Product Registrations Online: Out with the Old, In with the New

In the increasingly fast pace of wine, malt and spirit law and compliance, more and more states are recognizing the importance of doing more with less, optimizing processes, and going green. Over the last two years alone, seven states have begun using PRO (Product Registration Online) to accept online label registrations from licensees. For labels registered through PRO in these states, we’ve seen registration time-to-approval drop from weeks or even months to days, and in some cases just a matter of hours! It’s not surprising that states and licensees alike are swapping out traditional registration forms sent via snail mail for electronic registrations transmitted instantaneously and approved in short order.

Since it’s beginning in 2012, PRO has improved the registration process by making label registration move quickly and easily for licensees and state administrators alike. We’ve worked with licensees – covering over 4,000 wholesale brands – to learn what we can do to make registrations less frustrating and time consuming. We also learned about what users can do to make registrations accurate 100% of the time to ensure minimal delays or rejections.

How can I get started?

Need to register labels in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, South Dakota, or Washington?  Getting started is easy. ShipCompliant users have PRO already integrated into their accounts, and are utilizing end to end workflows including TTB COLA submission and state subsequently automated registrations to multiple states. Outside of a ShipCompliant account, PRO is available by visiting www.productregistrationonline.com.

Where will I be able to register electronically next?

Well, we can’t spill the beans on this yet, but we’re working with quite a few states that have gotten feedback from you, raving about PRO in the existing states. We’re looking to have a new PRO state (or two) in the next couple months. (Hint) one sported a boxing legend and the other produced two brothers with one of America’s finest inventions.  Okay, maybe you can guess the states… In the world of compliance, who needs more time-consuming and tedious forms to fill? Questions? Have a state you’d like to see adopt PRO? Contact us.

Don’t Fall Behind With Your Fortified Wine

Maine, New Mexico, and Washington are the only states that have separate excise tax rates for wine and wine fortified with spirits (Edit: Some states consider a product to be fortified if it is over a certain ABV, regardless of the addition of spirits). To date, we’ve accommodated wineries that shipped fortified products to consumers by having two separate versions of the report or used calculations based on product ABV in each state. Based on user feedback, we wanted to make this process easier and more accurate, so we recently added the ability to specify that a product is fortified in ShipCompliant. With this change, we updated the Maine, New Mexico, and Washington returns listed below so that any orders containing “fortified” products will be taxed at the corresponding rate, beginning with returns that are due on or after March 20.

  • Maine Direct Shipper Excise Tax and Premium Report of Table Wine, Sparkling and Fortified Wine
  • New Mexico Liquor Excise Tax Return for Direct Shippers
  • Washington LIQ-318 Wine Authorized Representative Certificate of Approval Holder Summary Tax Report
  • Washington Liquor Shipment and Tax Report (LIQ-778 Distributor)
  • Washington Liquor Shipment and Tax Report (LIQ-870 Wine Shipper)

If you are subscribed to one of the returns listed above, we will automatically update your return to tax products based on the new “fortified” product settings starting Friday, February 28 – you do not have to take any action in your ShipCompliant account unless you have fortified products.

To mark products as fortified, select the “Fortified” checkbox when adding or editing products in your account. Please note: Any orders entered prior to specifying that a product is fortified will not be retroactively updated. To learn more, read our client Knowledge Base article.

The Pac Northwest is Heating Up! Learn How to Harness the Growth

Next week, our team will be in Napa to celebrate our 8th annual DIRECT Conference. If you’ll be in the area on June 13th, we’d love for you to attend!

But did you know that we’ll also be holding events in Oregon and Washington this month?

It’s easy to see why hundreds of brands in the Pac Northwest have begun to use ShipCompliant in the past few years; the region is now a formidable force in direct-to-consumer sales. When we compiled our 2013 Direct Shipping Report, we saw growth across the entire market, but Oregon and Washington stood out as outperformers. Though their direct wine sales are about one fifth of Napa’s, the upward trend is hard to ignore.


