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Denise Keller

Successfully Selling Wine Online: What You Need to Know

Feb 01 2011, 11:47 AM by

For a winery, the ability to leverage the internet to sell your products is like a dream come true. The online realm removes the limitations of physical boundaries, giving you access to a global audience regardless of where your store or distribution center may be located. With a list of interested prospects, you have the opportunity to engage your target audience with email marketing offers that allow them to obtain great products and give your business the ability to prosper.

While the internet has given us the ultimate global marketplace, selling some items online can be a risky business. This is especially true for wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages. While the online space is unregulated for the most part, there are still rules that must be followed.

In this post we'll discuss the critical factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to successfully sell wine via the internet.
State and Local Shipping Laws
If you want to sell wine products online, familiarity with the laws that are associated with the distribution of alcoholic beverages is crucial. Sure, the goal is to sell your products over the internet, but that does not exempt you from the laws established in the cities, counties and states you will be shipping your products to. Some jurisdictions have actually prohibited the shipment of alcoholic beverages so this is a factor that cannot be overlooked; the laws vary greatly among each city, county and state. Understanding each jurisdiction's shipping regulations is imperative before getting started.
Age Restrictions
Age restrictions make selling wine online a complex proposition. In the real world you have the luxury to ask consumers for their ID before making a sale. That luxury does not accompany you to the digital marketplace. To make matters worse, a minor could obtain a parent’s or adult’s credit card and easily purchase alcoholic beverages from a website. This puts wineries in a tough situation where they could actually lose sales by restricting access to their products. The best thing you can do here is study leading online wine retailers such as AmericanWinery.com to observe the measures they put in place to ensure their products are not sold to minors.
The Code of Practice
The internet is a domain where just about anything goes. For this reason, a wine seller could technically employ whatever advertising tactics they feel are necessary to attract customers to their products, and have a much better chance of getting away with it. Be that as it may, there are still rules and regulations enacted by the government that must be adhered to when selling alcohol online, many of which have been adopted by the collective wine industry. If you want to stay out of hot water with the authorities, before beginning your next email winery campaign take note of the don’ts of selling wine online:
DON'T
...use wine to promote illegal activity of any sort.
...suggest that inebriation or excessive drinking is amusing.
...portray alcohol consumption as a solution for problem solving.
...suggest that wine is essential to social popularity and acceptance.
...suggest that wine is vital to success or performance enhancement.

The rules and regulations are quite explicit, and may come into play when developing your advertising content. For example, sending your email subscribers an offer complete with an image of younger adults drinking and having a good time may not seem like a big deal, but it could result in legal ramifications if authorities interpret that image as being targeted at teenagers.

Making the decision to move your winery online can give you access to an audience you would never be able to reach otherwise. As long as you educate yourself on the do's and don'ts of selling alcoholic beverages from the internet, you will be able to market your products effectively and reap the legal rewards.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Winery Email Marketing

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Comments

Jeremy Gilbert

Aug 17 2011, 04:23 AM

Ever since Al Gore invented the internet, buying and selling goods and services has never been easier. Couch potatoes do not need to invest in commercial property or to utilize garage sales to sell their junk. All they need to do is login, find the right website, and presto, they've got a buyer. Perhaps the internet is a great place to sell one's online wine collection as well. If so, it is important to understand the business of selling wine online.

Jeremy Gilbert

Aug 24 2011, 05:27 AM

The internet has made it possible to purchase almost anything online. As with any web-based purchase, it is important to do your research and confirm the legitimacy of the website. There are plenty of customer review sites that will provide information about various web-based wineries. This is a good place for first time buyers to start, as they will be able to determine sites that have established good reputations for service and quality.

VinoShopping

Apr 22 2013, 03:54 PM

It needs you to devote some time, choose your products wisely, take care of the contents, be different from your competitors, make things very simple, invest some money in marketing, be agile and trust in the professionals!

Vino Garnacha

Jul 04 2013, 03:22 PM

"Making the decision to move your winery online can give you access to an audience you would never be able to reach otherwise" Totally agree!! CAN give you the access, but you need to do your best to get it...