Furniture and home decor stores face challenges on three fronts. First, there is the sheer size of the inventory, both in scope and in actual physical dimensions. Second, there are the options that the store has to pay for stock inventory. Third, there are the options that customers have to pay for purchases.
Furniture and decor items can range in size from sitting on a coffee table to filling an entire room. Often, purchases are delivered directly to the customer. The POS system must handle delivery scheduling and there should be a module for route planning for delivery. Inventory may be located on the showroom floor, in a storeroom, or in a separate warehouse. Items are generally one of three types; stock, special order, and customize to order. The POS should handle customization options and take deposits.
Expensive furniture, decor, and antique inventory is often floorplanned. The inventory system and the accounts payable system must share information to calculate floorplan amounts and payments.
Installment sales are the rule for furniture; stores either factor the sale or carry the paper. In the first case, the system needs to calculate the discount and notify the factoring company. In the second case, the POS and the accounts receivable system must calculate payments (including “no interested for X months” calculations) and generate coupon books, if required.
Payroll is standard, but most furniture and decor retailers need support for commissions and sales quotas. General ledger is standard, but there tend to be many corrective entries as accounts payable and receivables change; for example, if a customer takes longer to pay then 24 months, then the interest rate changes from zero percent to 22 percent. Most systems are run on-premises, but software as a service (SaaS) offerings are available and cloud-based systems are attractive alternatives for those upgrading existing computer systems or replacing paper-based systems.
Key Requirements for Furniture & Decor Retailers
We often hear interested buyers ask, "What's the best furniture store software?" While it's hard to drill-down to just one vendor that offers the best POS for furniture store, these are the requirements that buyers should inquire about. In addition to core business functions, furniture and decor retailers should consider the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Floor planning||The system needs to track which items are floorplanned and the due dates for payments. If a floorplanned item is sold, the system needs to post the transaction through to accounts payable for payment.|
|Suite sales||Furniture and decor items are often sold in suites, for example a dining room with a table, chairs, and buffet. The POS and inventory should properly price the sales of suites and individual items and reset inventory valuation as necessary.|
|Factoring||The system should support factoring accounts receivable. It should prepare factoring documentation as required and correctly update the accounts receivable system.|
|Credit sales||The POS and accounts receivable need to properly handle credit sales. It must handle variable terms and promotional terms. It must be able to handle a mix of store-held paper and factored credit.|
|Layaway||The POS system should allow customers to put products on layaway and identify the item as such in the inventory system. The layaway payments should be treated as deposits in the general ledger.|
|Promotional pricing||The system should allow sale and promotional pricing. The pricing should change in the POS and inventory automatically at a specified time and date, if desired.|
|Line management||Pieces of furniture and decor items are often produced as part of a line. The system should track which other items are available in stock and which are available by special order.|
|Delivery scheduling||The POS system should be able to schedule deliveries at the time of purchase. Fulfillment systems should be able to plot delivery routes for each day.|
|Customizing/special order||Many items are available customized to order, a basic frame with a choice of finishes or upholstery. The POS system should be able to quote for customized-to-order goods, estimate finish dates, and schedule pick up or delivery.|
|Inventory tracking||The system should be able to track the location of each item, whether it is on the floor, in the stockroom, or in the warehouse. For chain stores, furniture retail software should track which showroom has the items and allow in store transfers or customer pick up at other locations.|
|Appointment management||Stores that have sales quotas or commission pay should have an appointment system to support the sales representatives. Customers can ask for availability and schedule appointments with specific sales reps if desired. Advanced systems will have self-service appointment systems available on-line.|
|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.|
Market Trends and Recent Events You Should Know About
There are a few things furniture store software buyers should be paying attention to:
- Software as a Service - Retail furniture software buyers have more options than ever when it comes to managing their store, with more vendors offering multiple deployment options. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are deployed online, giving you access to inventory management and POS from any supported web browser. Updates and patches for your system are downloaded and installed, with IT support bundled into the month-to-month pricing model. Your POS and inventory management systems are hosted by the vendor, and easily sync with your online storefront. And because upfront costs are low, these solutions tend to be more affordable than traditional on-premise deployment options.
- Support for mobile devices - Furniture software systems are increasingly offering retail solutions with mobile capabilities. Some of the best furniture software store vendors are developing native apps for mobile devices that put the power of your register in an employee’s pocket. With mobile technology, employees can review inventory availability, create purchase orders, and schedule shipping directly from the sales floor via their smartphones or tablets. And with ecommerce integration, Mobile versions of your online storefront allow customers to browse your product or track orders on the go.
- Furniture retailers are getting social - Social media is gaining weight as a serious business tool in many retail markets, and furniture retailers are finding value in it as well. Most recently, FurnitureDealer.net launched a social and business network in Spring 2012. By connecting local retailers, suppliers and consumers online, in hopes of combating pure ecommerce vendors in this space. The platform allows consumers to browse local products and stores 24 hours a day, To date there are about 1,000 retailers on the network.