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Wine Spectator: eBay Decides It’s Time To Sell Wine

May 9, 2016

EBay has become the latest e-commerce business to launch a major wine initiative, announcing eBay Wine and its 10,000 selections in recent days. It’s joining an increasingly crowded field—dozens of startups have scrambled for a piece of the online beverage-sales pie in the past few years, a dramatic change from 15 to 20 years ago, when some large online retailers, eBay included, tried wine and failed. Amazon, which experimented with wine twice, finally launched a wine site based on direct shipping from wineries and importers in 2012. Will eBay’s ambitious new program, a partnership with retailer network platform Drync, prove it’s finally ready to take on the tricky alcohol market?

“The genesis is really from the market dynamics,” eBay divisional marketing manager of home and garden Alyssa Steele told Wine Spectator. With the U.S. wine market at $32 billion, “there’s a huge opportunity, and eBay’s wine destination fills a gap in the industry.” Direct-to-consumer shipping, which will facilitate much of the eBay-Drync model, grew 8.5% in 2015 over 2014, according to Nielsen.

EBay has looked at wine before. In 1999, the company acquired auction house Butterfield & Butterfield—a major fine-wine dealer—only to abandon alcohol sales altogether later that same year. (It sold Butterfields in 2002 but later began allowing wine sales on a retailer-by-retailer basis.) eBay Wine Version 2016 does not involve another auction house, nor does it rely on direct sales from wineries and importers, like Amazon. Instead, eBay has tapped into Drync’s network of about 80 retailers nationwide.

“EBay came to us and said, ‘Hey, we’re getting more serious about wine. We think now is the time for a sort of mainstream broad adoption of wine e-commerce,’” explained Brad Rosen, founder and CEO of Drync. “‘And by the way, we’ve got 162 million customers, so we think we can move the needle.’ EBay thinks a large percentage of them will be interested in wine.” Wine Spectator has the full story.

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