Posted on | November 1, 2012
Written by | Ian Griffith
An evolutionary leap has been taking place in New York with how retailers and restaurants access pricing information from their distributors. While Beverage Media has had an online version of the book for over 10 years, changes in the dynamics of this market have created an opportunity to expand the role of our online listings. We have opened online access to a full view of the marketplace. Products from all distributors, including those not published in the printed book, can now be included online creating a powerful resource of the trade.
For 75 years Beverage Media has been a key advocate for the drinks trade in New York. It all started with a couple of lawyers, the Slone brothers, who put together a magazine to help readers with liquor licensing issues in the years after prohibition. Over the years this magazine grew to include hundreds of pages of distributor pricing becoming an important reference for stores and restaurants. Some of you will remember the heady days of the dot-com bubble, when Beverage Media was purchased by BevAccess and merged with our technical partner EDC. With ambitious plans and venture funding to grow a national “Industry Exchange”, the dot-commers eventually fired themselves and left behind a bit of a mess. However, our online ordering platform dates from those days and has operated as an administrative convenience for placing orders with distributors.
To help with navigating a complete view of the marketplace we added search tools that enhance the shopping experience. In addition to fulfilling the administrative function of allowing buyers to find items for reorder, the site now helps you browse products by category with a series of cascading filters that show a custom view of products that meet your criteria. Select French Wine and drill down through the regional hierarchy to find all Puligny Montrachet, filter by Vintage and Price Range to find the wines you need to fit a spot on your wine list. This selection can also be saved and returned to next month, so that a personalized link will reveal whether new items are available or prices have changed.
The emphasis of the revised search features is to provide a powerful user experience so that you have more tools to find and compare products. Search facets in the left navigation narrow to present more targeted options as you navigate through the catalog. These facets either provide a hierarchy of options like regional tiers, or the show multiple selections so you can, for example, compare multiple grape varieties side by side. The options within a facet can sort to show an alphabetical listing, or a listing of options with the most results. The page then refreshes automatically using AJAX calls without waiting for the page to rebuild.
The main results page no longer shows all the pricing levels available on an item. Only one discount level is visible on this list page, but a link shows when more “more deals” are available. Those deals are laid out on the detail page which has been redesigned to give buyers more tools to make decisions. The discount levels are given more space with dollar and percentage discounts displayed prominently. There are plans to display a buyer’s purchase history so the last purchase date and previous price paid can be taken into account. Adding items to the shopping cart can be completed from both search result or detail pages, and many distributors will receive your order electronically, directly into their order board.
Given Beverage Media’s prominent role in the industry, it has always been central to our missions that we protect our neutrality in the midst of the three tiers. We certainly do business with all three tiers and some customers are larger than others, but our success has always been based on making decisions with the benefit of the whole industry in mind. This mission is now evolving to a new level that places exciting tools in the hands of buyer with a more complete view of the marketplace online.
To comment on this column or to learn more about how Beverage Media can help with
a website for your store, visit BevSites.com or contact Ian Griffith at 617-864-1677.
Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/bevsites
For a complete listing of all the Talkin' Tech articles, please visit Talkin' Tech on BevSites.com.