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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why does Amazon hate us?

Lots of press is spinning over the Amazon wine sales future. But, if everyone takes a moment, deep breath, and realizes that there are already 100 other websites to buy wine from, we might realize that the proper response is: so what, and who cares?
Amazon is a press-spinning whirlwind, eternally full of bluster and pointless press releases about this and that trivial thing. I spoke with the Amazon wine director in Sacramento when we were pouring for our medals in early July. He liked our wines and invited us to join. He communicated with me personally at one point - a decent thing to do. So, why aren't we on Amazon?
1. Amazon requires a $420 fee for each label they carry, which is to say each varietal each year. As a small winery in a bad economy, that, my friends, is a huge amount of up front cash to be renewed each year, each varietal.
2. Early on we were informed that Amazon would be paying a little less that wholesale. What? What! Less than FOB wholesale - what the hell. We do not have a distributor. We are independent and self-distributing. I would be curious to know what sort of price structuring Amazon would stick us with.
3. Rumors swirl as to questionable past dealings with organizer Mr. Gelvin. These are probably open to interpretation and apocryphal - but some say he is not the wonderful man he seems to be.
4. For us, go to They skim a whole 10%, that is it, just a processing charge. Their infrastructure was set up in such a way that even a bunch of computer illiterates (such as ourselves) were up an running in one hour. They are fair, equitable, and the nice lady called us three times when we signed up to see if everything was o.k. They do not warehouse - we ship the package ourselves. But, they do not have the marketing muscle that Amazon has, and this is their (and our) hill to climb, but given the nature of the competition for us and them, we will stay small and honest to the end. No thanks Amazon.

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