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Amazon.com Re-Enters the Wine Game

In August, I asked in a post found here, “When is Amazon.com going to tilt the wine industry?  It might only be a matter of time.”

Sure enough, according to an article today found at Ft.com the answer is “now.” 

Kudos to the Financial Times for doing some creative sleuthing and looking at job postings, of all things.  Of course, I did the same and found the following:

From the Amazon.com job posting:

The Sr. Buyer is responsible for the acquisition of massive new product selection, as Specialty Foods is an emerging segment and the Sr. Buyer will work to build out entirely new selection from the ground up.  Responsibilities will include sourcing leads, defining and tuning a leads qualification process, and calling on vendors directly, both from our Seattle corporate offices and in the field.  Sr. Buyers must demonstrate a deep and broad experience with the Wine segment, as well as demonstrated ability in Buying.  Key areas of responsibility include among others: negotiation of agreements with a wide set of vendors, inventory planning, catalog management, supply chain and logistics Best Practices, market research and a strong knowledge of current market trends, persuasive selling of the platform and the value proposition of Amazon.com’s Consumables offering.

As I elaborated in my post in August, there is a ripe opportunity to source wines directly from the wineries and act as the e-commerce engine for e-commerce retail sales, but the greater opportunity, in my estimation, is Amazon’s infrastructure capability and their distribution centers across the country.  Should they choose, Amazon.com could use their 13 + distribution centers and turn into, immediately, one of the most sophisticated wine distributors in the country powering thousands of vertical wine web sites.

I have often used the analogy that online wine e-commerce is, present day, akin to selling books online circa 1996.  Amazon.com apparently thinks so, too, seeing as how they pioneered the space.

Do you think it would be that hard for Amazon.com to file permits in each of the states in which they have a distribution center to cordon an area for dedicated wine storage as a distributor?  Me neither.

Using Amazon.com technology, I could open up an e-commerce store, draw from Amazon.com inventory, use Amazon.com logistics to ship to my customers and run a vertically focused online wine retail business.

Frankly speaking, Amazon.com could do the same and sell directly to bricks and mortar businesses, as well—a just-in-time wine distributor.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds because it would appear that the initial foray might be strictly retail for Amazon.com proper, selling to a consumer, but I would be surprised if they did not have the eye on a larger prize.

For more reading:

New York Times Article from April of last year on their infrastructure

Ft.com from March 5th

Site on Amazon.com fulfillment services

My original post dated August 16, 2007



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Posted in, Wine: A Business Doing Pleasure. Permalink | Comments (2) |


Comments

On 03/05, Taster B wrote:

Interesting…Wonder if Crushpad will look into leveraging an Amazon wine distribution channel.

On 03/06, Samantha Evans wrote:

Kudos for that serious detective work in finding the job posting! Amazon has been talking about middleman distribution (even production) for a long time and it’ll be interesting to see how they move forward. Of course it has huge implications for the wine industry just like everything else. Right now though I have to give props to Wine.Woot (http://wine.woot.com/) for buying wine online. Amazon of course can do probably just about everything better than Wine.Woot but I doubt they could match the wicked humor of the awesome Wine.Woot community.
Just my two cents!


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