It’s official! Amazon launched their online wine marketplace last Thursday. From A to Z and now one more W, they just added wine to the myriad of products they already sell. It took the internet retail giant just a few weeks to get enough winemakers (domestic for now) interested in the project. Unlike other online wine merchants, Amazon will play the middleman for all the wineries involved in the giant’s latest crusade. This is a business model that will alleviate the need for storing the wine, as the wineries will be responsible for the shipping. So far, the program covers 12 states, including Washington D.C. – gotta make sure the guys at the White House don’t run out of the good stuff!
Amazon has been able to expand consumer choices since the very first day. They have excelled in creating one of the largest, most reliable community of consumers. It is always a plus for buyers to see what others people are saying about each and every product being sold. I’m quite certain that this concept will be applied to their wine store as well. In addition to consumer reviews, the site will feature tasting notes, food pairing and other wine details provided by the wineries.
Shipping cost? Well, it won’t be free, even for the proud owners of the Amazon Prime, the company’s $79-a-year program that gives members free two-day shipping. The shipping will be charged at $9.99 for a maximum of 6 bottles.
In addition to paying a flat fee to Amazon, winemakers like Goose Ridge, Gloria Ferrer and Hall will also give a percentage of the sale price back to Amazon. With very minimal upfront cost, the wineries that agreed to use this new wine marketplace are hoping to benefit from the Herculean selling power and massive consumer base of Amazon. In a way, they are tagging along on this crazy retail train without the risk of going off the rails. So what does this mean to the more traditional online wine merchants? Rival online wine sellers, such as Wine.com, don’t seem to consider this move a real competition: “Amazon is basically an advertising agent for the wineries,” said Wine.com’s Bergsund. “If you’re a winery, it’s not that different from buying an ad on Google; there’s huge traffic, but there’s not much value added.”
So they’re not worried… there I was hoping for a fun game of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s a little disappointing but it is nice to see people getting along. So I guess we can all continue to buy and enjoy wine as usual, and guilt free.
I truly believe this move will have a positive impact on the wine industry for both the winemaker and the consumer. Only 2% of wine purchases are made via the internet. This number seems awfully low, but let’s not forget the main topic: we’re talking about wine. Wine is about relationships, not just with the wine itself, but with all the people involved in the process: the farmer who grew the vine and harvested the grapes, the winemaker who made the wine, the wine merchant who told you all about the history behind it, and the friends with whom it is being shared. Wine (red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert, etc…) will remain a drink that reunites people, a social network of its own kind… the kind that genuinely gets people together. I hope that somewhere in this deep, cold and dark vortex of computer data, Amazon remembers that essential fact: wine is about life and people.
Wine quote: “Wine always tastes better when shared with the people you love.” – Wine Ponder. (enjoy more famous excerpts by visiting our wine quotes page.)