Majestic Wine swaps Microsoft for Intershop in ecommerce refresh

Majestic Wine is revamping its website with an InterShop 7 ecommerce engine, which replaces a legacy Microsoft Commerce Server system.

Majestic Wine is revamping its website with an InterShop 7 ecommerce engine, which replaces a legacy Microsoft Commerce Server system.

As Computer Weekly has previously reported, retailers are investing more in ecommerce to tackle the economic downturn. The wine retailer has experienced growth in online sales of 7.8% from April 2011 to April 2012, with an average basket value of £144, an increase of 1.4% from the previous year.

In the Wine retailers annual financial statement for 2012, CEO Steve Lewis, said the company has recognised that the web is an environment which is continually changing with along with customer expectations. "We are constantly innovating to enhance our customers’ experience and bring the Majestic in-store values online.”

This year sees a major change to the site. “We want to make customers aware of what is in their local store,” says Richard Weaver, ecommerce director at Majestic.

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The new site aims to provides near real-time stock information across all Majestic stores, which will enables orders to be fulfilled at the customer’s local store. Due to be launched in the summer, the new site means customers can purchase pre-mixed cases or mix their own cases and support personalised product recommendations from Majestic’s  in-house wine experts.

The local fulfillment service uses Beacon Dodsworth geographic commerce software to map the customer’s postcode onto a list of stores dynamically. Majestic uses this to manage the volume of orders taken from local stores, by presenting to the user a list of stores for order fulfillment. While the site allows customers to choose their local store, it also needs to take into account cross-border legislation, that will occur when a customer living in Scotland orders wine from a Majestic store in England. 

Weaver ran the selection process for the new platform by inviting joint bids from suppliers and system integrators. “We wanted a best-of-breed product capable of meeting our requirements, from a vendor which continues to invest in and develop its solutions. Intershop's comprehensive content management system and simple back-end tools impressed us. Furthermore, Intershop's platform is not resource hungry, which was a pleasant surprise given all the functionality available.” Majestic selected service provider Javelin to work alongside InterShop. InterShop is owned by GSI Commerce, which was acquired by eBay in 2011.

At the same time, Majestic also looked for a new search and site navigation tool, even though one is included with InterShop, to provide linked up marketing. Majestic chose SDL Fredhopper, which allows the company to promote related products alongside customers’ wine choices. In terms of guiding customers on wine choice. “It is very easy to throw in a lot of data points about a wine, but these do not tell you how good it tastes,” said Weaver. Instead, the new site gathers wine recommendations from staff.

Fraser Davidson, CTO at Javelin, says the site has been built using the HTML 5.0, optimised primarily for a touch user interface on tablet computers. This design will also work on a PC. For mobile device access, rather than build a separate mobile site, Davidson  says the site uses a responsive design. “If we recognise the device being used is a mobile phone, we will simplify the checkout logic to enable the user to read pages easier and faster.”

The project used a modified version of Rational’s Unified Process, an iterative software development methodology from IBM. “We ran a detailed design phase for Majestic. Construction then involved eight iteration steps, each taking three weeks.” At the end of each iterative step, Javelin showed Majestic what it had built, and took on board feedback to carry through to the next stage of the project.

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