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2012: A vintage year for Amazon?
Amazon.com has tried to make the move into wine sales a couple of times over the last decade or so. Could their latest attempt be third time lucky?
In 1999, Amazon.com purchased a 45% stake in Wineshopper.com for $30 million, but that business closed a year later.
In 2008, Amazon.com revisited wine sales and even advertised for a Senior Wine Buyer. At the time, it was reported that the online retailer would be working with New Vine Logistics, a Napa-based company that handles wine fulfillment, to ship to around 26 U.S. states. Financial difficulties scuppered this attempt.
Reports on the Wine Industry Insight website and in the Wall Street Journal this weekend uncork Amazon's wine-selling ambitions once more. With more than 5,000 wineries in the U.S., and at least one in every state, Amazon has no shortage of suppliers.
According to Wine Industry Insight, Amazon wants vintners to pay a fee of $39.99 per month to be part of the program, plus a 15% commission. Furthermore, participants may have to handle their own shipping.
Amazon is keeping schtum about its plans, for now. Similarly, attendees of recent meetings held in Napa and Sonoma are subject to non-disclosure agreements.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon's wine marketplace would be open for business "in the coming weeks", just in time for the Christmas shopping rush.
The move gives smaller wineries greater exposure, but some argue that selling wines via Amazon is too impersonal and a harder environment in which to get across a brand experience, a vital part of a consumer's decision-making process.
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