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Imported Wines Fuel Growth For Online Retailer Wine.com

March 1, 2019

Amid the steady growth of e-commerce within the drinks industry, online retailer Wine.com saw revenues reach $130 million in 2018, with growth driven by imports. Sales of imported wine at the company rose by 22% to $60 million last year on a 16% volume gain, while domestic wine sales increased by 14% to $58 million. The remaining $12 million of sales was composed of wine gift sets, accessories, and chocolate.

“For years, our customers have been purchasing more imported wine than domestic,” says Michael Osborn, founder and vice president of merchandising at Wine.com. “But it’s always been neck-and-neck, and 2018 was no exception.” Wine.com’s average selling price a 750-ml. bottle of imported wine last year was $30.51, compared to $31.59 for domestic wines.

France, Italy, and Spain led the company’s import sales by both value and volume last year. Revenue drivers included red Bordeaux blends (up 41%), Champagne (up 27%), Sangiovese (up 8%), rosé table wine (up 35%), and Sauvignon Blanc (up 10%). By revenue, Wine.com’s most popular imports in 2018 were the 2015 Antinori Tignanello ($110 a 750-ml.), 2014 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia ($210), Château Pontet-Canet ($185), Dom Pérignon ($160), and Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut ($55).

“Millennial customers are the most substantial segment we serve,” says Osborn. The millennial demographic now comprises a third of Wine.com’s customers and are leading its revenue growth, with the segment up 33% last year. Millennials have been significant drivers of mobile sales at Wine.com, Osborn notes. Last year, $41 million worth of the site’s orders were placed through mobile browsers and the Wine.com app.

Overall, Wine.com sold more than 38,400 different wines last year, working with more than 250 wholesalers across the country. Along with its mobile app, which debuted in 2017, recent initiatives have included a live chat function, a membership program similar to Amazon Prime, and a marketing push including digital, TV, and direct mail components. Majority-owned by private equity firm Baker Capital, the company is aiming to roughly double its sales over the next four years.—Kevin Barry

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