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Wine sales online are going to get corked

Cock-up au vin

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Online wine sellers will be the next wave of e-tailers to suffer a big shakeout.

The wheels on this particular Internet bandwagon are already sliding off their axles according to an online business consultancy Rubus.

Yahoo.co.uk lists about 26 online wine retailers. This is far from a comprehensive list, making no mention of Virgin Wines or the newly launched itswine.com.

Michael Walton, chief executive at Rubus says, "They are selling to a very small consumer base which is one of the major hurdles to them being a business to consumer success."

"By success, I mean building a large, floatable enterprise. There will be space for a number of small to medium sized enterprises, but for most of them I don't think it will work."

"People would probably buy from these sites once, but if any part of the sale and supply process doesn't work, they wouldn't go back," Walton continued.

Rubus has published a White Paper detailing what it describes as "The Four Laws of Internet Survival."

These cover obvious business practices which are usually ignored by dotcom ventures.

Rubus suggests trying to develop a business proposition fit for the Internet - likle trying to make it interactive for example. Execution is also the key.

The the main point for a B2C site, according to Walton, is a recognisable brand name. These sites will survive, along with those whose reputation in the wine drinking community is well established.

Edward Mills the MD at itswine.com, responded: "We are confident that when the shakeout comes we will be in a strong position in the market."

The company is not only doing business to consumer, but also business-to-business, setting itself up as a distributor. This combined with the contacts the company has through the company chairman, Esme Johnstone (founder of Majestic) will, it hopes, give it an edge. ®

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