How to Sell Wine Online

Selling wine online broadens a small winery's customer base.
Selling wine online broadens a small winery's customer base. (Image: Javier Pierini/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you own a small winery, selling your wines online can attract new customers who would never have found your business otherwise. Most small wineries service a small, local population of fans, because marketing to a wider population is beyond the budget and capabilities of a small operation. Selling online can be simple and cost effective, and it doesn't require a lot of work. It's a great way to broaden your business without investing extra time or resources.

Set up a website for the winery, if you are willing to keep it current and interesting. Work with a website designer; provide him with beautiful photos and descriptions of your wines. You can sell your wines directly to your customers. However, the cost and time expense to establish a website and maintain it is more than some small wineries care to tackle. Luckily, there are other less labor-intensive ways to sell your wine online.

Contact an online auction house or wine seller who takes care of most of the process for you in exchange for a fee. The obvious advantage to this is that you don't have to do much work. The company you hire advertises and deals with customer care issues, leaving you to ship the wine. The obvious disadvantage is that you must share the proceeds.

Choose a sales method. If you sell through a wine retailer, you can choose between two options. Sell outright, receiving payment when a sale is made. In this scenario, you act as a drop-ship wholesaler. The retailer makes the sale, and you ship the product. A cut of the proceeds goes to the retailer. Alternatively, sell at auction. The wine retailer arranges a private auction for your wine and you share net proceeds. Typically, there is a high minimum value for the wine to be sold at auction, and the marketer will take a high cut of the sales.

Evaluate your wine collection. Resellers and customers want to know variety, vintage, and bottle size and condition. Note all the information carefully and either submit to your partner reseller or post it on your website. Leave out bottles that aren't in good condition or wines that are in low demand.

Ship out the bottles when the orders come in. If you are selling through your own website, your system will notify you when there is a sale. If you are working with a reseller, the reseller will notify you, and you'll ship the order for the reseller. If you've chosen the route to sell directly to the distributor, you ship the wine straight to the distributor's warehouse, and they resell it for you.

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