The Difficulty of Obtaining Wine Content //php get_posflags()?>
Posted on | February 1, 2010
Written by | admin
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Amanda Maynard and I’m the newest member to the BevSites office in Cambridge, MA. My job includes a number of duties, but here are a few of the biggies: content collection, matching from our database to store inventory for websites on our system, managing new sites launched on our brand new platform and helping with general customer service requests. I’ll also be writing here about once a month to let you know what’s on my mind and what we’re up to.
As I mentioned, part of my job is to handle content collection. That means often going to the websites of wine and liquor producers to try and find information about their products. There are some really good sites that provide information in a PDF or other acceptable format but there are others that provide very little (sometimes nothing). We are limited by where we can collect content from, too. Only official content put out by the producer, distributor, or importer makes the cut. That means we’re not pulling bottle photos or labels from a Google image search.
In thisearlier post by Ian, he touches on both the accessibility of data as well as the possible gains that can be made by bettering online content in the future. It’s great to see people working towards the common goal of good content everywhere (OwnIt is seriously awesome). However, the current state of available content often leaves me with low expectations when I’m hunting for wine labels, product descriptions and just plain old information. Some issues I come across are just annoying (like a music player that you can’t turn off or the site resizing my browser to fill the screen) but others actually impede the process of obtaining the data that is important to us and in turn, to retailers and consumers.
The top issue: producers that don’t have websites. We’ve moved into 2010 and the computer and internet age is not really new anymore. People talk about Web 2.0 and social networking and building your brand online. However, I’m still often unable to locate even one reliable site containing information about some products. Well worded searches onAbleGrapeonly go so far,it’s a great search engine for wine but it can only give me information that’s out there. What if there’s nothing? The item in our database will often go without when this is the case and unfortunately, there is little we can do about it short of emailing or calling the producer (if contact information is even available). That can become extremely time consuming and isn’t usually done.
The other large issue is having a site, but neglecting to put up information about specific products. It’s great learning about the history of a vineyard and seeing a picture of your dog but there is a certain level of information that should be present in your online platform. Most importantly, the names of products should be available, as well as some brief information about the grape and region. Of course, the more, the better. I’d love to see a photo and description for every product but if nothing else, the essential information should always be present.
But possibly the most frustrating type of website is one that has photos and descriptions but they are build into a Flash platform that offers no way to easily grab information or images. While this is a very pretty and smooth looking set-up, it is important to really have either a non-flash option or to provide PDFs (or image files, text documents, etc.) so that your information can be distributed, as you intended it, for use by retail stores to sell the products.
We’re often asked to add content to items in our database and we’re happy to comply, given that the information is available. But because there are a large number of sites that fall into the categories above, it becomes a rather difficult task at times. That’s why we’re looking forward to the industry moving forward and getting more of their information online. It’s going to take some time, but I fully believe that it’s possible.