Footwear is difficult inventory. A single shoe in three colors in standard sizes and widths could be as many as 108 different stock keeping units (SKUs). There may be matching accessories, which may also be in colors and sizes. Then there are special orders for the styles and sizes that are not in stock. There are even shoes that can be dyed to match the color of a particular outfit. Shoe sales are fiercely competitive; programs to encourage customer loyalty are common. So, shoe stores are adopting electronic communications as part of maintaining customer relationships.
Because of the complexity of the inventory, order entry and inventory receiving are critical functions. Payroll is standard, although commissions sales are the rule. Accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger are also standard. While most systems are premises based, software as a service (SaaS) is a small but growing option for retail shoe store systems.
There are some interesting customer relationship management (CRM) issues. Usually, one of the benefits of being a supporting member of the organization, for example, a contributing member of a museum, is a discount at the gift shop. Another factor is subscription sales. Some gift stores sell limited-edition items; patrons can subscribe to the items and receive a notification when a new group is in stock.
Point of sale (POS) software is a business management solution for retailers that helps them manage their inventory control, point-of-sales operations and retail accounting operations. POS software allows users to manage both in-store as well as online purchases and transactions.
Most of the products offer a barcode scanner integration that allows retailers to read product information using the barcode labels. This functionality enables faster and efficient checkouts at the payment counter. Some vendors in the market also offer POS hardware along with the software set, which comprises of cash registers, a printer, customer screen and barcode reader. Alternately, users can also choose to deploy their software on their personal devices, such as PCs, Mac computers and iPads.
There are both cloud-based and on-premise products in the POS software market. While cloud-based systems offer ease of use for non-technical business users, the on-premise systems offer lower costs for long-term use.
In addition to the core accounting functions, footwear and shoe store operators should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Size, width and color matrix||The key to a successful footwear inventory software system is a matrix of modifiers. The general description is entered once and the sizes, widths and colors are listed as modifiers to the basic description. The inventory must track each item as a separate SKU and maintain separate reorder points.|
|Accessory coordination||Many shoe makers provide matching accessories, such as belts and handbags. In other cases, different manufacturers make accessories to “coordinate” with shoes. The inventory and POS system should list matching accessories on hand and available as special orders.|
|Customer relationship management||Because of competition from online, warehouse and department stores, shoe specialty stores have aggressively adopted CRM. In particular, they are adopting social networking by establishing Facebook pages and tweeting coupons to registered customers. The system should also track color, style and designer preferences to notify customers when new shipments are due.|
|Customer loyalty program||As part of CRM and to further solidify customer relations, many shoe stores have customer loyalty programs. The store system should track sales history and monitor loyalty program points awarded and redeemed.|
|Prescription management||If the shoe store offers orthopedic supplies, the system needs to track prescriptions for clients and doctor contact information. The system should also notify customers if prescriptions should be updated, for example, as children grow they need to have their prescriptions changed.|
|UPC database||Because of the large number of shoes, other footwear and accessories from numerous vendors, the system needs to provide a catalog of products and UPCs. The catalog must be updated frequently or better yet, available online.|
|Split tender||The system must be able to accept payment over several different methods. For example, a customer may want to pay with cash and two different credit cards. The system must properly apply the split payments to the correct ledger accounts.|
|Package sales||The system should support combining different inventory items into a single package. The POS should treat the package as a single SKU, but correctly adjust the inventory level for each item.|
|Inventory images||Since many shoes are similar, the inventory system should show pictures of the inventory. Advanced systems will be able to show each item in the inventory in all available colors.|
The landscape of footwear retail is constantly changing due to advances in both POS hardware and software technologies. Below are a few trends that are shaping up the footwear and shoe retail software market:
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