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Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 23, 2017


Hardware stores specialize in the retail of household goods and materials, including:

  • Tools
  • Lawn and garden equipment
  • Plumbing and electrical
  • Cleaning supplies

Specialty hardware stores may also sell items such as farm or ranch equipment and even hunting supplies.

POS software for hardware and building materials stores helps business owners automate nearly every aspect of their business, from managing inventory to customer checkout and balancing the books.

These systems offer increased visibility into business operations, allowing owners to track trends and relationships that impact profitability. As such, these systems play an integral role in the success of retail stores of all size, from mom-and-pop hardware shops to enterprise-level home improvement retail chains.

With the emergence of new digital technologies such as iPads, credit card processors and electronic barcoding solutions it’s easier than ever for hardware and building materials stores to maintain accurate shop records.

We’ve created this guide to help business owners evaluate and compare the various solutions on the market and make a more informed purchase decision.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is Hardware POS software?
Common Features and Capabilities of Hardware POS Software
Expected Benefits of Using Hardware POS Software

What is Hardware POS software?

Hardware POS software supports the business processes unique to hardware stores, such as:

  • Unified point of sale (POS) dashboard: Track sales made in both brick-and-mortar and online stores
  • Inventory management: Know the status of every piece of merchandise, whether it’s in stock or on backorder, and be able to pull up the price and available discounts upon request
  • Physical inventory counting process: Some of the products sold by a hardware store must be accompanied by a material safety data sheet (MSDS)
  • Reporting and trends analysis: Create customized dashboards to track sales and profitability, customer trends and more or export data as a report to take a snapshot of current standing.

 

Point of sale dashboard in RetailSTAR

Point of sale dashboard in RetailSTAR

Additional “back office” or administration requirements include:

There are some peculiarities for the customer relationship management (CRM) and POS. These are primarily in the areas of job costing and estimating. They affect both contractors and do-it-yourselfers.

Common Features and Capabilities of Hardware POS Software

When evaluating POS software, hardware store owners should keep the following functions in mind to ensure the new system meets their unique business and industry requirements.

Common Hardware POS Features
Integrated parts database and UPC catalog Because of the large number of hardware items, the system needs to provide a catalog of products and UPCs. The catalog must be updated frequently or better yet, available online.
Sell by measure Hardware stores sell many bulk items that are sold in cut portions. Examples include lumber, chain, rope and wire. The system should handle selling by measure for these items. The inventory should be accurately tracked, including accounting for all scrap.
Shelf and bin location The inventory and POS systems should support locating products by shelf and bin location. In addition to providing better customer support, having inventory location assists with the physical inventory process.
Estimating The POS and inventory system should allow estimates to be prepared. If the customer accepts the estimate, the system should be able to generate a customer order easily. It should generate orders for stock not on hand and special orders as necessary.
Contractor sales The system should support contractor sales. It should calculate discounts, track terms and provide billing. It should also track lines of credit and notify the customer and back office staff when credit thresholds are reached.
Job costing The system should be able to track multiple jobs, for both contractors and do-it-yourselfers. The job costing should be part of the POS. A single transaction should be able to be split over multiple jobs. The job should include the customer’s job number. Each customer should be able to have multiple jobs concurrently.
Seasonal orders The system should recommend or order seasonal merchandise; for example, salt and holiday decorations for the winter and barbecue grills in the summer. The system should also support inventory sell-versus-store decisions at the end of each season.
Kit sales Hardware stores often sell plans and materials as single kits; for example, to build a storage shed or a play set. The system should correctly decrease the individual parts inventory counts when a kit is sold.
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.
Work orders Many hardware stores offer special services. Examples include rescreening and engraving. The system needs to track the work orders, post deposits and notify the customer when the work is complete.
Material safety data sheet (MSDS) handling OSHA requires that the required MSDS for a product to be delivered by the seller, but only for certain customers. The systems should have a repository of MSDS The POS and CRM systems should printout required data sheets at the time of sale.
Common Hardware POS Capabilities
Gift registry For a variety of reasons, hardware stores are starting to maintain gift registries. 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.
Rental management The system should have a rental management module. It should track costs, billing, maintenance and equipment lifecycle management.
Lookup by description Since many hardware items are similar, the POS needs a look up by description, which can narrow the range of items. The the clerk or customer then can select from a limited list.
Inventory images The system must show pictures of the items. The images should be available during ordering, receiving, selling and physical inventory.
Case/unit breakdown Many hardware parts are ordered in cases and sold in as cases, boxes or singles. The POS system should decrease the inventory properly how ever the items are sold.
Physical inventory system The system should support physical inventory. It should interface with handheld devices to record the count. It should create physical inventory sheets by location as well as item number. The count sheets should have the option to display the image.

Expected Benefits of Using Hardware POS Software

Investing in POS software can benefit your business in several ways, including:

Improved workflows: Prior to POS software, sales associates had to physically check the stockroom and sales floor to answer customer inquiries about pricing or inventory levels. Now, associates can respond to questions about product levels, cost and more simply by checking their POS dashboard. This not only creates a smoother customer experience, but employees can special order a part for a customer or check inventory levels at other store locations on the spot.

Better employee management: Using your POS for scheduling can help ensure proper staffing levels so employees are neither over or under worked. Use historical staffing data to anticipate increased staffing needs around holidays to ensure you have enough people scheduled to work at that time.

Enhanced customer service: Create a customer database to provide a more personalized shopping experience. Sales associates can use purchase history to help with current sales. For example, if the customer is looking for a lawn mower part, the associate can look up what model lawn mower they bought to help locate the part more easily.

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