Inertia Beverage Group, which sells the REthink Engine wine distribution platform, is releasing REthink Compliance, an online direct-to-consumer wine shipping compliance service for free use by all of its clients.
"REthink Compliance allows wineries to sell and market wine direct to consumers and the trade," said Paul Mabray, CEO of Inertia Beverage Group. "We have cracked the Rosetta Stone that allows them to do business efficiently and effectively."
Mabray said that one of the biggest hurdles to performing direct-to-consumer wine sales in the 12 states where it is allowed is a mass of regulations and requirements that differ from state to state.
"There are over 7,000 rules," he said. "It's hard for a small business-owner to manage that."
Mabray said REthink Compliance, launched March 4, automatically checks wine orders, both at point of purchase and point of shipment, to ensure they meet regulations and contain an appropriate amount of wine. He said the solution also automatically enters information into the required state reports.
Starting April 2, REthink Compliance will be made available free of charge to non-Inertia clients, as well, Mabray said.
"A rising tide raises all ships," he stated. "It will give them more entry to the industry, which will gain us more customers."
According to an October 2007 research report by winery consulting firm Scion Advisors, e-commerce is the fastest growing channel for wine sales and offers gross profit margins as high as 75 percent. The report advises that compliance management is a key factor to ensuring success in the direct-to-consumer wine e-commerce channel.
"New compliance rules have added a layer of confusion which can quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction," states the report. "Imagine the consumer purchase experience: not able to buy wine on one winery website, yet permitted on another; wanting to buy three cases of their favorite wine for a party, but convoluted regulations restricting them to only two."
The report also states that differing rules for online sales by wineries and non-winery wine retailers makes the buying process even more confusing for consumers.
"This regulatory situation is not a friend of the winery," the report states. "However, ultimate success [for] individual wine businesses is dependent on managing compliance."
Mabray said that while REthink Compliance works more seamlessly with the REthink Engine platform, data from other platforms can also be input into the solution.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, please visit eWEEK.com's Retail Site.