Geerlings & Wade - Cutting Through the Vines (2,787 words)
It also helps immensely with inventory issues.
"In some states such as New York different towns impose different sales tax rates—and Geerlings & Wade is responsible for collecting the correct tax. Or in New Hampshire, a customer can order only 60 bottles per year," says Pearce.
These constraints and rules must be programmed into the order processing software and be duplicated by the Web programming as well.
All customer data and transaction history is held in the system: how they paid, how product was shipped, and so on. Geerlings & Wade has designed for its four Internet sites a feature that allows customers to view their own purchase history. By pressing a button, they can reorder previous selections or receive another recommendation.
"The WineCat and Internet databases talk to each other," Kober says. "The Web site was built with the understanding that it had to replicate a lot of the business logic we were building into the WineCat system," a project that was going on more or less simultaneously. "The Web site needs to understand that in Texas, for instance, there are dry ZIP codes; the Web site needs to check [those things] just like a rep would on the phone," he adds. He says the Web site reconfigures itself to show the state's inventory as soon as the visitor logs in his or her ZIP code.
Kober says, "There are things you do day in and day out, and you need to make sure when you turn a new system on in our business [that they are included] so you don't make mistakes that are going to cause you difficulties with your license or with the regulatory authorities."
In terms of getting the new system in place, Geerlings & Wade worked in a compressed time frame: It wanted to get the job done before the year 2000, "and like any retailer, our fourth quarter is the most important one of the year, so we had to be up and running by August, or else we couldn't do it," Kober recalls. The job took six months. Kober says that "literally, the people from Avexxis would sleep on the desks here, they'd take a little snooze from midnight to four, and then they'd be up and working on it again. We went with Avexxis because that's their forte, building custom applications under tight time frames."