Custom orders require custom integrations, and few retailers know that more than those who sell alcohol. Hi-Time Wine Cellars, a family-owned retail liquor store located in Costa Mesa, California, found this to be the case when they found they needed to upgrade their ecommerce platform.
Hi-Time Wine has been serving the Costa Mesa community since 1957, with three generations committed to providing high-quality product and excellent customer service to their customers. They are staffed with passionate, knowledgeable people who help customers discover new favorites, as well as their tried and true standards.
In 1985, Hi-Time Wine moved from their original location to a larger 24,000 square foot store. Now you can shop their inventory of over 1,200 foreign and domestic brands and microbrews in their walk-in beer showcase or purchase a keg from their separate keg facility.
You’ll also find the most highly regarded spirits and exotic liquors on Hi-Time Wine’s shelves. Or, go inside their new 3,000 square foot temperature-controlled, underground wine cellar to peruse their collection of rare and unique wines. Their inventory includes bottles from the most revered wine regions in the world, with top labels and new and exotic wines from California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, South America, and Portugal.
Their on-site “Smoke Shack” cigar humidor contains over five hundred tobacco brands, pipes and accessories in their tobacconist wing, and gourmet foods, specialty chocolates, cheese, and charcuterie are also available for purchase.
Due to the differing laws and restrictions imposed on alcohol sales in all fifty states, Hi-Time Wines had many fundamentally different, very specific needs for their ecommerce store. It was of vital importance to include these specifications for the protection of their business, so accuracy, efficiency, and flexibility were top priorities for the integration project. Hi-Time’s IT Manager Sean Kinney and our Retail Dimensions developers worked closely together to come up with a list of all the areas of business that needed to be addressed for their online retail store to function at the highest level possible. The list included:
- A loyalty points program for repeat customers.
- Gift cards that could be used easily online and in-store.
- A gift registry that would allow visitors to the site to send gifts to friends and family anywhere in the world.
- Special sales and promotions that would coincide with those offered in store, as well as ones that were exclusively available only online.
- A barcode inventory system that allowed automatic updates with each change.
- Automatic adjustments to the inventory needed to be available instantly throughout the store to managers in different departments.
- An easy-to-use shipping calculator that would automatically figure costs regarding package size and shape to fit unique bottles and large gift packages.
- The ability to process orders and ship products to clients in other countries through their common carriers, such as FedEx, UPS, and GSO.
- An access barrier to the shopping cart that would unlock when customers provided their age. This is the standard requirement to legally purchase alcohol online at age 21 in the United States.
“The more you integrate, the more time and money you save in the end. Now we are able to devote more of our attention to Hi-Time Wine’s core concept; our customers.”Sean Kinney, IT Manger
Hi-Time Wine was already set up with a Counterpoint POS/retail management system and a Magento ecommerce site. They were functioning relatively well, but when Magento upgraded their ecommerce platform, IT Manager Sean Kinney saw an opportunity for a better integration between the POS system and the new Magento 2 platform.
Kinney contacted Retail Dimensions to discuss the project. He was familiar with our ability to create integrations that are custom designed to fit each client’s needs. We had worked with Hi-Time Wine previously to integrate their previous Magento supported site with their POS system, so Kinney and his team were confident that our work and ability to bring many facets together in one integration could provide them with a site that could address the differing needs required to sell to any state in the nation.
Creating an integration that can handle the many intricate details that are sometimes required of a store such as Hi-Time Wine is easily achieved with Retail Dimensions’ compartmental approach to the project. Our engineers combine different pieces of the integration together to create a system that will have the ability to function within each business’s unique operation. Having good, established relationships with POS system companies and ecommerce platform providers gave us a leg up when it came to designing the integration, as we were able to pull from the knowledge we’ve gained through past projects and foresee areas that have the potential to change in the future. This will enable Hi-Time Wine to grow with the changes to the ecommerce site as they continue to grow their business.
Shipping was the most important and complicated piece of the integration due to the special requirements needed for selling and shipping liquor online. Our engineering team built special custom features right into the comprehensive system to address each shipping company’s specific requirements. Kinney and one other member of his IT team were working closely with Retail Dimensions to ensure that all areas of the integration were addressed fully and appropriately, with the entire process taking one year to complete, with six of those months dedicated to planning and six devoted to developing and executing the integration.
The final integration product includes
- Creating a “21 and over” access point prior to purchasing alcohol.
- Adding on an additional $3 charge for an adult’s signature at delivery point, as required by law.
- An easy, one-step inventory updating processing system that could handle Hi-Time Wine’s estimated 10,000 products and that all department buyers could use simultaneously.
- A system that has the ability to grow and update with the busiest ecommerce platforms.
Retail Dimensions provided a lot of education after the integration was completed. Throughout the process the our team worked with Kinney to ensure he was informed and felt comfortable with the integration. This helped eliminate questions along the way and provided him with oversight into each phase of the project.
Now that the integration is complete and the Hi-Time’s online store is fully functioning, Hi-Time Wine Cellars has seen their online sales activity increase and they were able to continue to serve their clients during California’s recent “stay at home” mandates.
Along with the increase in sales, awareness of special events and wine tastings hosted by Hi-Time Wine are receiving more notice and they expect to see an increase in attendance when regular social gatherings resume.
Raising a Glass to Hi-Time Wine Cellars Online Store
Because of Retail Dimensions’ ability to bring many individual pieces together into one customized integration, Sean Kinney reports that his fellow employees “rely on the integration at every step in the fulfilment process.” They have confidence that each purchase is handled carefully, legally, and with expediency, both in-store and online.
Let’s all raise a glass to Hi-Time Wine Cellars and their new and improved online store!