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How to Start an Online Wine Business

Updated February 21, 2017

While the dotcom bubble burst long ago, it is still possible to make a decent living operating an online business. If you are passionate about fine wine, why not build your own online wine marketplace? While there are a number of complex legal issues and permits to obtain, an online wine business can be a very rewarding business enterprise.

Verse yourself in all applicable state and federal liquor laws that pertain to the sale and shipment of alcoholic beverages. While local and state laws vary greatly across the country, federal guidelines apply to all states. For example, one federal body you will need to deal with is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which will require you to pay taxes and fill out TTB forms. You will also need to obtain any state licenses or permits required in your specific geographic area.

Consider the various business models for an online wine business. Take a look at various wine retailers around the Internet that you would like to emulate. Some wine retailers specialise in rare bottles, while others offer weekly or daily specials on limited quantities of deeply discounted vintage wine. Another idea you may wish to incorporate is a Wine-of-the-Month club.

Consult a web designer several months before you would like to open your online store. This will give them time to build a website to your requirements. Make sure the checkout system has industry-standard security encryption or utilises secure shopping partners.

Build your inventory. You can obtain cases of wine from distributors, as well as direct from the wineries themselves. Your local Yellow Pages can provide you with some initial contact information.

Promote your website to increase traffic and sales. Use social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook and offer coupons, discounts and newsletter members-only deals. You should also draft a press release or hire someone to write one for you and disseminate it throughout various wine blogs, forums and other relevant websites.

Keep abreast of trends in the wine industry by reading publications like Wine Spectator and popular wine-related blogs such as Vinography.

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About the Author

Tucker Cummings is a freelance writer based in New England. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the Association of Professional Business Writers. Cummings is also a food writer and curates the blog, Brave New Breakfast.