What makes a digitized wine list possible for Carpe Vino is the launch of the Kindle Fire, the smaller of the two tablets shown here. The iPad pricing is as large as its surface area, more than double a Kindle Fire.
A wine shop and restaurant of our size just shouldn’t be on the bleeding edge of technology. . .but we are. Case in point is our latest advance: starting March 1, we will present our Restaurant Wine List on a Kindle Fire-powered platform. The list consists of more than 250 selections and represents about half of our total offerings in the store.
A bit of background:
Our ability to present our wine list on a Kindle Fire is a complex endeavor that dates back seven years to our very first investment in technology when we installed a computerized Point of Sales system, essentially a database of our entire inventory with a companion database of all of our clients. With this system we can, in real time, manage and market our business through a concise knowledge of what we have in stock and who is purchasing our products.
The next step in our evolution was launching an online store when Drew spearheaded the project to link our new shopping cart to our POS system. We effectively display selected inventory on the cart, complete with price, tasting notes and bottle shot.
The final challenge was to present our wine list on a Kindle Fire, and we accomplished this by mirroring content from our online store. Data is dumped into a new format created for the list and it is updated automatically four times each day so that as we sell out or add wines, these changes are reflected on the Wine List.
Drew has worked for more than a year with a Texas-based consultant (thanks for hooking us up, Ron Hart!) and our webmaster, Chris Tandoc, to put together all of the pieces of this very complex project—part database, part Internet, part design and all old-fashioned hard work.
We expect to meet our deadline and have four Kindle-Fire tablets available for use in the shop to start. The Wine List features a navigation bar on the left broken down by varietal and region. Customers can also simply scroll through the entire list. Each entry features the name of the wine, vintage, appellation and price. If there is a six-bottle deal available, this is noted, along with any scores awarded by The Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator or the Wine Enthusiast.
Since the entire list is linked to the Internet and locked to our web site, users can get more information by clicking on individual wines to obtain tasting notes and a bottle shot. The only issue we’re concerned about is that once people get a Kindle Fire in their hands, they’re not going to want to give it up.
One huge residual benefit is that we decided to apply to become a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award recipient, a designation granted to fewer than 4,000 restaurants worldwide whose lists meet exacting standards. We have not applied in the past because other than our by-the-glass wine list, we have not had a formal presentation of what we have to offer. Our new Kindle approach changes everything.
What really made this new advance possible for Carpe Vino was the launch of the Internet-based Kindle Fire, which retails for $199. When the Apple iPad was introduced several years ago, we fantasized about using one of the new vendors creating programs for the tablet, but the cost was prohibitive. Basic iPads cost $500 each, plus programming and database management. With our system, we’re getting into the game at a fraction of the cost of going with iPads.
The very cool thing is, however, anyone with an iPad or a computer will be able to access the list, so our customers can peruse the wine list at home before they come for dinner. The list will not be password protected. . .we want everyone to be able to take a look at what we have to offer.