Posted: May 8, 2013, 10 p.m. EST
How the right point-of-sale system can simplify inventory management.
By Keith Loria
Taking inventory is one of the most time-consuming, labor-intensive and important tasks every pet retailer faces. A recent report by the National Retail Federation revealed that U.S. retailers lost more than $224 billion in 2012 due to holding excess inventory and $45 billion from not stocking enough.
A point-of-sale (POS) system can help pet retailers track what’s in stock, run leaner on inventory and put their money in the right products at the right time. Point-of-sale systems don’t just ring up current sales; they also can amass vital, real-time information about a store’s inventory and customers.
A point-of-sale system can complete sales transactions and help manage inventory. Carrie Brenner/I-5 Publishing at Pet Stop Warehouse
According to industry insiders, the biggest advantage of a POS system is its ability to provide immediate, up-to-the-minute and accurate inventory assessments. Each time a sale is completed, the goods purchased are subtracted from an inventory list maintained on a system’s hard drive and available for viewing at any time.
All Systems Go
ShopKeep POS provides small businesses with an iPad POS system designed to simplify purchasing, credit card processing and printing or emailing receipts.
"Supported by a powerful, cloud-based BackOffice system, merchants are able to easily manage inventory, employees and customers in real time,” said Paul Nugent, community manager for ShopKeep POS. "At its heart, ShopKeep POS is about giving merchants access to the information they need when they need it, enabling them to make smarter decisions about inventory, stocking and every other aspect of their business.”
For example, if dog treat sales are hot, ShopKeep’s detailed ClearInsight reports highlight the need to increase the reorder; if another product’s sales are flat, the reports will reflect that, as well.
"Inputting my inventory of dog treats and accessories, and setting up my register buttons, was as simple as it gets,” said John Litton, owner of Lucky Dog’s DIY Dog Wash in College Station, Texas, who uses ShopKeep. "My employees used it immediately and intuitively. I hardly had to train them.”
MerchantOS, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of cloud-based POS software, works with a number of pet retailers around the country, said Ivan Stanojevic, the company’s CEO.
"Our software enables you to track your purchase orders from creation to inventory check-in,” Stanojevic said. "Outgoing inventory is tracked through our register functionality, and we keep tabs on everything to tell you exactly what you have remaining. We also provide additional functions based on tracking your inventory, such as special-order tracking, layaway tracking, reporting and inventory counting. We’re beginning to really focus on inventory counting as a way for retailers to keep their accuracy up.”
Systems West is a San Diego-based business software solution company that offers two POS systems.
"We have Perennial for general retail, which functions as an inventory management system for retailers and allows them to sell items, set prices and keep track of customers,” said Chris Thaeler, support technician with Systems West. "EZ POS does all that but also has advanced reporting so you can see at a glance exactly what your store is doing.”
Both software systems offer automated purchase ordering and optional QuickBooks integration, Thaeler said, adding that once an item gets low, retailers won’t have to worry about re-ordering; the system does it.
Suzi Lee, operations manager for TailsSpin, with three Georgia locations, uses Version 10 of Intuit’s QuickBooks Point of Sale System.
"When we receive items, we enter the product descriptions, UPCs and quantities into the POS,” Lee said. "Once this is done, we can count the number of any items we have on the shelf at any time and compare that to the number that the POS reports we should have on hand. When there are discrepancies, we make a quantity adjustment with a reason why it occurred. At our stores, we carry over 10,000 individual items. Without a point-of-sale system it would be impossible to keep track of item loss.”
Keeping track of quantity adjustments allows the store to look for patterns as to why product is missing or if a product constantly is being returned, Lee said, adding that the POS system can network multiple stores, making it easier to spot inventory that might have been incorrectly received for the wrong store.
"Let’s say I order 20 bags of glucosamine treats for both the Pooler and Savannah stores, but when the product is received, all of it is entered in for the Pooler store, even though each store gets its 20 bags,” she said. "The POS will report that I should have 40 bags at Pooler, but no bags at Savannah. By doing a physical count and comparing it to the POS, I can see that a quantity that seems to be off by such a large number is more likely to be the result of a clerical error.”
ARBA Retail Systems in Naperville, Ill., offers a complete pet store POS inventory control system called the Arbapro POS, which includes inventory tracking and analysis, customer loyalty programs, historical sales data and analysis, purchasing and receiving, controlled purchasing by reorder levels and automatic order recommendations.
The system allows a retailer to run the store from behind the scenes, said Michael Cahill, an ARBA Retail Systems software development support representative, adding that it supports multiple vendors, part numbers and prices per item, makes order recommendations based on facts, and prepares and emails purchase orders to distributors. The sale system also allows a retailer to add new items to inventory during receiving or purchasing and to purchase non-stock items, Cahill said.
Jim Schmidt, owner of Coral Reef in Norridge, Ill., said the Arbapro portable scanner is great for both receiving and physical inventory, and he’ll be upgrading to its newest touchscreen product this summer.
"It’s simplistic, so it’s easy to train people, and it is a very strong and powerful tool that can eliminate the possibility of user error,” he said. "The key is that it helps me get rid of dead inventory. I’m constantly running reports to show me what inventory is a waste of money and that helps a great deal.”
Changing With the Times
Heidi Neal, owner of The Loyal Biscuit Co. in Rockland, Maine, recently switched her POS system from QuickBooks POS to Erply, because she found the latter was better for servicing more than one location and could be accessed from anywhere.
"We have three stores, and we are very much looking forward to getting away from walking around the store with a clipboard to do our weekly orders, not to mention the amount of time we spend keying in the orders with our distributors,” Neal said. "Once our inventory through the POS process is in place, that should shave about six hours of work per week off our payroll. In addition, being a multistore business, we will be able to more accurately have consistent merchandise and quantities among the three locations.”
Del Peterson, president of Northwest Pets Inc., which has two stores in Idaho, upgraded to CounterPoint from NCR in 2011, as the POS allows the store to perform physical inventories much quicker through use of a hand barcode scanner and quick reconciliation by item, department, etc.
"It tracks our entire physical inventory by barcode, allowing us to run a multitude of inventory analysis reports and export our sales and cost of goods sold by department to our accounting software,” Peterson said. "It also facilitates our purchase-order process by automating ordering, either by replenishing what we have sold or ordering based on preset minimum and maximum inventory levels by item.”
CounterPoint also allows the store to integrate the physical store inventory and sales history with its email marketing software program and its e-commerce platform, he said.
"We can market directly by email to customers who purchase specific items, spend over a certain dollar amount or who have not shopped with us for certain period of time,” Peterson said. "We can also directly track the impact of our email marketing efforts on product sales.”<HOME>
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