June 19, 2006, 12:00 AM

How a single database strategy uncorks growth at K&L Wine Merchants

K&L Wine Merchants deals with constantly changing inventory of specialty wines, but moving data from several operations to a single database provides real-time updates of customer activity and inventory levels across its web site, stores and warehouses.

 

K&L; Wine Merchants deals with a constantly changing inventory of specialty wines, but moving information from several operations to a single database provides real-time updates of customer activity and inventory levels across its web site, stores and warehouses, vice president Brian Zucker says.

K&L; Wine, which conducts a large percentage of its sales on the web through KLWines.com but also operates a few stores and and customer call center, has built its reputation as a retailer of specialty wines often available in small batches. But the constantly changing inventory presents a huge challenge for delivery and customer service, Zucker says.

K&L; Wine formerly operated with several databases for its different selling channels and for special services like its Wine of the Month Club. The multiple databases made it virtually impossible to expedite deliveries and provide good customer service, Zucker says. “We used to have a complete nightmare of updating several databases every time a customer changed an address,” he says.

But by migrating several databases to an in-house-customized Microsoft SQL server database, K&L; Wine is able to instantly update customer data and inventory records throughout its operations, making it possible to let shoppers know if the particular wine label they want is available in a warehouse or store.

“When the last bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet 1997 is sold, within seconds we can see our inventory status across our warehouse and stores,” Zucker says, adding that online as well as store shoppers have instant access to updated inventory status. “Throughout our web site, we mention that our inventory is updated in real time.”

The system has enabled K&L; Wine to scale up in terms of overall business, Zucker says. While providing for better customer service and inventory management, it also supports K&L; Wine’s ability to quickly track which wine regions are selling better than others.

 

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