Photo courtesy of our friends and customer, A1 Cash and Carry.
In contrast to traditional retail stores, cash and carry businesses operate as more of a wholesale distribution business, and typically cater strictly to other businesses (B2B customers) as opposed to the end consumer. However, what makes them similar to any retail store, is that customers must pay on the spot for the goods purchased. Typically this is done by cash and not on account (hence the name) and customers are then responsible for transporting the goods themselves.
In addition to these types of walk-in customers, many cash and carry businesses still provide traditional wholesale services, in which customers order product to be delivered at a later date and pay once an invoice is received. Most cash and carry businesses operate retail sales from the front of their warehouse. Product is stored like any other wholesale distribution company, but point of sale (POS) systems and check-out counters are set up near the front and customers are invited to shop the warehouse floor themselves.
In order to successfully manage your cash and carry business, proper inventory and accounting ERP software is a must.ERP software or Enterprise Resource Planning systems, are designed to manage all aspects of a company’s operations. This includes inventory, accounting, contact management, order entry and processing, warehouse management and everything in between. As a cash and carry business, however, you also want a system that provides full point of sale functionality.
There are lots of benefits to be gained from using proper POS software in a retail setting, especially if that software is fully integrated with a back-end ERP solution. These benefits include:
- Automatic calculation of sales commissions
- Inventory detail lookup including multiple warehouse locations, items on order, backorder etc.
- The ability to manage multiple ‘in-progress’ transactions on the same terminal
- Multiple payment types including ‘on account’
- Integration with accounting system, GL, AR, inventory; commissions, booked sales reports, and taxes
POS is a necessary feature for cash and carry operations and is becoming more popular among other non-traditional retail operations. For example, many distributors also cater to walk-in customers or provide showrooms open to the public. No matter the situation, the best POS software will also allow users to continue to process sales orders even in the event of a network failure. Offline POS functionality means that users can continue to process orders, with the system automatically uploading orders into the back-end when a connection is re-established. The main benefit to offline POS is that it makes it possible to continue operations if the internet goes down – an imperative feature when you have a store full of customers.
Learn more about Point of Sale Functionality
Although POS functionality is one of the most important and obvious features to look for, other functionality may be necessary depending on the nature of the business. For example, most ERP systems will also provide functionality for credit card processing and pre-authorizations, barcode scanning and printing of barcode labels, and warehouse shipping for more efficient pick, pack and ship processes. If your cash and carry business also deals with perishable items, lot tracking functionality is important in order to track expiry dates and specific lot/batches of product. Proper lot tracking means that in the event of a recall, only those specific lot/batches of product affected need to be recalled. This, in turn, will save your business time and money, and reduce the amount of negative impact on your customers.
In summary, Cash and Carry Business Software should include (at a minimum) the following functionality:
- Inventory management
- Accounting (AR, AP, GL etc.)
- Point of Sale functionality for use at checkout counters
- Additional order entry and processing tools for managing other order types
- Lot tracking features (when dealing with perishable goods, potentially harmful items, or expiry dates)
- Credit card processing
- Barcode scanning
- Customer relationship management