Top 5 Challenges of Wine Delivery

Like most aspects of the beverage alcohol industry, wine delivery is complicated. Though the direct-to-consumer industry is strengthening, both economically and politically, there are many seemingly small pieces that can completely derail your business strategy. Below you’ll find the top five challenges faced by those shipping wine, and some possible solutions to these issues.

Think of something we missed? Let us know in the comments!

An adult signature is required.

Every state requires that an adult of legal age receives and signs for any shipped wine. This can be surprisingly tough, as most adults aren’t home during typical delivery hours. However, business addresses are 85% more likely to get wine delivered on time the first time. Educating your customers on this statistic and encouraging them to ship to their place of employment is one way to improve delivery likelihood.

How to overcome the challenge

One way that you can estimate your wine club’s success is by tracking the percent of packages being delivered to a business address. In fact, our delivery experience tools help you identify customers that are at risk of a delivery failure because of the destination address (and other criteria) and help you be proactive about preventing them.

Temperature fluctuations can grind shipping to a halt.

During the sweltering summer months, we don’t even want to be out in the heat, let alone have our wine in it. If temperatures are too high or even too low, wines will spoil. For good reason, many wineries restrict shipping DtC during limited periods of the year, or only doing wine clubs twice a year. While your wine is safer, your sales are lower.

How to overcome the challenge

One solution to this is to look up the destination temperature and only ship an order if the temperature falls within your threshold. This is time-consuming and less than accurate, which is why we’ve created a tool to do this for your automatically. Want to learn more about how this tool actually works? Let us know you’d like a demo!

There are thousands of rules to keep up with.

We aren’t being dramatic here. There are literally thousands of compliance rules that apply to orders, with specific, complicated rules from the state to local level. These rules include aggregate volume limits, age and address verification, and product compliance. And that’s just the start.

How to overcome the challenge

To provide wineries with a better understanding of these rules, we work with the Wine Institute to aggregate the state laws for wine shipping. You can find a map and details for each state here. Our direct-to-consumer product also makes sure that all of the orders you’re shipping are compliant with state requirements.

Fulfillment houses don’t always keep you informed.

They do their best, but fulfillment houses have a lot going on. At the end of the day, your business and your reputation are the ones at risk because of fulfillment issues. We’ve heard reports of some fulfillment houses not notifying the winery of a problem with an order until up to three weeks after the issue arose. Can you imagine having an issue with an online order and not hearing back for over a month?

You don’t want to chance a poor experience for your customers.

How to overcome the challenge

Fortunately, you have more options than just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Our delivery experience tools make you one step ahead. You’re able to be proactive about reaching out to your customers, and preventing shipping problems before they happen.

It ain’t cheap.

Here’s why all of the above matters: When a customer buys wine online, about 20% of every dollar they’re spending goes towards shipping. This means that if there is one single issue in the entire delivery process, the whole thing can fail and you are responsible for the return shipping.

In a world with services like Amazon Prime, customers hate spending money on shipping, making it that much more important that the experience gets done correctly. Overcoming the challenges of wine delivery may be difficult, but it is possible, and it will pay off. If you’d like to learn more, let us know!


Find out how ShipCompliant by Sovos can help your business stay on top of compliance by signing up for a free demo.


  1. deirdre

    Re: Temperature Fluctuations. Particularly when ground shipping, the temperatures wine may experience during the journey are as significant as the temperatures it may encounter at the destination. Imagine a ground shipment from the Pacific NW to Florida. The wine may encounter both freezing temperatures and significant heat during the trip. Neither FedEx nor UPS has been willing to guarantee specific ground routes to better estimate whether wine will be safe when shipped. Knowing the destination temperature is only half the story. Can you help with the other half?

    • Rachel Bush - Marketing Coordinator

      Hi, Deirdre! Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I don’t have any easy answer for you. While we don’t yet offer a service that guarantees temperature-safe transit, we’ve seen our clients handle this in a couple ways. Some folks use our Temperature Map to check possible routes their wine may take and make decisions based on that information. Other clients have sent their products by air during the extreme months or used cold packs for extra protection in the summer months. This is definitely a relevant issue, though, and is something we still want to explore solutions for.

  2. Jeffrey

    Does shipping spirits (rum, vodka, etc..) have a different set of rules (challenges) than wine?
    Thanks, Jeffrey

    • Rachel Bush - Marketing Coordinator

      Hi, Jeffery! Thanks for the question. Yes, spirits have a completely different set of rules when it comes to direct shipping. Only a few of the 45 states that allow wineries to ship to consumers also allow spirits to be shipped.

  3. Amit

    For temperature during summer and winter we offer temp control shipping and ice packs for last mile. If temperature reaches high 90, we will hold it off but high 80 to low 90 the solution works. Customer has to be there on first attempt.
    Your other challenge was the adult signature required, customers can sign up to UPS my choice and fedex has something similar where they can choose what time or day they want the delivery.
    On the positive note we don’t see returns of 30-40 percent like clothing and shoe industry, celebrate that !


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