February 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Wine retailer boosts traffic from natural search on new on-demand platform

After migrating from an in-house customized web site to an on-demand e-commerce platform, Sam’s Wine & Spirits boosted traffic from Google natural search while improving the overall shopping experience, senior e-commerce manager Ryan Lodge says.

After migrating from an in-house customized web site to an on-demand e-commerce platform, Sam’s Wine & Spirits boosted traffic from Google natural search while improving the overall shopping experience, senior e-commerce manager Ryan Lodge says.

“From February 2007 to February 2008, we increased by more than 50% the number of visitors from Google natural search,” Lodge says. He attributes the increase to the new platform’s search-friendly URLs and the way the platform automatically sends updated site information to the Google search index.

Sam’s relaunched its retail site last October on the Demandware on-demand e-commerce platform, a platform it chose because it offered the best mix of cost, functionality and ease of managing merchandising and promotions, adds Jerry Cronin, vice president of information technology and accounting for Arbor Investments, the venture capital firm that supports Sam’s. “We looked at a lot of e-commerce platforms, and Demandware not only supported our economic and growth needs, but it gave us the ability to have our e-commerce people manage the online merchandising and promotions without having to use software programmers,” Cronin says.

For example, Ryan says, Sam’s has experienced good results from special promotions like its daily “Lunch Crush,” a play on crushing grapes, under which it e-mails special offers to a segmented customer base.

The new site, developed on the Demandware platform by Lyons Consulting Group, also enables shoppers to browse thousands of wine products by type, variety, country of origin, price, reviews and pairings of wine and food.

Ryan and Cronin say they also chose Demandware because it can support the retailer’s plans to launch microsites to serve niche wine and related products markets. They expect to launch as many as 10 microsites by the end of this year, they say.

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