Wines are a popular alcoholic beverage with consistently high annual consumption and sales. According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine, global wine consumption reached 236 million hectoliters (mhl) in 2021.1 And with annual sales exceeding $400 billion in the same year, it’s clear that there’s a significant opportunity for sellers in this sector.2
While the wine industry has always been associated with in-person tasting events and physical sales, a shift has occurred in the past two years. Due to COVID-19 and a worldwide boost in online shopping, a significant chunk of wine sales has become digital. In fact, online stores were responsible for 55% of sales growth in 2020.3
Consequently, if you’re considering a pivot to wine e-commerce, there might be no better time than now. This article explains how to sell wholesale wine online, benefits you stand to gain, and the permits needed to get started. Finally, you’ll learn how to sell wine online to millions of global customers on Alibaba.com.
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The global wine industry is a prestigious one, valued at over $513.8 billion with a high probability of upward growth. The pandemic, however, influenced wine consumer behavior, creating a shift in sales from traditional channels to e-commerce channels — bringing about exponential growth.4
Online wine sellers reported that the pandemic caused a threefold increase in sales, which continued long after the pandemic. Wine lovers believe that there is no turning back as consumers change the way they order wine. Wine dollar sales also increased by 16.8% in 2021.4 Forbes notes that the reason for this increase was subtle steps on the part of wine manufacturers and distributors to break into the e-commerce space.5
Another research by Nielsen revealed that alcohol e-commerce doubled in 2021 from 2020 figures even after pandemic restrictions were relaxed. The research also noted that wine sales made up 70% of the total alcohol online sales in that year.6
The wine industry has maintained its leading position in the alcohol category for over 7,000 years and is often described as very attractive. From Chardonnays to Cabernets, it’s less about the bottle and more about the people it is shared with. It's the incredible diversity of flavors and varieties available that perfectly compliments every meal and mood.
The wine industry is one of the few industries that still focuses on the pleasure that it gives to customers. While the wine industry started in Europe, it has transcended to other parts of the world, the most recent being China. The Asian country has not only prioritized the production of grape wine and fruit wine but also yellow rice wine. Italy now leads the world's wine and exotic wine industries. However, Australia, France, Spain, and several other countries continue to experience significant market position.
This shows that no single market has a monopoly on wine production and distribution. No matter your location, you can access and sell wines in large quantities to a global audience. Global e-commerce platforms like Alibaba.com have made that much easier.
Consumers have become more invested in accessibility. The 42% growth in the e-commerce alcohol market is testament to this.7 Wines have experienced the highest growth in the segment, and International Wine & Spirit research projects that the growth could lead to a $40 billion online wine industry by 2024.8 Here are six benefits of selling wine wholesale online:
The pandemic forced people to stay home, creating a temporary halt in social activities. This in turn gave rise to changes in consumption patterns of alcoholic beverages, especially wine. Consumers embraced online direct-to-consumer (DTC) and retail sales, and the digital wine industry is only set to grow bigger.
Online wine wholesale presents an amazing opportunity for wine sellers to reach a global audience. There's no need to host exotic wine-tasting events or physical luncheons. Global e-commerce platforms make this happen speedily, offering a standard trade channel.
Unlike traditional wine sales channels, switching between sales channels with online sales is swift and easy with minimal cost. This would come in handy as a wholesaler as you could easily target a different demographic with different selling platforms and enjoy more visibility.
Wholesaling wines online also presents your business with the opportunity to build a custom sales channel and grow along with your customers steadily. As opposed to traditional warehouse sales or pop-up sales, wholesalers of wine who are participating in online sales can choose their customers and position themselves in the exact way that they would want to be perceived.
There’s enough time to bond with your customers and build lasting relationships with your customers as every activity is automated, from customer purchase to delivery. This is very important as data has shown that the current wine-consuming populace is hardly loyal to a particular brand.
Online selling platforms make it easier to gain access to customer sales and demographic information. Demographic information is especially useful in analyzing target audience needs while sales info will be vital for planning.
As a wholesaler, you can easily set up shop and allow your products to sell themselves. All you would need to do is constantly monitor your online store analytics to understand your customers and identify ways that you can improve your service.
Every country has its own rules governing online sales and exports of wine. For example, Pennsylvania, a state of the United States of America, only granted its first DTC wine shipping permit in 2016. Some countries only allow wineries to engage in DTC shipping. In other locations, retailers can also partake in DTC shipping.
Licenses like the free sale advice statement for product registration are peculiar to China, Costa Rica, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Panama, Paraguay, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The EU VI-1 Pro-forma is peculiar to countries in the European Union and required from all wine wholesalers who want to export wine to the European Union.
