Amazon made headlines in 2017 with its 13.7 billion dollar purchase of the grocery store Whole Foods. While the acquisition has already started affecting consumers across the board, one impact wine drinkers received only recently landed on New Years Eve. As of December 31st, the Amazon owned website Wine.Woot has been shut down.
Wine.Woot, purchased by Amazon in 2010, was one in the family of Woot websites where a wine producer could post offers and discounts, marketing directly to the consumer. It had an active community of users, it was a great way for winemakers to engage with their customers, and usually had good deals on wine.
Now that Amazon owns Whole Foods, however, they also own their wine retailer licenses. That means Amazon has to play by different rules. While the retailer licenses remove a lot of headaches about online compliance issues, it also adds new regulations. For example, in California a retailer may not accept payment from producers for advertising, which is exactly what Amazon has been doing with Wine.Woot.
In any big corporate deal there are winners and losers, so sacrifices have to be made. Unfortunately, Wine.Woot didn’t make it out alive. Don’t mourn too long though. The site’s co-founders are already on to their next project, like phoenixes from the ashes. David Studdert had already co-founded a different company at the same time Wine.Woot launched back in 2006. Focusing on logistics and fulfillment, Studdert’s Wine Country Connect pioneered using modern software interfaces to assist wineries in their online sales. It was in fact, a partnership with Wine Country Connect that made Wine.Woot possible to begin with. Now, Matt and Dave Rutledge, the other two co-founders of Wine.Woot, are partnering back up with Studdert and kickstarting a new website called Casemates. Basically a replacement and improvement on Wine.Woot, they’ve already doubled their $50,000 Kickstarter goal, so they seem to have a promising future providing well priced wine.
Whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard the name Wine.Woot, or you were one of the site’s most active users, this is an interesting case study to look at as Amazon continues to grow. What happens to the smaller fish as the big fish make their moves? What may help the Whole Foods might harm the Wine.Woots. Now, with rumors that Amazon is looking to purchase Target in 2018, we may have to go through another round of “what stays and what goes?” That’s still just a rumor, and it’s too early to tell to the full extent of the fallout from the Whole Food purchase, but one thing is for sure, now we’ll have to find a new way to get our favorite wine for cheap.