The Grapevine

Amazon Wine Begins Local Delivery Service

September 1st, 2015

It’s only in a limited area – the Seattle market – but retail giant Amazon is rolling out delivery of beer, wine and liquor as part of its Prime Now delivery service. [level-members]

Clearly that’s not a direct threat for most of us, who are outside the Seattle area, but it does now seem a matter of “when” rather than “if” Amazon and others will begin encroaching on other markets.

It also seems likely that Amazon is less of a threat and less of an opportunity than others who are going down this road, like Drizly.

That’s because Amazon’s MO has been to operate entirely independently, setting up their own warehouses and distribution infrastructure. That means they can only work in sufficiently densely populated regions. Drizly and others are partnering with local businesses, giving them much greater potential geographic reach. At some point, you’ll either be with them or against them, and being against them could be difficult. Makes you wonder whether a community effort to offer delivery from any and all local wine shops/liquor stores would make sense. (Basically, sharing a driver.)

A few facts we found in the Forbes article about this.

  • There are more than 1,100 wineries selling directly to consumers via Amazon Wine.
  • Sellers on Amazon Wine set their own prices, but they have to stick to standard shipping options and rates.
  • Label recognition is available through the Amazon mobile app. (Not just for wine, either.)

The takeaway for local wine shop owners is to determine whether delivery in your local market is a competitive advantage. (Don’t dismiss the idea out of hand – it wasn’t that long ago that nobody thought about buying a TV online …) If it is, is there a way you can offer quick delivery on a revenue neutral basis? If not, can you offer prescheduled delivery? (Call your order in before 6pm Thursday and we’ll deliver it at your convenience over the weekend.)