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Liquor stores are subject to some of the most arcane rules in retailing that vary dramatically by state or county. For example, certain types of liquor may not be sold at certain times. As a result, record keeping is complicated and the costs for not complying can be very high. Additionally, in some states, distributors are assigned by the state to particular retailers. Further complicating matters, different tax rates may apply to different products, making point-of-sale transactions even more complex.
General ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll are all software features that are typical to general retail. And while there may be some customer relationship management issues specific to liquor store retail, inventory management presents the biggest challenge because of the number of different items on-hand.
While evaluating systems, buyers should consider the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Localization||Liquor laws vary greatly, sometimes even within the same state. Compliance is particularly challenging to chain stores where each location may have different regulations. The system needs to support localization to support any required compliance reporting.|
|Inventory management||In addition to typical inventory management, liquor store inventory software must show the supplier for each bottle. Jurisdictions have different requirements for how long records must be kept.|
|Integration with distributors||The inventory system should integrate with distributors’ systems to make ordering easier, and to provide advance shipment notice (ASN) to make receiving inventory more accurate and less prone to shrinkage.|
|ID scanning||The system should scan and retain ID information for buyers and verify that the format of the ID is correct. However, it is often impractical to validate the IDs against government databases.|
|Employee auditing||One of the key management reports is the employee audit, which looks at profitability and transactions by employee. This helps protect the bottom line and helps prevent inventory shrinkage by holding employees accountable.|
|Security system integration||These stores in particular benefit from integration between the liquor store POS system and a security system, linking security recordings with transaction records.|
|UPC code database||Liquor stores carry small amounts of many items. Building an inventory from scratch could take weeks; the inventory system must include a UPC code catalog with descriptions for common items to save time in building the inventory.|
|Price maintenance and sale management||Prices in stores usually change by manufacturer or by class of item. The system should accept percent or dollar amount price changes across these areas.|
|Gift set packaging||One of the key promotions for liquor stores are gift sets. The liquor store POS system must support gift set sales for a single price but correctly decrease inventory levels for the individual items when a gift set is sold.|