Wine Ecommerce and Compliance: The Perfect Blend

Lizzy Connolly
November 9, 2021

Direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping compliance has many nuanced regulations that shippers must be aware of as they look to expand their business reach. But what happens when you’re trying to integrate your ecommerce approach? Is there a way to streamline your DtC wine shipping compliance when using ecommerce solutions like Shopify? 

The short answer is: yes! There are tools to enable DtC alcohol shippers to leverage compliance checks at the time of transaction. Wineries are rightfully investing in robust ecommerce platforms. DtC wine is a $3.7 billion market, with the pandemic fueling record growth in 2020 and all signs showing that growth continuing. 

But as powerful as Shopify and other platforms are, they aren’t custom built for the complexities of selling wine and other beverage alcohol. An ecommerce platform with a compliance integration will help ensure that DtC shipping compliance is maintained regardless of necessary compliance checks at point-of-sale. For example, Bloom provides everything a growing winery needs to sell online and manage their club memberships. Built on top of Shopify’s platform, Bloom enables an integrated connection to compliance. 

Why bother with wine ecommerce compliance?

As you look to expand your ecommerce business, there are several DtC shipping compliance considerations to account for: 

  • Get a license for the destination state
  • Only use trusted carriers that check IDs and collect signatures
  • Verify purchaser and recipient ages
  • Properly label boxes with notice of alcohol contents
  • Abide by per person volume limits
  • Agree to remit all applicable sales and excise taxes to the destination state
  • File regular reports detailing all their shipments
  • Only ship brand/labels that are produced or owned by the shipper

Before a shipper might even think about ecommerce best practices, remember that each of these areas of DtC shipping compliance comes with its own special considerations that can and do vary by state. Failure to pay attention to those details could lead to non-compliance issues, such as cease and desist letters, fines and monetary penalties, and revoked licenses or non-renewed licenses. Additionally, the loss of one license could affect others, such as a production license. 

What are the benefits of an integrated solution?

Integrating a robust ecommerce platform that syncs with an agile compliance solution helps wineries and producers ensure that everything from membership clubs, to subscription models and even the overall ability to sell and ship direct-to-consumer are strengthened. 

For example, let’s say that a winery is beginning to ship DtC into a new state. All licensing is in place and it seems like all compliance considerations have been accounted for. But what if a customer lives in a dry community, where alcohol cannot be shipped? Or maybe they ordered more than the destination state’s volume limits. The winery needs an integrated real-time compliance solution with compliance checks to catch those issues before a sale is finalized. Essentially, it makes the winery’s ecommerce engine all the more powerful. It is better to decline a non-compliant sale at the point-of-sale (POS) rather than disappoint the customer after the fact should you realize that their order cannot be legally fulfilled. Additionally, companies can reduce the extra burden placed on customer support by avoiding refunding orders. 

Digital purchases make it more difficult for wineries and producers to track compliance rules – especially when they are updated more frequently. However, those organizations can have immediate confirmation at the time of checkout whether or not an order complies with the destination state’s rules and regulations. It’s important to make the most of every DtC opportunity, which is why the integration of your business’ ecommerce with compliance is so valuable. 

Having real-time compliance checks through an integrated ecommerce site, such as Shopify is an important step to meeting the ever-evolving complex requirements in DtC shipping. A centralized cloud-based platform integrated with major DtC ecommerce, POS and fulfillment systems will give you the peace of mind that you’re mitigating risk and staying compliant.

Take Action

Ready to take your DtC shipping to the next level? ShipCompliant Direct can help with your DtC compliance processes, from license management to production requirements.

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Lizzy Connolly

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