Each retail business is unique, yet for most types of retail, there are more similarities about their merchandise and operations than differences. That’s why it’s often relatively simple to adapt a generic POS system to meet the business’ needs.
The same can’t be said about point of sale software for hardware stores, however. The incredibly detailed inventory of a typical hardware store and the unique relationships the store owners and employees have with their customers can tax the capabilities of a generic, off-the-shelf POS system.
These are the key features and functions to look for when choosing point of sale software for hardware stores.
Why Hardware Store POS Systems Are Unique
One of the great pleasures of shopping is discovering the one-of-a-kind products and services that a retailer offers. Whether the store is large or small, a multi-location chain, or a mom-and-pop operation, a shopper never knows what treasure they may come across as they browse the store’s wares.
That uniqueness goes double for hardware stores, whose product inventories can easily number in the thousands. Inventory management for hardware stores is further complicated by the minute differences between items, such as the dozens or hundreds of different types of screws the store may sell.
Products sold by specialty hardware stores range from farm and ranch equipment to hunting and camping supplies. This is usually in addition to typical hardware store offerings such as tools, plumbing and electrical supplies, lawn and garden equipment, and cleaning supplies.
The Benefits of POS Software for Hardware Stores
Like other retailers, hardware stores have to keep up with the expectations of their customers. Point of sale software provides hardware stores with new views into which products are most popular with customers, and which are generating the most profit for the stores. Three POS features in particular bring hardware store managers and employees closer to their customers:
- Advanced customer relationship management allows the stores to personalize the shopping experience for their clients by maintaining a history of their past purchases.
- An integrated POS dashboard puts inventory levels, prices, and other information at associates’ fingertips, allowing them to respond quickly and accurately to customers’ questions.
- Wireless connections allow POS apps to run on smartphones and tablets that hardware store employees can bring to customers when and where they’re shopping rather than requiring that customers queue up at a crowded information desk.
A special consideration for hardware store inventory management is the need to include a material safety data sheet (MSDS) with some items when they’re purchased. POS software ensures that such products are easy to identify so that customers receive the safety information they need and stores comply with all regulations.
Features of POS Software for Hardware Stores
Many of the functions that hardware stores need in a POS system are typical of any retail business, such as links to accounts payable and receivable, general ledger, financial reporting, and employee scheduling. Other POS capabilities are unique to hardware stores:
- An integrated parts database and UPC catalog to accommodate the large number of inventory items that must be tracked and updated frequently.
- The ability to sell by measure for accurately pricing bulk items that are sold in cut portions, such as lumber, rope, wire, and chains.
- Shelf and bin locations to help customers quickly find the products they seek; this also facilitates physical (manual) inventory management.
- The ability to generate estimates for customers, create orders for out-of-stock items, and write up special orders.
- Support for contractor sales, including the ability to apply discounts, track sales terms and lines of credit, and connect to business customers’ billing systems.
- Job costing features that track multiple jobs for contractors and do-it-yourself customers.
- Support for seasonal items, such as road salt and holiday decorations in the winter and barbecues and lawn furniture in the summer.
- The ability to accommodate special orders and work orders, including deposit tracking and customer notification when the item arrives or the job is finished.
POS Features that Help Hardware Stores Manage Their Inventory
Because so many hardware store inventory items are similar, modern POS systems include capabilities designed specifically to facilitate tracking thousands of separate products, many of which have only small, subtle differences. These are among the POS options that help manage a hardware store’s inventory:
- Look up items by description.
- Display images of items.
- Show an item’s inventory level by case, box, and single unit.
- Interface with handheld scanners and other mobile devices for manual inventory counts.
Inventory management via POS offers hardware stores several advantages:
- Cloud-based data storage lets the business view all inventory at various stages: on order, in stock, and now being sold.
- Purchase order management, including deliveries and stock volumes, can be streamlined and automated.
- Sales analytics allow stores to spot trends and adjust inventory quickly to capitalize on changing customer preferences.
- Efficient inventory management allows hardware stores to stock more items in the same space without worrying about running low on popular items.
Like other retailers, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced hardware stores to focus more on their online orders. POS software makes it easy for the stores to combine the management of their online and on-premises sales to ensure accurate inventory counts regardless of the sales channels customers use.
Modern POS features are no longer the sole province of large retailers. Small hardware stores can take advantage of advanced inventory management features such as loss prevention to minimize product leakage and predictive ordering that analyzes sales trends automatically and reports the products that customers are most likely to purchase in the future.
Perhaps the most important consideration when choosing a POS system for a hardware store or any other retail operation is to find a partner who will work with you to customize a POS solution that checks all the boxes: the right mix of features, a clear and intuitive interface, and a price that the business can afford. POS software is the key to delivering the products and levels of service that hardware store customers have come to expect.
When you partner with talech for your hardware store’s technology needs, we devote our time to identify your business challenges. We use this information to work with you to apply an innovative POS solution that levels the playing field.