Let’s take a closer look at Washington.


According to our 2013 Direct Shipping Report, the Evergreen State has seen monumental growth in its wine industry, with year over year volume growth of more than 18% in 2012.Not only that, but the average price of a bottle from Washington has risen 19%. This has pushed the market past the $50 million mark for the first time last year, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

It also seems that the best food pairing for a glass of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, is, in fact, another glass of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. Sales of the varietal have shot up over 69% in the past year. Cabernets, Syrahs, and blends now represent 70% of the state’s market for wine by volume.

Heading south a bit, our friends in Oregon have also enjoyed huge success in recent years. The state boasted a 10% gain in direct shipping sales last year, and its average price per bottle has risen to over $37, slightly above that of both Washington and Sonoma.

The 2004 Paul Giamatti film “Sideways” was set in Santa Barbara, where the actor’s character was obsessed with Pinot Noir. Based on our data, the film could have easily been set in Oregon, where the varietal represents 60% of total shipping volume, as well as the highest average bottle price at $47. No other region is more dominated by a single type of wine than the Beaver State.

The source of Oregon’s rise in direct shipping, however, is not forged by Pinot alone. Now that Oregon has established itself as a haven for aspiring grapes, more varietals have stepped up to the plate, as Pinot Noir’s annual volume remains flat. Syrah/Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc have all exploded in 2012 with growth of over 100% each. Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon’s average price per bottle has risen 30%, to $35. Though these varietals have a long way to go to catch up to Pinot Noir, it’s this diversity that is truly fueling the state’s rapid ascent.

We welcome this growth, and we love to see it. In fact, we’re hosting two events in the Pacific Northwest this month, along with our sponsors, Moss Adams LLP. We call it “Step-by-Step,” and we’ve designed these seminars to help wineries finance, account for, and act compliantly through the rapid positive changes happening in their businesses.

To sign up for our June 18th seminar in Oregon, click here!

To sign up foro ur June 20th seminar in Washington, click here!

Your DIRECT source of Wine Shipping Information

The ShipCompliant Blog brings you a steady flow of legislative updates, regulatory changes and other important news impacting wine shippers. If you find this information valuable, you won’t want to miss DIRECT 2013, ShipCompliant’s 8th annual Direct Sales and Shipping Seminar taking place June 13, 2013, in Napa, California.

This full-day seminar will feature multiple breakout sessions to discuss, in detail, some of the most important issues to wine direct shippers today, including:

  • Regulatory Roulette: A Discussion of Key Regulatory Issues Impacting Your Business
  • Integrating a Mobile Marketing Strategy into Your Sales Efforts
  • Third-Party Marketing: The Regulatory Landscape You Need to Know
  • Best Practices for Managing your Fulfillment Efforts in the Age of Amazon
  • Shipping Analytics: How Do You Measure Up?
  • ShipCompliant Support Lab: 1-on-1 Training
  • ShipCompliant University (three tracks)
    • Back to Basics: ShipCompliant 101
    • Compliance Made Easy
    • From Sale to Shipment

You’ll also get to hear from best-selling author and keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph Michelli, as he shares his share his extensive, in-depth research into key differentiators that define the success of companies like Starbucks, Zappos, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. And more importantly, how wineries can incorporate these strategies to create their own “creaveable” brands.

Wine Institute Director of State Relations, Steve Gross, will give a detailed state-by-state overview of recent and upcoming changes affecting wine direct shippers. Pat Kohler, Director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, and Deputy Director Rick Garza will provide insight on recent changes in Washington state that have industry-wide impacts.

Seating is limited, so register today to confirm your seat at this eighth-annual exciting and informative conference.

Is the Marketplace Fairness Act Fair for Wineries?


In short, yes, for a couple of reasons:

1. Wineries already pay sales tax in most states
2. The vast majority of wineries will likely be exempt from the law

So what is it, exactly?

