The Perfect Website to Start Your Wine Business

Build the perfect website with our eCommerce solution for wineries.

wine bottles

Picking the perfect wine requires a delicate touch — so does building your wine business' website.

As a wine connoisseur, you have skills that could earn you a paycheck. Consider learning how to build a winery eCommerce website and you could be running your own at-home business in no time. All you need are the right tools and an entrepreneurial spirit.

How to Build a Wine eCommerce Website

In eCommerce there's a huge market for wine

Ecommerce is a business that experts are predicting will grow leaps and bounds over the next few years. There's plenty of room for your business in the online economy. There's also a huge market for wine. If you've ever been intrigued by the prospect of working from home and being your own boss, it's time you learn a thing or two about how to build a wine eCommerce website.

Choose a software platform that has aged well

Experience is an important part of choosing a business partner. As an online merchant, partnering with an experience vendor is absolutely critical for the success of your business. Ecommerce is a relatively young field, and an experienced partner means someone who has been there since the beginning.

Create a brand that appeals to your audience

Your brand consists of all the elements that make up your company's identity — from your name and your logo to your about page and website layout. Choose a site layout template that works for your brand. As you learn more about how to build a wine eCommerce website, you'll find that customers want to create a visceral connection with your company. The more you can inspire that through your branding elements, the more loyal your customers will become.

Add payment options for your customers

Shoppers are wary of fraud and identity theft. How do you establish immediate trust? Simple: add payment providers that shoppers are familiar with, like PayPal Checkout. Learning how to build a wine eCommerce website the right way means learning how to build trust with your customers.

Find the right shipping partners

Shipping wines across the country can be precarious. Use trustworthy shipping providers like FedEx and UPS to get the job done. (Hint: With a shopping cart software solution like Shift4Shop, these relationships are simple to manage through direct shipping integrations.)

Officially launch your store

Test all of your page elements to make sure they work correctly. Then, you'll have the opportunity to launch your store to the public. A good promotional discount can help encourage more sales. Make sure to reach out to your audience through social media and blogs to find customers. Learning how to build a wine eCommerce website is an ongoing process, so be patient and keep learning!

How to Sell Wine Online

how to sell wine

Want an idea of how to sell wine online? The wine industry is a very lucrative niche, and today's technology makes it simple to sell some ambrosial liquid and make a little money doing it. If you're passionate about wine, setting up your own successful online wine store is simple.

The first step is to do research. Where can you buy wines wholesale? Developing relationships with distributors will give you the opportunity to buy cheap and in bulk so you can sell your products to customers at a profit.

You'll also want a shopping cart that gives you plenty of customization and built-in modules to help you run a more efficient shop, regardless of your experience selling or your technical expertise. Most people who know how to sell wine online understand that your shopping cart will be a crucial part of the sales process, so it's important to do your legwork on this one. Here are four more steps to establishing your wine store on the web:


Research the competition

While you want to differentiate your brand from the rest of the market, you won't be able to do it well unless you see what else is out there. Take a look at the online wine stores that are doing well and make note of things you like from a customer's perspective. Be sure to look at the less successful stores as well so you can note what not to do. You'll learn how to sell wine online in no time.


Decide which wines you want to stock

While the marketing for your site is going to be the most important part of how well you sell, you'll want to take a look at the best-selling wine brands on the market for a little extra help. Stocking popular brands definitely increases the likelihood of better sales—unless your specialty is hard-to-find or foreign wines, in which case you'll want to research which ones fit best with your overall marketing plan. These are crucial steps in figuring out how to sell wine online.


Choose the right shopping cart

When you've done your research, create a comparison chart that includes each shopping cart you're evaluating. Does the shopping cart double as a customer relationship manager? Can you customize it for your business and for the wine industry? If you're just learning how to sell wine online, you'll want to find a shopping cart that gives you plenty of room to work with limited technical expertise. To launch a successful wine online store, look for features that allow you to create a Wine Club, offer discounted prices to customers and develop a "Wine of the Month" auto-ship subscription. Don't forget: when selling wine online, it is required by law to have an Age Disclaimer where customers confirm that the person receiving the wine is over 21 years old.


