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The Wine Society toasts 6 millionth order

By Retail Technology | Monday July 8 2013

Multichannel management system supports business growth for specialist cooperative business for over 15 years now

Having implemented Maginus to help improve customer service, increase efficiency and cope with the large order volumes through its varying sales channels, the multichannel system has just processed The Wine Society's six millionth order.

The Wine Society is a co-operative organisation specialising in supplying wines to a large and growing membership. Owned by its members exclusively for their benefit, it operates a mutual business model.

With this, and its growing membership in mind, the Society initially implemented Magnius in 1998 and, since then, has regularly upgraded the system, as technology has evolved and the business has grown.

The multichannel system allows The Wine Society to control the whole business including sales, purchasing, products, warehousing etc. from a single database. Sales are processed from across all the sales channels including web, catalogue, call centre and the store.

Fulfiling fundamental business role

David Marsh, head of information systems (IS) at The Wine Society, said: “Maginus’ solution fulfils a fundamental role in giving us central control of all pricing and product information across all of our channels. The functionality fit was great and the core system has proved to be very stable and has always worked well for our business."

Marsh continued: “One of the reasons we chose the system from Maginus was that we were confident that we could work with the people to build a strong working relationship. They obviously understood the mail order market, took a consultative approach and were able to advise us on industry best practice and developments. We have an excellent on-going relationship with Maginus and have every confidence that they will continue to execute to a high standard.”

Since the implementation, turnover has doubled to just over £80m and it has strengthened its membership figures by 50%, whilst only increasing the number of employees by 28%, highlighting the increased efficiency that the system has helped to deliver.

The company has also benefited from improved customer service, reducing the delivery times and giving its members more choice in both product availability and multiple sales channels. Marsh added: “Having the central IT infrastructure with a company that we trust has meant that our business processes are much more efficient and reliable, giving us more time worrying about the wine rather than the system.”

Managing seasonal peaks in demand

At Christmas time, the business receives four times as many orders as a typical day in February for instance, meaning that 40% of the annual turnover is handled in two months. The staff at The Wine Society find the contact log within Maginus very useful – it gives them a history of everything that’s happened with the member and allows them to answer queries quickly and easily. Maginus also holds all data relating to products, availability, pricing etc which helps staff to answer customer queries such as whether wine is to lay down or to drink now. This access to information allows them to handle the peaks of the business much more smoothly.

The system also enables the company to track (through source coding) where the customer has been browsing the products and subsequently placing the orders. From this the Society found that a lot of members were browsing the quarterly catalogue, but then placing the order online. Marsh confirmed: “The day after the catalogue is mailed, there is a clear increase in orders being placed through the website, showing that the catalogue is still an important channel, in particular for our member demographic.’ 

As part of the development architecture of the Maginus technology, The Wine Society expect to benefit from the Maginus web services. It plans to use the web services initially to introduce handheld devices within the warehouse to help manage goods in, ensuring pallets are placed in the correct area of the warehouse. 

Marsh concluded: “We have been using Maginus for a great length of time and have remained extremely satisfied with its capabilities, particularly as it has continued to develop as the retail environment has changed around us. Maginus’ solution is entirely scalable and durable and grows and adapts as its members’ business strategy evolves. But equally important, for us, is the strong working relationship we have with the staff at Maginus.”

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