The giant of online retailing, Amazon, has just announced that in the US it will be adding wine retailing to its increasingly wide range of activities – despite the notoriously complicated set of state-by-state restrictions and regulations that has plagued wines sales in the US. In an article in yesterday's FT Chris Adams of Sherry-Lehmann, New York, is quoted as observing, "It is a nod to the fact that the laws of the land are changing and that open markets will win the day."
Applications are expected to be overwhelming for the post of senior wine buyer who will be charged with building an entirely new but "massive" portfolio – surely one of the most exciting jobs around.
Previous venturers into this difficult territory such as wine.com have been plagued with financial crises. Currently, despite the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that eased shipping restrictions, this pioneering online wine retailer can ship wine to customers in only 26 states in the union, and has to use 10 different warehouses which have to be supplied by state-licensed wholesalers, thus adding an unsatisfactory tier to its pricing structure.
Presumably Amazon is planning a much more powerful sales and distribution system. Let us hope that individual wine retailers survive the Amazon onslaught better than booksellers have.