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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 22, 2017


As retail businesses face a growing number of operational complexities, managing processes using traditional spreadsheets and manual methods are no longer viable options. Retail point-of-sales (POS) solutions help retailers automate manual and error-prone tasks, giving them the much needed time to focus on other important activities.

This buyer’s guide is intended to help you evaluate the right software for your gift shop business. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Gift Shop POS Software
Common Functionality of Gift Shop POS Software
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Gift Shop POS Software?

There are two types of gift shops: One is the stand-alone shop, where you buy gifts, decorative items and knick-knacks. The other is affiliated with an organization or attraction, such as a hospital, museum or amusement center. Each has similar issues, primarily associated with inventory. Depending on the gift shop, stock items can vary in price from a few cents to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, gift store transactions can trigger IRS 8300 or Patriot Act Anti-Money Laundering compliance reporting.

For either type of gift shop, general ledger, payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable are typical functions. POS is also a key component. Gift shops that are affiliated with organizations have an additional challenge, in that they must of share information with the accounting system for the organization.

In addition, there are some interesting customer relationship management (CRM) issues for gift shops. 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.

Common Functionality of Gift Shop POS Software

Gift shop owners should examine the following functions to meet their unique requirements:

Vendor catalog integration Because of the number of potential items carried in a gift shop, it is very useful to have the inventory system integrate directly with vendors’ catalogs. The system can download description information and pricing to support order entry, inventory receiving and inventory setup.
UPC database What constitutes “giftware” is nebulous at best. Inventory is available from numerous vendors, and not all of them can provide online catalog access. The system needs to provide a catalog of products and UPCs. The catalog must be updated frequently or better yet, available online.
Integration If the gift shop is part of a larger organization, there are two options. First, the POS, inventory and the rest can simply be a part of the organization’s larger system. Alternatively, the gift shop’s systems, all or part of them, can integrate with the organization’s systems and share information, such as membership names, inventory values and transaction amounts, between the systems.
Member discounts The system must support a membership discount program, if one is offered. The system should track which items are discounted and by what amount. It should also track which items are on sale and whether or not sale items are also discounted.
Work orders Many gift shops offer special services. For example, framing and engraving. The system needs to track the work orders, post deposits and notify the customer when the work is complete.
Collectibles subscriptions Some customers buy collectibles as soon as they are available, for example, Christmas ornaments, limited-edition graphics or numbered figurines. Some go so far as to buy a certain proof of a collectible, such as always buying the 32nd print of each lithograph from a particular artist. The gift shop inventory, CRM and order entry systems should interact to prepare an order for the correct items and to notify customers when the items are available.
Special orders The system should handle special orders. It should track deposits, integrate with order entry to place orders and notify the customer when the order is received.
Gift registry The system should support a gift registry. Customers should be able to register for desired merchandise by name and event. The system should track which items have been purchased and what is still on the list.
Patriot Act anti-money laundering reporting The system should provide Patriot Act AML-required reports when purchases of “covered goods” of $50,000 or more are made in a single year.
Support for IRS form 8300 If a person pays for merchandise with $10,000 or more in cash, the systems should flag the transaction and generate information for IRS Form 8300.

Market Trends to Understand

The gift shop retail POS software market is gradually evolving with the introduction of new features and the changing needs of retailers. For example, Shopify POS solution enables retailers to manage orders from from mobile devices, such as iPads and iPhones.

Retail software buyers should keep in mind the below mentioned trends as they analyze POS solutions:

  • Increase in mobile payments and digital wallets. Electronic payments have proven to be quick, safe and convenient for both retailers and customers.The retail industry is shifting from cash transactions to cashless alternatives using credit cards and digital wallets, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Capital One. So, it becomes important for retailers to embrace digital payments capabilities in their gift shops.
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  • Client retention through CRM modules. CRM modules enable retailers to retain existing clients as well as draw in new ones by running promotional campaigns, spreading brand awareness and managing social media marketing. Further, advanced systems assist gift shop retailers to send email and text campaigns, including vouchers codes or cashback offers on special occasions, such as anniversaries, birthdays and festivals.
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  • Integration of inventory management. The right level of inventory is essential for cost-effective and streamlined retail operations. Low inventory levels increase the risk of stock shortages while high inventory levels harm the profitability of retail operations. In order to prevent such situations, vendors are integrating inventory management functionalities with POS solutions. In addition, advanced retail solutions provide real-time inventory tracking capabilities to send automated notifications every time inventory reaches the minimum prescribed limit.
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  • Ease of using mobile POS. This functionality is useful for retailers who report active sales from remote locations, such as events, kiosks and tradeshows. Mobile POS enables gift shop retailers to process transactions wirelessly and review inventory levels from remote locations.

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