I have been asked to put together some thoughts on what separates our gift shop software from an off the shelf package such as MYOB or QuickPOS. This is what I’ve prepared so far.

Specialist gift shop point of sale software can do more than track sales. It can drive the business on many fronts – increasing sales, reducing costs and enhancing the sale value of the business.

Gift shop owners ought to consider specialist gift shop facilities when considering the best IT solution for their business. For example, the following tools will not be found in generic off the shelf POS software:

Fast Seller Tracking. It is challenging to watch every item in the shop. Fast Seller tools do this for you and alert the owner when an item is moving faster than in the past or faster than other items in the category. Knowing this allows the business to respond and use this traffic to build other sales.

Employee sales tracking. Knowing who sold what and when allows the business to pay incentives for success. Major retailers use commissions very effectively to get employees from behind the counter and into the body of the shop guiding customers to purchase.

Basket analysis. Knowing what customers are buying with what helps you analyse your business beyond raw sales success. For example, if you sell a range of glassware it may be that one item, not the top seller, is sold more often with other items and thereby is more ‘efficient’ for the business. While strong single sales are good, sales with multiple items are more valuable for a gift shop as it boosts the margin per sale.

Rewarding Customers. With the fuel and other loyalty programs around today it is important for a gift shop to have a loyalty offer. The best loyalty offers are those which bring people back to your shop to accrue rewards which can then be spent in store. Good gift shop software will track customer purchases and allow you to build a reward system which builds your business.

Analysing sales. Unlike other retailers, gift shops are individual businesses, often carrying items which are one off. Sales therefore need to be coded so that the owner can track the department, category and supplier equally with the individual items. This enables buying to be within the successful categories if not the exact same item. Armed with this information at trade shows helps nurture better buying.

Ratios. Good business starts with good measurement and good measurement is all about ratios – return on floor space, return on investment and stock turn. While a gift shop may look attractive and have friendly staff, if the stock is not turning the business will fail. Goof gift shop software will allow you to track departments, categories and items at the return on investment and return on floor space level – to determine if the items you like are really justifying their position in your store.

Too many gift shops run off a docket book and cash drawer. This denies the owner the opportunity to drive the business and achieve the best possible return.