Sunday, October 25, 2009
Amazon Wine pulling the plug has been a major disappointment for many of us in the online wine business.
There is no doubt that they would have helped 'float the boat' for all online wine sales, even direct to consumer sales from the winery website.
Wine ecommerce has yet to hit critical mass yet. I believe it will relatively soon.
But the expense of doing wine business online has made it a slow sales channel for many companies thus far. Many wineries and online wine companies have not realized the level of sales they were expecting as of yet.
We have a few challenges to overcome in the online wine industry:
1. Most pressing is the state by state regulatory issues that Tom Wark has so eloquently addressed in his Fermentation blog post here. These unnecessary and expensive hurdles make it financially unfeasible for many online wine companies.
2. As of yet,there has not been widespread consumer adoption of online wine purchasing. This is one aspect I was counting on Amazon Wine to really lead the way on. People used to scoff at the idea of consumers buying books online. Now it is considered perfectly acceptable , if not preferable, for many readers.
Amazon also created a viable path for smaller publishers to get their books to consumers, especially when the chain bookstores refused to carry their titles.
Online sales channels are creating similar outlets for smaller wineries and importers, especially when large wholesalers refuse to represent artisanal wine producers.
3. Much of the wine trade has been pulled kicking and screaming into the online world over the past few years, both from a sales and marketing perspective. Wine wholesalers have fought against opening up trade barriers for online retailers across the states. Wineries have been slow to understand and maximize online sales channels, except those sales originating from their own websites. Local retailers only started shipping wine once their consumers continually requested the service.
Wine consumer demand will be the deciding factor in revolutionizing the online wine world, as well as accelerating online sales numbers (this is the beef).
In this way, online wine sales mirror the rise of organic wines in the past few years. This growing category was not heralded by the wine trade, the consumers kept asking for and are finally getting their request met with higher quality wines made with organic and biodynamic grapes.
Until that time, we are lucky to have a host of companies that continue to fight the good fight when it comes to online wine sales. These are a few of them:
Posted by Amy Atwood at 12:55 PM