With more people spending their time within the confines of their houses due to the global Pandemic, the wine business has been forced to make its way to reach the customers. With the hype of ecommerce, a significant switch has been observed where in-store wine pickup has been replaced by online wine selling. But how to sell wine online, and is it legal to sell alcohol and wine online?
The demand for wine and liquors has increased significantly, whether due to the general melancholy caused by the global pandemic that restricted people from going out or an unmatched work-life imbalance. So, starting an online wine store or shop can be a lucrative way to introduce wine to people.
Suppose you are interested in the business and want to start a wine ecommerce store. In that case, the step-by-step guide will help you through everything required to sell wine and liquors online, including getting the necessary permissions to commence and then marketing the wine online.
Why Start Wine Ecommerce Business?
The alcohol industry has emerged as the most rewarding, profitable, and high-margin industry. Despite a significant drop in alcohol sales during the pandemic and lockdowns, the industry has returned as the services were restored.
It won’t be exaggerated to state that in the post-COVID era, businesses that have implemented an on-demand product delivery model will keep thriving. The unique approach to tapping the demand for liquors and wines using the wine ecommerce is what sets the businesses apart.
Whether you have a wine store or vineyard or planning to start a wine business, it is the right time to monetize on the massive demand of the wine market. So, you must learn how to start a wine business online.
With that said, starting an online wine store demands different complex regulatory and legal requirements. Even if you have a wine store, you can’t deliver them directly to customers as different rules and regulations govern it. Once you comply with different regulations and rules, you can establish your online business and start selling them online to customers legally authorized to buy alcohol in your state.
Understanding the Wine Selling Laws and Regulatory
Before you jump into the section to learn how to start an online wine business, you must first check the laws and regulations on how to sell wine online legally. As mentioned, people who want to sell wine businesses need to secure a couple of permits and licenses, including:
The TTB or The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau permit is necessary. It is necessary to monitor the company, its tax details, and the dealer’s class and subclass.
Secure the state-issued retailer’s license and winemaking permit
Before selling wine online, you need to get approval and a license from TBB.
Depending upon the states you want to ship your wine, you have to get a shipper’s license. The license will allow you to ship alcoholic beverages across the states.
Besides, you also need to secure the direct-to-consumer agreement or DTC agreement as it is necessary to ship the wine outside your state or country.
The fee required to obtain these licenses and permits vary depending on the state where you reside. You need to understand that some states don’t accept DTC wine shipments, and you can’t ship wine to those states. Moreover, some states only allow a winery to ship wines to consumers directly with certain alcohol limits. Retailer alcohol shipping is restricted in some states because of the alcohol restrictions and stringent wine limitations.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Sell Wine Online
Selecting a Niche
Since wine is multifaceted, you have multiple specialty areas to choose from. Business owners need to find the right niche in the guide on how to sell wine online because it will support them in different ways.
It helps them to develop knowledge and skills in the areas of expertise
It enables them to know who they are attempting to reach
Developing a brand that speaks to the targeted audiences directly
Focus on sales & marketing strategies for customers who are interested in the wine you sell
It is crucial to comprehend the types of consumers because you must know how to promote and market your wine. You must decide who your targeted consumers are, restaurants, wholesale, or hotel chains. Before you learn how to start a wine business online, you must understand that there are multiple niches to choose from. Some of the niches you may focus on are:
Wines from Region
Customer motivation like food pairing, casual drinkers, and investments
Wines under $20 or over $200 and more
In many states of America, sparkling wine is becoming quite popular, taking over casual beer. It has become the most popular alcoholic beverage in America. So, it becomes essential for you to investigate and find the right niche and know can you sell wine online.
Source of Suppliers
If you don’t have a winery to produce your wine, you must procure the products from suppliers. A French wine trader will supply the required wine to those who want to start a business. Some wholesale distributors can be a great source to buy wine at affordable rates. Locating the best stock provider or supplier can significantly differentiate between a distressful experience and a smooth-running, lucrative business. So, before you know how to sell wine online, it is essential to know the factors to consider when choosing a supplier.
Check if the trader or supplier is reliable
What are the types of wines they deal in?
What is the pricing policy, and how much profit are they making?
How quickly are they delivering the stock?
Are they supportive and share advice and suggestions with customers?
How difficult are they to deal with?
You have to ask these questions before choosing a wine vendor. You must do market research and check wine vendors' expertise, experience, and service quality before dealing with them. If possible, seek suggestions and recommendations and check reviews of different vendors to find the right one to deal with.
Building Your Brand
Selling wine has excellent potential, but the market is flooded with many merchants and dealers. So, how to sell wine legally online and stand apart? When the stores and supermarkets give easy access to multiple wine labels and brands, how your targeted customers will recognize you and your wine brand?
So, you need strategies to make your brand stand out from others. The wine flavor is essential, but so is the pricing and value you use for the wine ecommerce. Consumers prefer choosing wine based on how captivating the bottle is, while others choose it based on their experiences and flavors.
The term brand is often associated with the company’s website or logo, but it has a broader scope. The brand is how consumers see the business and the sum of everything they do, from flavors to colors used for marketing materials to how clients are treated when seeking assistance.
You must decide what your business stands for when selecting to showcase your brand. Start by highlighting the core beliefs. Multiple aspects determine the wine’s value. Multiple factors like life cycle, wine’s origin, and storage must be summed up in a single term, provenance. Most wine buyers emphasize provenance, and the brand that focuses on all these factors is the biggest bet.
