Tupperware. Cosmetics. Nutrition supplements. Products like these have been peddled over dinner parties for decades, but the latest in the direct seller’s market is, aptly, wine. Modifying the typical direct selling model to abide by alcohol retail laws, wine “consultants” or “ambassadors,” working with companies like WineShop at Home and Traveling Vineyard, are on the rise.
The business model is relatively straightforward: Direct sellers set up small tastings with friends, family, acquaintances, etc., during which they take orders for product. In order to navigate tricky alcohol selling regulations, these orders are sent to the vineyards and parent companies, who handle billing and fulfillment independently. Sellers themselves then take a commission, anywhere from 15 to 40 percent, of total sales.
Unfortunately, considering costs, the seller may see a net profit of as little as $75 per three hour tasting, which is why the vast majority of direct sellers work on an occasional basis, using profits to supplement existing income or pay off debt, reports the BBC. Some, however, have been able to make the endeavor their primary source of income, though, according to one study, it’s only 15 percent of direct sellers who are able to make $50,000 or more annually. [BBC] [Photo: Flickr/Geoffrey Fairchild]