NAPA -- Microworks Technologies, a locally based developer of direct sales management software for the wine industry, is expanding as the needs of wineries for their tasting rooms, wine clubs and other direct-to-consumer channels change.
The company started in 1991 writing software to automate specialty gift shops, and transitioned to the wine industry three years later. Over the years, the Wine Direct product line has expanded to encompass management of tasting room operations, inventory, wine clubs, marketing campaigns, fulfillment and compliance.
So far, Microworks' staff of five has been able to work well with wine company customers. But a growing customer list and a new direction for products next year will require the company to double in size, according to Scott Meloney, founder and chief executive officer
"The landscape of the business has changed, and we're adjusting to it," he said. "We have new initiatives and products in the pipeline we can't talk about right now."
[caption id="attachment_37126" align="alignright" width="302" caption="Screenshot of Microworks Technologies' Wine Direct software cash register page"][/caption]
For one thing, tasting room point-of-sale cash registers increasingly are transitioning to computer workstations networked to a wine company's payment, regulatory compliance, fulfillment and customer relationship management systems. Also, more consumers want to be able to sign themselves up for wine clubs and update their own payment information online, and that saves on labor costs for data entry, according to Mr. Meloney.
And there's more use of handheld computers -- smartphones with custom apps and attachments such as credit card readers, special-built units or tablets -- to handle transactions and collect consumer information for wine club membership or email marketing. These are showing up more at off-site wine events and on-site venues such as outdoor dining areas on a winery property.
A number of winery point-of-sale software providers have integrated mobile applications into their software packages.
Yet while major computer and software makers are moving business customers toward cloud computing, or having most data and software delivered to winery employees' devices or cash registers via the Internet, the wine industry likely will lag that trend, mainly because of geography, according to Mr. Meloney.
"The wine industry is still somewhat rural," he said. "And while some have solid Internet connections where the cloud can work, can the registers work when it is not a local database?"
Until that changes, wine POS software developers have built in "store and forward" functionality. Transaction information is stored locally while the connection with off-site databases is unavailable and forwarded to them when the connection is restored.
Yet, there is a blend of on-site and cloud computing for software partners such as regulatory compliance and fulfillment, which feed up-to-date information about orders, inventory and locale-specific rules for shipments and sales.
To accommodate the new staff, Microworks plans to relocate by early September from 1,400 square feet at 1100 Lincoln Ave. in Napa to 3,000 square feet of office space at 841 Latour Ct., Ste. C.
Bill Kampton of Colliers International represented Microworks in its expansion lease. Representing the property owner were Michael Moffett of Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers of the Valley as well as Chris Neeb and Matt Bracco of Cushman & Wakefield.