Creating an Online Store to Sell Wine
The guide on how to start a wine business online won’t be complete without sharing the ideas to set up an online store. There are two options:
You may create the online store manually
Use different platforms to build your wine ecommerce website
Custom-built websites offer greater flexibility but are quite time-consuming and expensive than ecommerce channels. There are ecommerce platforms that allow using the customization feature while designing a website.
Some of the ecommerce platforms are free and affordable, with limitless scalability, exceptional customer support, a theme library, and more. They also have ultimate inventory management service, plug-ins, and features for SEO purposes. For dropshipping, you may work with other platforms suitable for medium to small businesses and larger enterprises regarding pricing and capability.
Unlike traditional wine shops and stores, where consumers visit in person, check the bottles and ask questions and buy, the consumers of your online store will rely significantly on the product descriptions and images. So, the guide on how to sell wine online also includes some expert tips to help you with product descriptions, images, and payment choices.
Product Images – Ensure capturing product images that highlight the bottle's aesthetic values. You must use essential backdrops and white spaces to highlight the important features. For an impactful impression, you must choose to integrate images in settings for context, like bottles on a table near some delectable foods.
Product Description – The description clarifies many things like the taste of the wine etc. So, you must include tasting notes, and based on the description, consumers will make their purchasing decision.
Payment Choices – Online frauds and identity theft are the two prime reasons that prevent consumers from shopping online. So, can you sell wine online right away without building trust? No, it is not possible. You must include different payment choices for consumers like PayPal, Amazon Pay, and other wallets on checkout.
Packaging and Shipments
Since wine bottles are fragile and weighty, a wine dealer must decide on a perfect packaging system to ensure the bottle reaches the consumers safely. Burned bridges and broken bottles are the resultants of improper and unprofessional packaging. As a part of the guide on how to start a wine business online, here are some essential tips on packaging and shipments.
Ensure buying the exclusive packaging designed to ship fragile items like wine bottles. The exterior of the packaging must have the symbol of the fragile item so that the courier partner handles it with care.
Regarding shipping, you must prefer choosing the reputed and reliable shipping companies that serve your niche and expert in shipping wines. Not only nationwide, but you must also focus on expanding your wine ecommerce sales to cover the global wine market, as it will help develop your brand and maximize the revenue. Below is the list of things you need to remember before starting an online wine business.
Confirm if the product can be shipped to the states or nations. You must know the standard packaging limitation for domestic and international shipments, and the size and weight must ensure that you follow the right shipping policies for each state and country where you are shipping the alcoholic beverage.
Since international shipments will undergo different processing, pass multiple locations, and be transported on different vehicles, you must focus on packaging design. You also need to be cautious with cross-border shipments to reduce the chance of damage.
To export wine, you must have all the necessary certifications and documents. Ensure that you have them all before you start selling wine across the world.
Marketing and Promoting the Business
If you want your wine ecommerce business to stay longer in the market, you have to plan a marketing strategy. Every wine business is different, and you must take unique approaches than your competitors to stay ahead. You can choose the best marketing strategy according to your timeframe and budget. You must ensure combining both paid and free marketing strategies.
Creating attractive social media profiles and regularly posting creative ads on the platform can be affordable and unique ways to promote your online wine store. The types of creative ads you share are decided by your values, brand, and the things your target buyers enjoy.
How to start a wine business online with SEO? You are required to use unique techniques and approaches to heighten the SEO. You need to use content marketing strategy, white hat SEO techniques, and other optimization methods to increase your site’s ranking.
Paid promotion and email marketing are two paid marketing strategies that will increase site visitors and boost online sales efficiently.
The most predictable, lucrative, and profitable online business strategy is to start a wine ecommerce business. There is a significant demand within the wine industry, creating many opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.
To start an online wine business, you need to focus on your target audience and the types of wine they prefer buying. It helps you to stay competitive even in the crowded marketplace and recognize new chances and opportunities before they get common.
How to sell wine online? Hopefully, it is no longer an issue for entrepreneurs planning to start an online wine business. So, if you plan to start an online wine business, use the above guide to commence the business successfully and start making money from the lucrative business model.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Make Money Selling Wine Online?
During the global pandemic, when the world was under lockdown, the concept of wine ecommerce has globally accepted, and the business model registered a massive boost post-COVID. According to the Global Wine Ecommerce Report, the online wine business has grown at a rapid pace in several world markets. So, many business owners have ventured into the industry and launched their online wine stores. So, if you are also interested in opening an online wine store, read the comprehensive guide on how to sell wine online and the legal requirements to open an online store to sell wine legally in the US.
How Much Money Can You Make Selling Wine?
According to Global Wine Ecommerce Report, the average money a wine store earns from its online store is around 6000 to 8000 USD. However, the average income earned by an online wine store depends on the type of wine, stock, and ranges. The standard wine store earns $6K to $8K.
However, the price range can increase if the range and types of wine are of a high standard. The profit margins of online stores are high when they sell imported alcoholic beverages or wine. The report also shares that the profit margin of an online wine store ranges between 80% and 85%, and it is even more when the store sells imported alcoholic beverages and wines.
How to Start a Wine Brand Online?
The guide on how to start a wine business online shares all the details on how to start a wine brand and sell wine under the brand online. If you want to start a wine brand, there are certain things that you have to keep in mind. To start a wine brand online, you must plan the business structure carefully and understand the laws and compliances. Now you must find a reliable winery or winemaker from where you can procure the wine. Besides, you also need to decide on the USP and niche, create the elements for branding, decide on the location to sell the wine and market, and promote your brand online.