It is a battle that seems to rage on and on…. and on. We, as an industry, are notoriously bad at technology. Hell, we are still having discussions about how social networking is a “thing.”
The biggest issue is always our winery software which includes a few different systems: inventory, accounting,
piece of shit point of sale (POS), shipping compliance. I’d say 90% of the time any two of these don’t integrate well and if they do those two items definitely won’t integrate with a third or fourth item on that list. God forbid you want to switch providers too because the exporting and eventual importing of content is just as painful (if not more).
My biggest question is always: Why is all of this so difficult? I can import and export data from other systems just fine. Why is the wine world such a black hole when it comes to software?
I can think of five “prominent” systems that I have utilized in the wine world and there is one of them that was able to handle POS, inventory and accounting HOWEVER that particular system was built in 80s/90s and hasn’t seen much in terms of updates (last I heard two years ago version 2.0 was “close” to being released). Many of them have gone as far as integrating web services and do a pretty good job.
Since our focus is wine and hospitality this is how I would expect things to flow (in a very generalized way of course):
- A wine is made and as a result expenses and inventory are recorded.
- A wine is released for sale. Those resulting sales and inventory changes are recorded within the same system.
- If that order is for pick up it can be packaged up right then and there. If that order needs to be shipped it is checked for compliance and pushed to a fulfillment center so it can be shipped out.
- Order packaged and shipped out with the resulting tracking information provided and inventory updated at the fulfillment center.
But that just isn’t how it goes. All of those items do happen but not in a flowing succession. They all turn into a new “Step #1” because you have to dig into an additional system every time you want to do any of them. Generally those expenses, sales and inventory are maintained in a separate system (think Quickbooks or other software). The POS system handles the “sales” and can “check” shipping compliance but can’t push those orders to shipping fulfillment centers. As a result those orders have to be manually exported, or hand-written or both, and then imported in to compliance and/or shipping software. After that we manually plug in the tracking info pack into the POS system so we can at least reference it if needed for customer service purposes. Then the records from the POS system are pulled once again and balanced with the accounting/inventory software because they don’t talk to each other either.
Just about every order you have ever made through a winery goes through steps similar to that paragraph above. It is a time-consuming, monotonous process that is beyond inefficient. Now if someone out there knows of a winery accounting, inventory, sales and shipping system that allows for all of that to seamlessly happen please let me know so I can spread the good word. If not who wants to start programming one?
Then you have the whole website and social networking side of things. Sure they take time to maintain but as a business they are now your front line of communication. If someone tastes your wine or is introduced to your product they generally search for it online (or talk to a reliable referral source such as a good friend or family who has probably already done that research). With that in mind why wouldn’t you make sure links work, that your site(s) are somewhat mobile or tablet-friendly and that people can find the information they want with one or two clicks?
It is going to take some time, effort, and probably some dollars if you are looking to revamp a website or get your social networking on point. Good web designers, generally, aren’t cheap but the the good news is that the social networking side of things can be handled as long as someone in your organization is in possession of a smart phone (you just have to iron out the etiquette of each network). When it comes to the different programs we need to keep things running in the wine industry we are pretty much SOL for the time being so stick to whatever “streamlined” package you have until the cavalry arrives.