Automated business solutions are readily available for the wine industry. They range from Accounting software to CRM, Point of Sale, Wine Club, Production, Harvest Management, and eCommerce solutions. Some are focused on ease of use while others are focused on depth of features and customization capabilities. Depending on the business problem you are out to solve, you might be swayed by one aspect of the software more than others. For example, no matter how well designed, a difficult to use Point of Sale solution would not be a wise choice for a winery tasting room. The choices get more complicated from there. Often it comes down to settling for whatever meets the most pressing need at the time. That explains the generally high level of dissatisfaction that I have noticed among users of automated winery applications. (Feedback was gathered through a decidedly unscientific poll. )
When you are considering buying an automated solution, database design is one area where you should refuse to settle. Make sure there are sufficient fields to store all of the information that will drive critical insights into your business.
Rather than getting into a lengthy discussion of table joins and key fields, which could keep me entertained for hours, I want to talk about the kind of information that matters in a winery. Not only do you need a place to store information, you need that information to be stored in a way that is easily searched, sorted, and filtered.
In addition to basic contact data, you need to be able to analyze your customers in a number of different ways.
Here are some individual fields that might be useful for this purpose:
- Discount rate or pricing group
- Wine preference – varietal or brand
- Special dates – birthdays, anniversaries, etc
- Number of times visited Napa Valley
- Prefer large formats?
- Related to – other customer? Is there a connection between customers in your database? If so, can you identify them?
- Date of last visit/last purchase
- Date of last contact (by you)
- Notes – in individual date stamped fields so they can be sorted
If all of your information is stored in a single description field, you will have a hard time creating meaningful reports.
Look for your inventory solution to include these fields:
Financial Management and Reporting
For financial reporting purposes, you need to be able to segment information in different ways and you need sufficient detail of inventory-related expenses to determine the true cost of wine sold.
- Revenues and expenses by sales channel – Wholesale, California Wholesale and Retail at a minimum, but within Retail (DTC) by source would be nice : Tasting Room, Wine Club, Website
- Vineyard owners – keep these in three different buckets as they are allocated differently
- Vineyard costs
- Production costs
- Bottling costs
- Grape purchasers
- Grapes purchased with varietal, qty in gallons, and price paid
- Bulk wine sales – quantity sold, varietal, sales price
Make sure that any solution you choose is not only built on a strong foundation, but is also supported by a knowledgeable and accessible team of experts.