However, there are still some basic licenses that most wine exporters and online wine sellers are required to have. These are: the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Permit (TTB), winery license, wine export license, export label registration, shipper’s license, and direct shipping agreements.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s permit (TTB) is a form of alcohol dealer registration and it is required for all wine wholesalers. The TTB specifies the business and tax information, as well as their dealership class. This registration is necessary before the commencement of online sales. The TTB permit is also referred to as the wholesaler’s basic permit in certain regions.
Wines fall under food and beverages. It is therefore important to regulate their production and distribution to protect public health. The winery license grants permission to wine manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to produce and distribute wines. Selling wines without a winery license is illegal and is a chargeable offense.
A wine export license permits wine wholesalers to export wine. In some locations, this is the liquor license, and it is required even by non-manufacturers of wine. It is the wine export permit and it is required for exporting wines over 100 liters.
Several markets have mandatory labeling requirements for wine exports. This is the information that should be disclosed on the label of the wine. They are as follows; brand name, country of origin, alcohol content, volume, pregnancy warning, name and address of producer/distributor, declaration of standard drinks, lot identification, and allergen declaration.
A shipper’s license permits wholesalers to ship their wines to different markets. Wine wholesalers need to get a shipper’s license for each state or country they plan to ship wine. It proves that they are an authorized wine seller. It also helps your business to reach more customers.
Wine wholesalers involved in direct-to-customer shipping of wine need to maintain a direct shipping agreement with all of their wine carriers. This works in the same way as a shipper’s license, permitting you to ship to other markets.
These are only the basic prerequisites for launching an online wholesale wine business. You must still familiarize yourself with the laws, specifications, and standards that apply to the country to which you plan to export wine. Specific regulations also apply to shipment modes and packaging as well. For instance, to send wine outside of the country, US wine wholesalers must first have FedEx approval. The beneficiary must also be a legal business entity with the necessary permits.
Since e-commerce wine sales are gaining traction, it would be smart to actively transition with the market. As usual, Alibaba.com has made headway in ensuring that its platform is conducive for wine wholesalers. Wine wholesalers on Alibaba.com enjoy a non-stop virtual trade show stand. Elite wineries use Alibaba.com as their distribution channels, including a 175-year-old Italian spirits company that started its e-commerce journey with Alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com provides a digital storefront for your business and complements your business’s digital strategies. The platform has prebuilt storefront templates that can easily be customized to suit your brand, making your business more discoverable to your customers. The storefront is a total alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts, allowing wholesalers to reap the benefits of the B2B marketplace.
The global platform provides all of the resources that businesses would need to thrive, focusing on building a self-sustaining ecosystem of dedicated sellers and intentional buyers. Alibaba.com is a combination of a data-driven network of manufacturers, wholesalers, logistic companies, and service providers.
Alibaba.com fosters smart business, a tech-enabled model that allows businesses to adapt to changing market conditions and trends.
Setting up a wine shop on Alibaba.com is free, fast, and easy, with a storefront that mimics the traditional pop shop. Here are four easy steps to start selling wine on Alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com sets you up with the right support team for your proposed niche. However, since it is a B2B platform, sellers are required to have a business license in their local country. If you have a license, all you have to do is set up a seller account by entering your basic personal details (name, email, country, phone number, and company name).
The platform would collect additional information, including the main category for your business—wine falls under the food & beverage category. Enter the product name and keyword, and select the product category, alongside a compelling description of the product.
In this case, the product is wine. Each wine in your sales portfolio will be given a model number, brand name, use case, and other information that will help customers easily know what the wine is about.
In this section, you must select the payment method(s) that are preferable for your business and which customers will use to pay for your products. The more payment methods you provide to customers, the more likely you are to secure international customers. You would also need to specify the minimum order quantity and the price per product or lot.
Reach millions of B2B buyers globally with the world’s largest e-commerce platform, Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com currently has more than 40,000,000 active buyers from over 200 countries, allowing wholesalers to progress beyond their domestic markets.
You can take advantage of the platform’s built-in inquiry feature to communicate with prospective wine buyers. You can also host online warehouse live streams and virtual reality showrooms to provide live experiences for your audience.
Alibaba.com is dedicated to providing sellers with outstanding value and helping them realize the benefits of economies of scale through its global platform. This secure marketplace has been tested and is trusted by millions of businesses around the world.
Selling wines wholesale online can be challenging, but Alibaba.com makes it all easy with streamlined processes that guide wholesalers from account creation to your first sale. Start your journey here! Open a seller account today.