We started with Wine Watch, Inc. back in 2004 when they hired us to assist their migration from a static web site to an “enterprise solution” that connected their chosen vendor’s proprietary point of sale system, used to process orders in the store, with their proprietary online ordering system. This was marketed as a cutting edge solution capable of taking Wine Watch to the next level for the low, low setup cost in the $100,000.00 range and a monthly charge of $1000.00 for licensing and ongoing system support.
We attended trainings, studied the system, and implemented the online display of products as described by the system’s manual. Wine Watch focused their efforts on learning how to operate the very complex system and on entering their vast wine inventory consisting of thousands of bottles of wine and hundreds of accessories into the system.
Several months later setup was complete and the system launched live. It wasn’t long before the online order system started crashing. Making support phone calls to troubleshoot and get the online system back up and running was a regular occurrence. They were not able to get it working consistently at any point and very few sales were made online.
The issue with the online system constantly crashing was just one of many problems. Next on the list was that some of Wine Watch’s needs weren’t being met
With the online system not functioning as expected, overall product dissatisfaction and hesitancy to take a chance on another vendor, Wine Watch contracted us to deliver a custom solution, made from scratch, using open source technologies.
We developed an online wine shop that was simple and only did what Wine Watch needed at the time. Wine Watch was willing to invest in their success and gave us the go ahead to spend some extra time seamlessly integrating search engine optimization into the fabric of the system from the start.
It features a shopping cart, inventory management system, several CRM solutions (e.g., an email broadcaster with personalization and subscription management and a user management system), a sophisticated checkout system, a wine specific packaging system, a search engine and an extendable pipeline based order management system.
We drew it up using a 3-tier architecture that separates business logic from presentation logic. We used solid object oriented design principles and object oriented design patterns where they make sense without over engineering it and making things unnecessarily complex. This allowed us to implement a test driven approach to developing the core business logic in isolation. New functionality can be added and refactoring can be done as needed without losing sleep worrying much about regression bugs.
Some of the open source technologies used include Linux, PHP, Apache, Smarty, Zend Framework, jQuery, PDO, MySQL, Doctrine ORM, Bootstrap, PHPUnit and Selenium.
Winewatch.com has been in production for 7 years and has processed millions of dollars in orders with very little downtime. And we love it when we’re onsite and hear someone say “got another web order.”