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BizReport : : November 09, 2012


Amazon launches third attempt to uncork wine sales

Amazon Wine is now open for business. After a rocky start, the online retailer has this week launched its latest attempt to make a success of wine selling in the US.

by Helen Leggatt

Following my report of meetings held by Amazon with wineries in Napa and Sonoma during September this year, the online retailer has today confirmed its plans to give selling wine online another try.

Amazon Wine has begun offering customers a selection of 1,000 or so wines at prices ranging from $5 to $200. A comprehensive search engine enables selection of wines by, among other things, tasting notes, food pairings, percentage alcohol, winery location or professional rating.

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The new Amazon Wine website, currently still in beta, reveals that, for now, the service is operating in just 12 states - California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, and Washington, D.C..

This is Amazon's third attempt to uncork the wine market.

In 1999, the company 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.

This time around Amazon.com is acting more as a middleman, with individual wineries fulfilling their own orders. That does mean, however, that if a customer orders a selection of wines from different wineries, in one order, that order will still arrive separately from each winery.

Amazon is charging wineries $40 per month to join Amazon Wine, plus a 15% fee on each sale, according to Francis Ford Coppola Winery, one of the participating wineries. The real value to wineries is the ability to get their wines in front of a huge audience accompanied by detailed information and opinions.

Perhaps in anticipation of Amazon's latest move into wine selling, Wine.com announced earlier this week they have launched their own wine marketplace. The retailer, which is also the largest seller through Amazon, ships more than 2.5 million bottles a year to states representing over 90 percent of the U.S. adult population.

Tags: Amazon, online sales, retail trends, winemakers, winery










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