Promote Your Wine Store

Once your website has been designed and you have included all the details and photos of your wines, start promoting your online wine store. Try submitting your products to and to; these marketplaces will help you get traffic right away and start selling online. A “Wine of the Day” deal is a very effective promotional campaign, where a specific wine is offered at a heavily discounted price with the purpose of growing your customer base. In the same way, a group deal (where a specific number of customers need to order the wine to get it for a reduced price) can help your business go viral.

Payment Processing for Your Online Wine Business

When selling wine online, you’ll need a payment processor to accept credit card payments through your website. The Wine industry is considered a high-risk industry for payment providers. An industry can be considered high-risk for many reasons such as being highly regulated, selling high-value products, and more. Industries that require age verification for purchases are always high-risk.

With Shift4Shop, you don’t have to worry about finding a special high-risk payment provider. Shift4Shop is powered by Shift4, a leading payment processor that handles high-risk industries right out of the box. You can start accepting payments right away without needing to search for an appropriate payment solution.

Understanding Shipping and Delivery for Wine Products

Wine shipping laws

Alcohol laws vary from state to state. Some states permit wineries to ship directly to consumers, while others prohibit it entirely. Some states fall in the middle, allowing wine to be shipped to customers within the state but forbidding shipments from out-of-state. This means your ability to ship wine will be limited not just by the state your business resides in, but also the states where your customers are located.

Alcohol laws can also vary within a state, by county or even by city. Some states allow direct-to-consumer wine shipping to some counties but not others. These laws are extremely variable and they often change, so it's crucial that you exercise due diligence to make sure your business operates legally. You will not be able to accept orders from certain locations and will need to use restricted shipping to prevent customers from making orders you're not legally allowed to fulfill.

Other delivery restrictions

The US Postal Service (USPS) is legally forbidden from shipping alcohol. UPS and FedEx will ship wine, but you need to meet some requirements first:

  • You need to create an account with them (which you're likely to do as an eCommerce merchant anyway)
  • You'll need to sign an alcohol shipping agreement
  • You must meet their packaging requirements (preventing leaks or breakage)
  • You'll need to put a special label on every package disclosing that it contains alcohol
  • You must use the Adult Signature option (delivery requires a signature from a recipient at least 21 years of age)

The Adult Signature restriction is generally the one most likely to cause issues to you as a seller. With a signature requirement, carriers can't just drop off a package like they normally can, and the further restriction of an adult (21+) signature means younger adults (18-20) also can't sign for the package. Carriers will make 3 attempts to deliver a shipment before returning it, which can cause customer service issues. To avoid these problems, you may want to work out delivery times and places with your customers or let them choose to hold the shipment at the carrier location for pickup. Of course, you will also need age verification on your online store to ensure only legally-qualified customers can buy.

BlueCheck Advanced Age Verification

Since alcohol is an age-restricted product, you’ll need to enable an age verification on your online store to prevent fraud, reduce risk, and comply with FDA and payment processor regulations. By enabling BlueCheck’s advanced age verification on your online store, you’ll have access to a 3-tiered cascading verification system that uses 26 databases to compare customer data to, yielding a 92% automatic verification rate without any additional information. Their solution works as follows:

Age Verification

Here's how it works:

  • Your store starts the verification process by gathering customer information, usually through a checkout or sign-up forms, and submitting them to BlueCheck for analysis.
  • Immediately after receiving your customer’s data, BlueCheck will cross-reference it against billions of proprietary and commercial database records automatically to match and verify identity and age.
  • If necessary, BlueCheck will prompt your customer for other verification methods in the case that they aren’t able to match their personal information to one of their records. Alternate verification methods usually include the last 4 digits of a Social Security number or a form of photo ID, which is manually reviewed by BlueCheck in 3 to 5 minutes 24/7.
  • After BlueCheck has verified your customer’s identity and age, their system checks that it’s the appropriate age to purchase alcohol on your online store. Customers only need to go through this verification once, because BlueCheck will remember that they’ve been verified every time they return to make another purchase.

