Online “flash” wine sites are so popular because everyone loves everything super-fast, super-easy, and super-cheap.
Most wine lovers have tried at least one of these sites. Bargain hunters love them, but everyone likes a deal, even snooty wine drinkers.
But how do you know which wine company to trust? How do you know you are getting a good deal?
Let’s take a look.
Flash Sale Wine Sites History
The original idea behind flash wine sales was to move slow-selling inventory by offering consumers a strong incentive to buy.
After starting up in 2004 (Wine Woot, anyone?) flash sites exploded during the 2008/2009 recession. At least a dozen or more of these companies are operating today, like WTSO, Last Bottle, and one called Flash Sale Wines.
The recession pressured companies’ cash flow and consumers’ pockets. With wineries holding a lot of excess inventory and consumers searching for deals, the sites took off.
Excess inventory takes up needed winery space for the next vintage. By making a quick deal to sell inventory, wineries raise cash and free up space.
Selling the wine under a private labelat a lower price maintains brand image and the loyalty of wine club members. Club members might revolt if they found their expensive wine sold for 70% less on one of these sites.
You won’t see a big-name Napa Cabernet Sauvignon selling on a flash site. But you might find a “top Napa Cab from a prestigious vineyard.”
Wine lovers could justify buying wine during the recession because it was cheap. Marketers took advantage by promoting limited-time offers at deeply discounted prices. This tactic created scarcity and encouraged demand. Consumers felt psychological pressure to BUY NOW!
The nature of flash sales requires ongoing offers to bring in new customers and keep current ones buying.
Listing one wine at a time at a deep discount with limited availability drives sales. When a wine sells out, a new one pops up. There is always another great deal waiting.
After the recession, some of these flash sites were bought by larger companies. Some tried to pad profits by charging high shipping costs. Flash site business tapered off as the economy improved.
Then came the global pandemic. COVID has changed the way people buy wine. Before the pandemic, even with the flash sites, buying wine online wasn’t mainstream.
Now, people are comfortable buying wine online, and flash sites continue to be popular. Shipping costs are lower, and the regulatory environment has shown some flexibility.
These sites fill a valuable niche in the industry: eliminating oversupply, keeping smaller wineries and retailers in business, and providing value to consumers.
Flash Sale Wine Sites Growth Creates Controversy
These sites grew their consumer base quickly, but not without controversy. A lawsuit was sure to come.
In 2016, WTSO was sued, accused of falsely creating Suggested Retail Prices (SRP.) When the SRP was compared with the offered price, deals appeared better than they were. The class-action suit was settled in late 2017, with no admission of liability or wrongdoing.
While these sites initially seem exciting and fun, you can eventually get overwhelmed or exhausted by so many offers. Marketers know very well how to manipulate consumers.
You get carried away and feel the pressure not to miss out. Every wine sounds divine, and the price seems unbeatable. You don’t stop to think about the marketing talk.
You find yourself with too much wine and much less money.
Because you can’t taste the wine before you buy, you don’t know what you’ll get. You may end up with 6 or 12 bottles of something you’d never buy under normal circumstances.
And what about storage and transportation? The wine you ordered may have traveled around the country before arriving on your doorstep. Maybe it sat in a hot warehouse over a long weekend, and you find the corks pushed out when you open the box.
People have stopped using these sites for many reasons, and you should be wary
12 Tips How to Run a Successful Wine Flash Sale
So, what should you do?
Look for trustworthy and professional sites focused on adding value. Choose companies with proven backgrounds that provide guarantees and strong customer service.
Here are a few things to look for:
- Professional wine experts, not salespeople
- Online DTC retailer with a proven track record
- Guaranteed quality wines professionally tasted and verified
- Discounted prices resulting from a sound business model
- A superior experience based on transparency and trust
- Wines from small family producers, top producers, and recognized brands
- Producer labeled, not private label
- Owned warehouses, no third party inventory management
- Free shipping for quantity purchases
- Excellent customer service
- Free sign-up and email offers
- Satisfaction guaranteed
When buying from a flash site, be thoughtful and buy based on reason, not emotion. Do your due diligence to be sure you get what you pay for. Support local retailers and wineries by checking out their deals, too.
8 More Flash Sale Tips Offered Only by Final Hammer
At Big Hammer Wines, we didn’t jump into the flash business but took the time to develop our program. Our intention was to provide maximum benefits to our clients for the long-term.
Some of the benefits we offer (beyond the requirements above):
- Our wines must pass strict standards (only 4% of wines we taste each year qualify.)
- We carry many exclusive wines not found in local markets.
- You get the lowest price in the market.
- We have a unique business model. We work directly with producers, no middlemen.
- Flash offer discounts are on top of already low selling prices.
- With our southern California location, wines aren’t shipped back and forth around the country before they get to you.
- We specialized in Bordeaux and California wines.
- Our offers include three wines per day, most rated 90+ or taste like they are.
Today’s wine market is a dream for wine lovers. You can buy great wine at fair prices and not get ripped off. Don’t search for the cheapest or the biggest players. Search for those companies who add value through quality, trust, and personal service.
Big Hammer Wines
The wine experts at Big Hammer Wines taste thousands of wines every year from around the globe, looking for quality and value. This special offer reflects the passion we have for our clients.