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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 7, 2016

There are two types of gift shops: One is the standalone shop, where you buy gifts, decorative items and knickknacks. The other is affiliated with an organization or attraction, such as a hospital, museum or amusement center. Each has similar issues, primarily having to do 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. Point of Sale (POS) is a key component. Gift shops that are affiliated with organizations have the additional challenge of sharing information with the accounting system for the organization.

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.

Common Features 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 interface 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; not all can provide online catalog access. The system needs to provide a catalog of product 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 part of the organization’s system. Alternatively, the gift shop’s systems, all or part of them, can integrate with the organization’s systems and pass information, like membership names, inventory values and transaction amounts, between the systems.
Member discounts The system must support the 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. Examples include 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.

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