Successful Online Stores Selling Wine Online

Online Wine Retailers Thriving on Shift4Shop

Wine Club Software

Consider offering a Wine of the Month subscription box

Subscription-based businesses are becoming increasingly popular as customers grow to love the convenience of never having to reorder their needed items. Instead, they sign up for automatic billing, and the products they need arrive on a regular basis. Subscription boxes are also very popular, but work a little differently: rather than ordering specific products, the customer receives a scheduled package with one or more selected items for them to try.

Wine is perfect for the subscription box model. Wine enthusiasts are always looking for a new experience and a new vintage or brand to try. You can create a Wine of the Month subscription box to automatically send selected wine to customers on a monthly basis. This approach offers many benefits, including a consistent revenue stream for you, and a way to introduce customers to wines they'll love and want to reorder separately — resulting in more sales.

You can also increase your brand recognition by using custom packaging in your Wine of the Month subscription boxes to create an "unboxing" experience. Unboxing is a process in which a customer unpacks a shipped product and creates a video or photo gallery that shows others what it's like to receive a shipment from a certain business. Customers love seeing unique packaging, surprise bonuses, special inserts, and other fun things during an unboxing.

To set up a Wine of the Month subscription box, you'll need to create the box as a product in your online store and set it up to be purchasable with a subscription. You can accomplish this in minutes with our subscription software, an easy-to-use app that plugs right into your online store. You can configure Autoship to offer different subscription intervals as needed, so you can create a monthly box, opt for a "seasonal" box you send out quarterly, or any other method you choose.

How to Get Started Selling Wine Online

sell wine online

Once you've obtained all applicable licenses and permits, you need to build your eCommerce website with a platform that can handle the special requirements of an online wine store. Shift4Shop has everything you need, including integration with payment providers for high-risk merchants, simple-to-use age verification, connections with UPS and FedEx, and even a eCommerce ready wine website template. Sign up for an online store and check out all the features that make Shift4Shop the best shopping cart software for selling wine online.

For Any Industry and Any Business Model,
Shift4Shop is the eCommerce Solution You Need

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I sell wine online legally?
You can open an online wine store as long as you have all the required licenses and permits, register as an alcohol dealer for tax purposes, use age verification on your website to prevent purchase by underage customers, and comply with all laws and restrictions involving selling and shipping alcohol.
Do I need a license to sell wine online?
Yes, you'll need a winery, brewery, or distillery license from the state where your business resides. You may also need a business license from your city or state. In addition, you'll need licenses to ship to each state you plan on serving. You'll also need to be properly registered for tax purposes.
How to get a license for selling wine online
You can start by completing an Alcohol Dealer Registration from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (form TTB F 5630.5d). Other licenses must be obtained directly from your state and the states to which you plan to ship. You'll need to apply for these licenses individually, but you can find a directory of the proper authorities on the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau website.
How can I start an online wine business?
Starting an online wine business is similar to starting any business, in that you must name your company, determine how you're sourcing your products, and start building your brand. You'll also need to obtain all the licenses required for selling alcohol, and be sure to check the laws of each state because you may need additional forms of registration. Once you're up to speed on the legal requirements and you have your licenses, you're ready to start building your online store with Shift4Shop. Once your website is ready, it's time to launch!
What are the laws for selling wine online?
Online wine sales are regulated on the state, county, and local level. Your ability to legally sell and ship wine to a particular customer depends on your location and the customer's location. There are too many relevant laws to list here and many of them are likely to change in the near future. It's your responsibility to get familiar with all the applicable laws before you open your business, so if you have any trouble understanding these laws or finding current information, you should consider contacting an attorney.
How to start a wine club?
Wine clubs offer a great opportunity to both customers and merchants: buyers get to discover new and exciting wines, while sellers get long-term customers and the additional profits involved. To create a wine club, you need to make a subscription wine box available on your website so customers can receive select wines on a regular basis (usually monthly). You can also make an exclusive newsletter for wine club members and offer them other rewards, like points in your loyalty program, exclusive coupon codes, special pricing, and more.