Local wine merchants not worried about Amazon incursion
November 13, 2012By Jenny Callison
Amazon.com’s recent announcement that it will start selling wine in North Carolina doesn’t seem to faze Wilmington wine purveyors.
“I don’t think, honestly, that Amazon’s sales will directly compete with ours,” said Chrissy Bonney, owner of Wilmington Wine, at 605 Castle Street. “There are already online wine stores, like Wine.com.”
The online retailing giant says that its new Amazon Wine store offers more than 1,000 wines from wineries around the U.S. at prices ranging from under $10 to more than $100 per bottle. Up to six bottles can be shipped for $10, according to Amazon’s news release. A person aged 21 or older must sign for the delivery, the company said.
“Whether it’s helping customers find a favorite varietal, shop for holiday pairings or expand their cellar with a special hand-crafted bottle, we’re excited to provide the right tools and information needed to guide them to the perfect wine,” said Peter Faricy, vice president of Amazon Marketplace, in the release. “We’re thrilled for wineries around the country to share their great collections of wines with our customers through the Amazon Wine Store.”
Bonney is skeptical. She thinks that short online descriptions of the available wines won’t be helpful to buyers who are unfamiliar with a particular wine.
“If you know exactly what you want, maybe buying through Amazon makes sense, but I don’t think Amazon is going to affect our sales,” said Pious Choi, owner of the Wine Sampler at 4107 Oleander Drive. He thinks most people will still want the personal experience of selecting wines.
“Wine is such a tangible product that most people want to be able to talk to somebody about it, see it and touch it,” he said.
North Carolina is one of just 12 states, plus Washington, D.C., that comprise Amazon Wine’s “ship and sip” market, but the online retailer said that it plans to expand to other states in the future. The initial market also includes California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Bonney cautioned that shipping costs can make online prices less of a bargain.
“Our prices are competitive,” she said.
Choi sees a benefit to his business in Amazon’s move into wine sales.
“Anything that helps get wine out to more people is positive for the wine industry,” he said. “It makes a statement: ‘look how much more important wine has become in our culture.’”