EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2932 - November 09, 2012     1 of 4

Amazon Sells Wine, but 3P Seller Restrictions Remain

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Buying even a book online was a risky proposition when Amazon.com came along in 1994 - little did people expect to purchase everything from dental floss to designer clothing on the World Wide Web back then. Liquor stores may never have imagined they'd be competing with Amazon.com for wine sales 18 years later, but on Thursday, the online marketplace officially launched Amazon Wine.

Starting this week, customers can ship up to six bottles of their favorite wine for $9.99. At launch, shipping will be available to California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia, "with more coming soon," Amazon said.

Amazon Wine offering more than a thousand wines from wineries around the country and features shopping tools to help customers explore wines. The store also provides access to details from winemakers, such as tasting notes, recommended food pairings and total case production. Amazon also offers wine glasses, wine openers, wine books, glass markers and more, and shoppers can also browse gift baskets in the wine category.

Wineries can contact Amazon to find out how they can sell on the marketplace, but third-party sellers are still restricted from selling alcohol. Amazon spokesperson Grace Chung confirmed this was still the case. "Amazon prohibits third-party sellers from listing any alcoholic beverages except for wine listed by pre-approved Amazon Wine wineries," she said.

Amazon explains its policies around Alcohol on this page.

Amazon's Examples of Permitted Listings for Alcohol:
Reminder: all listings and products must comply with all laws and regulations.

  • Food products that contain alcohol for flavor;
  • Wine and beer making kits and products that do not contain alcohol;
  • Alcohol-related accessories and products, including corkscrews, decanters and containers;
  • Alcohol-related memorabilia and collectibles that do not contain alcohol.

Examples of Prohibited Listings

  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Liquor licenses.

When asked if Amazon was using a consignment model with the wineries, Chung said, "We work with wineries to help them innovate and provide the best possible shopping experience for customers. We're excited to provide a marketplace where wineries of all sizes around the country can reach our millions of customers and sell their great selection of wines directly to customers."

Chung would not disclose the selling fees Amazon charged wineries - "It's generally our policy not to talk about terms," she said.

The Washington Post noted that Wine.com, anticipating Amazon's move into wine sales, had announced a new Wine.com "Marketplace" on Monday "designed to make it easier for consumers to purchase small-production wines domestic and imported."


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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