Senate Bill S. 743, more commonly known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act“, is a pretty simple bill that would give states the ability to require out of state businesses that have “remote sales” in excess of $1 million annually to remit sales taxes. Each state would be able to opt in to the Act, but only after they have simplified their tax structure, either by joining the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement or to follow the steps outlined in the bill to simplify their sales tax requirements.

Will it pass?

With broad bi-partisan support, S. 743 passed out of the Senate with a vote of 69 to 27. However, a tough battle is expected in the House, and therefore the Marketplace Fairness Act has a long way to go before it is enacted with a signature from President Obama. Amazon.com is supporting the bill (presumably because they would like to move forward with their plans to build warehouses in each state to support same-day shipping), while eBay is one of the main voices in opposition.

What will it mean for wineries?

A lot hinges on the definition of “remote sales”. Keep in mind the fact that state legislation to allow wine shipments typically includes a provision that also requires wineries to register for and pay sales tax. As it stands in the Senate version, and based on our interpretation of the current language, sales by wineries to states where they are already required to pay sales tax would not be counted when considering the $1 million threshold for remote sales.

Based on some quick analysis, there are a few hundred wineries in the US that ship more than $1 million worth of wine to consumers each year. BUT, if you include sales only to those states (Alaska, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming) that do not require wineries to pay sales tax, then we estimate that less than 25 wineries would exceed the $1 million cap. In other words, the vast majority of the 7,000+ wineries in the US would be exempt from this law.

Wineries are already accustomed to calculating, collecting, and remitting sales taxes in most states. So, for those wineries that would not be exempt from this law, it would probably not be that big of a deal to add a few more states (initially the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Wyoming) to the list of states to which they would be required to remit sales tax. They already have the technology and processes to do so.

The bill would take effect, at the earliest, on October 1st, 2013. Once effective, the 22 “Streamlined” sales tax states would begin requiring sales tax for remote sellers with over $1 million in sales. After that, each of the remaining 28 states would choose whether to opt in to the Act and start requiring sales tax from remote sellers.

Washington State Simplifies Tax Filing For Wineries

Washington now allows an optional annual filing of wine tax for wineries whose total sales into Washington are less than 6,000 gallons annually (roughly 2,500 cases). Wineries that exceed the 6,000 gallon limit, however, must continue to file monthly returns. This new allowance comes after the passage of SB 5259, a bill that passed in March and officially came into effect in June of this year. Bright yellow postcards were recently sent out by the Liquor Control Board (LCB) to qualifying wineries, along with instructions on how to change to the new frequency.

Senate and House Bill Reports on SB 5259 state that the passage of the bill is expected to benefit an estimated 300-400 wineries, simplify the reporting process and save time and effort. The state will benefit as well, as processing returns and payments for small dollar amounts can prove costly for the state.

How to Notify the State

Wineries who file the LIQ-774 (in-state wineries) and holders of the Certificate of Approval (COA) who file the LIQ-778 or the LIQ-870 (direct wine shippers) expecting to sell less than 6,000 gallons in Washington this year can sign up to file annually for the remainder of 2012 by emailing beerwinetaxes@liq.wa.gov. July 20 is the deadline for notifying the Liquor Board of intention to file annually for the remainder of the 2012 calendar year, so wineries should submit their requests to the LCB as soon as possible. In this email, specific account information should be included:

  • Name and phone number of the individual who files the returns
  • Trade name of the winery
  • COA number (or winery license number for in-state wineries)
  • Whether or not June 2012 sales have already been filed

The annual report for the remainder of 2012 may include sales from June through December. However, wineries that have already filed for the month of June will file the annual report beginning with July’s sales. If wineries would prefer to file annually beginning in January, this same process can be followed to change the filing frequency before the beginning of each new year.

Questions? Please contact the Washington State Liquor Control Board directly, or comment below.