Mobile point of sale vendor Revel Systems is working to make sure its efforts to serve the winemaking industry bear fruit.

The vendor has built a customized iPad point of sale platform for wineries, with functions that handle tastings, marketing, lecture content and shipping.

"Generally a customer has to go to a counter to purchase wines at the winery," says Chris Ciabarra, CTO and co-founder of Revel Systems. "This way they can check out right then and there when they are in the vineyard or learning about the wine."

Revel developed this version of its product at the request of Hall Wines in St. Helena, Calif. The winery uses Revel's technology on 20 iPads.

"We build our industry-specific apps by engaging and working with the merchants in that industry," Ciabarra says. "The winery came to us, and said they had three or four entry points for their data, which was too complex."

Revel's point of sale technology is cloud-based, allowing merchants to adjust the number of tablets they use at each location. Its winery payments platform also handles compliance, such as by helping identify which U.S. states allow wineries to ship directly to consumers and which require a third party distributor.

Revel integrated its app with ShipCompliant, a Web application that manages shipping compliance by managing a database of rules that are updated regularly. When a winery enters a consumer's address, Revel's can information for that location to handle taxes and determine how that wine can be shipped.

"The wine business is much more complex than other types of retail," Ciabarra says.

Winery staffers can use Revel's software to check inventory and other data on wine from the field. Winery guests can place orders from a vineyard tour or at an event. Wine educators can access information on tastings, and can draw on data on the winery's products to inform their discussions with potential buyers or tourists. The winery platform includes customer relationship management (CRM) tools to better inform marketing and other customer interactions.

Other companies are starting to approach the wine business with new technology for payments and merchant services. NakedWines, for example, operates an e-commerce site that allows winemakers to accept funds from investors and offer discount pricing. And ShopKeep POS got its start in a Brooklyn wine shop.

Mobile point of sale companies are facing pressure from independent software vendors, which also offer customized point of sale systems for merchant segments, says Rick Oglesby, a payments analyst.

"You can find dedicated point of sale solutions for yoga studios, spas, medical practices drugstores, pizza delivery shops, wineries and many more," Oglesby says. "Mobile point of sale providers that are targeting specialized businesses therefore need to compete with their PC-based predecessors. Revel specifically has targeted larger, more specialized merchants from the start, as opposed to competing with Square and several others that play in the more general-purpose market."

Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst at Celent, was less bullish on the wine industry for a mobile point of sale play.

"I'm slightly surprised that something is being designed specifically for the wine selling and shipping industry," he says. "Typically, you would design for large, complex markets or with large customer bases."

Revel did not name any other companies using its customized wine software, though Ciabarra says there is a substantial market in the category.

"And the point of sale system that wineries tend to use are old and hard to deal with," he says. "The industry is ripe for a technology upgrade."

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