You may not have been aware, but you used to be able to buy alcohol through amazon. To be clear, you couldn’t buy it *From* amazon.com but you could at the very least search for, tag, review, list, and add things to your wishlist via the many amazon affiliates who had connected with the site and offered links to their products.
As of mid June the entire category of Beer & Spirits normally a subset of the Grocery and Gourmet area is off the main site. The category still exists and if you search for products in it you can still find a few. It is impossible to browse to it from anywhere on the site.
I had a very well tended wishlist for bar tools, liquor and books that I wanted to buy for this site. Things that I might not find locally or that I wanted to link to other people in some way. My amazon wishlist was a good way to do that. To an extent it still is, you can use the amazon browser button to add things from other websites. This works if you’re just wanting a list. But if you’re price checking, or looking for availability it can be a headache to update the links manually when something changes.
In addition, I make some of my money back on this site from affiliate links. If I find a product I like, or even one I despise that I want you to try out yourself I will tag it with the best price I can find and let you decide for yourself. Now that there isn’t a single bottle of anything to be found on amazon most of my links are going to be books, tools and other items but none of the various liquors that I try.
If you’re looking to curate a wishlist Drink Up NY offers a wishlist as part of their site. They’re not comprehensive but they are very well stocked and I was able to find about 99% of what I was looking for within their pages. I’ll do up another article about them another time but I’m quite happy with them so far.
Amazon hasn’t really released any kind of statement about the removal of their liquor affiliates or even sent an email to the people affected. Searching their site turns up nary a reference to the change except that alcohol other than wine is now a prohibited listing. The only reference I could find was from an off site advertising blog.
It could be part of amazon’s new attempt to sell wine directly. Which is not the first time they’ve dabbled in the wine merchant trade. They started something similar in 2008, tried a partnership with wine.com and invested in wineshopper.com at one point.
Another possibility is the many and varied difficulties surrounding taxes and alcohol regulations at the state level. Online retailers often have to manage 50+ different sets of regulations and collect sales taxes from all of them just to ensure shipping. Others simply require local delivery or in store pickup which makes finding an online retailer difficult and maintaining an online store costly.
I had thought that amazon had sidestepped this hurdle by only linking to off-site affiliates and not offering anything for sale directly through the amazon.com site. I’m personally hoping that they bring the affiliates back, or at the very least explain what happened to change their policy.