Where do they live?

The next type of information that is useful to collect is where the customer lives. This lets you know several important factors. Are they a local that will be able to come back to the tasting room regularly? Would they be able to attend events? If they are a tourist who lives far away, maybe they would be interested in your wine shipping services. Knowing where they live can open various opportunities to further showcase offerings, they might be interested in.

Personal information 

Lastly, any personal information you can capture will help improve your interactions and allow you to make better recommendations. For example, say your customer Mary has a son named George who is graduating from college in two months. She tells you she is incredibly excited, and they plan to throw a big party for him. You can take note of the date then follow up a couple of weeks before George’s party with a special promotion on a case of wine. The next time you see her, you can ask, “how was George’s party?” Small details by themselves may not seem important, but collectively they provide a wealth of opportunity in understanding your customers and their potential needs. It also helps you build trust and customer loyalty

Best practices for collecting data

Once you understand how the data can be used, it is important to make sure that you are collecting it the right way. Many people bristle at aggressive attempts to gain their personal information, which is understandable. The best way to get information is to ask only what you need and to do it in the interest of being friendly or helpful. 

For example, if you are pouring wine for someone, you can introduce yourself, and ask them their name. This can be followed up with a question like, “are you from around here?” or “have you been here before?” Since your tasting room likely sees several tourists, this is a logical, conversational question that does not feel invasive. If they say no, you can follow up with, “Oh, where are you from?” If someone comes in to purchase a case of wine, you can ask if they are on your mailing list or a member of your wine club. Another way you can collect information is by offering a discount when they sign up for your mailing list or wine club. 

To sum it all up, data gives you the clearest look at a customer’s purchase trends while also allowing you to develop a relationship and inspire trust. Data capture is often best achieved by using your customer service skills to coax information in a way that is both friendly and beneficial to your guests. By leveraging your data, you can also ensure that you are providing customers with helpful information that they will want to take advantage of.