Increase your store profit every month by avoiding software programs with forever fees. Pay once for software and use the savings to promote your business.
Web-Based Clothing Software
By far the most expensive 'consignment-software alternative' is web-based software. You don't need it to gain mobility or 'work from anywhere'. You can do that for free and avoid the $100/month expense. Web-based software is like flypaper. Once you get stuck to it, costs will sky rocket and you won't be free to switch to another program - not without added expense, data conversion and learning another program.
Need mobility or 'work from anywhere'? Buy a software program that you own for 1 payment, install it on your computer and access that computer 'from anywhere' using free remote-pc software, or, install the software you own on a laptop and take your business with you. Two good options to paying forever to use software in the cloud.
Clothing Software with a Catch
Having a hard time finding all the expenses that will follow once you're locked into a software program? Well, that's by design. Fairly enough all possible costs should be right up there on the front page of every software website emphasized equally with the sales rhetoric but no, you would need to know 1) that hidden fees exist and 2) how to find them. On the websites that do not fairly disclose all possible costs, it's necessary to drill down to sub and sub-sub webpages to dig up what choosing the software will really cost over time.
How can you guard against this unfair and unethical practice? Just ask the software vendor to provide you with a full WRITTEN disclosure (by email) of all possible fees that can be levied, then when this fee and that start popping up after purchase, you'll have solid recourse for getting a full refund (if not getting the attention of the State Attorney General).
Some Common Ploys
"Our annual support fee is optional." or "Free updates with paid annual support!" You won't find 'the catch' within 100 yards of those half truths. The other half is 'support will be denied and (essential) software updates will be withheld if the annual support fee is not paid'.
"You have to buy the software before training will be provided." In other words, you should determine for yourself if the software is suitable for your business and not expect the software vendor's salesperson to assist you with that.
"You must use our integrated credit-card processing." In all known cases the software vendor will get a kickback on every one of your sales and you will be locked into future cost increases because you won't want to buy and learn another software program, so buy a program that doesn't have this requirement.
Is there anything more irritating than buying something then discovering after the money-back period that you're getting hit up for more money?
Oh the worst: Web-based software lures new clients with a 'low monthly outlay' then when limitations are reached and you're locked in, the price escalates considerably. The limitations:
- The 'basic' or 'starter' plan is limited in software features so the IED (Intended Escalation Detonation) is your discovering (after you've invested in learning the software) you need more features! The cost jumps up from $99/month to $149/month for the 'standard' version or $199/month for the 'Enterprise' edition.
- While you might not be thinking of becoming a mega mogul in the consignment business, opening just one more store will double the cost of the software. Web-based programs will at least double the cost and those selling copies of the software may require full price for the new locations.
- Number of users:
- Some vendors charge more if there is more than one 'user' of the software.
- Other vendors raise their 'annual support fee' based upon the number of copies of the software employed.
Take the Easy Path
No-Fee Consignment Software discloses all up front. There is no disclosure of support fees because there are none. Support is available and payment for support is made at the time help is rendered - at rates well below local IT services. Fear mongers will caution that 'you could spend a fortune for support' but in truth not one of our clients in 19 years has paid more than $100 in a year's time and most pay nothing at all.
Prices for our software and hardware are published. There's no 'call for pricing' as a means of roping prospective clients into high-pressure sales pitches. There's no add-on fees for shipping or sales tax (except TX).
The partner you choose to rely upon for software, hardware and support will be a vital part of your business. Chose one that begins the relationship with honesty, pride and integrity.
Clothing is 'clothes' collectively and for reselling purposes includes all apparel (raiment, garments), shoes and accessories worn by man and animal (pet and livestock clothing).
Clothing is categorized in retail stores by gender and age (men, women, children, toddlers and infants) then subdivided into seasonal, size, designer and price.
Because of the large number of inventory items, organization is the key to merchandising in clothing. There must be efficient methods in place for distribution, labeling and sales processing.
Consignment shops acquire inventory from 'consignors' who are usually individuals seeking to convert their unwanted properties into cash.
Consignors retain ownership of the items and the consignee (store owner) may take on responsibility for custody. This risk is often defined in the consignment agreement between the two parties.
The sales proceeds from items that sell are split between the owner of the holdings and the owner of the store by some pre-arranged ratio.
Refunds are typically not allowed as purchasers can inspect items before purchasing them and understand used merchandise is sold 'as is'.
Clothing is a basic necessity of life so 'clothing consignment' is of the most common type of consignment store.
Consignment stores differs from thrift stores (like Goodwill) in that consignment shop owners are in business to make a profit and take items into inventory 'on consignment' while thrift shops receive donations.
Consignment clothing stores generally discount vestments by some defined schedule as they remain unsold. It's common practice to tag all incoming inventory for a month with a colored tag so shoppers and clerks can know how long garments have been in inventory and how much each should be discounted.
Clothing Consignment Software
Try to operate a clothing consignment store without help would be nearly impossible. Hiring help may be cost prohibitive for the number of hours involved and the cost of labor.
Consignment software streamlines the process of taking inventory in, organizing and labeling it, getting it out the door and knowing bottom-line results.
Using software, clothing inventory is categorized like it is in retail stores which makes it possible to keep it organized and process each piece independently. Categories separate clothing into groups and each group can have special tax and discount treatment.
Price labels and hang tags can have barcodes, making it easier to locate and sell items by bar-code scan.
Software allows each consignor to have a designated share of sales proceeds. Friends, relatives, employees and special clients may be granted a higher percentage than patrons. Store owners can receive 100% as well as buy and sell and sell their pre owned merchandise.
A good clothing-software program will allow store owners to use any credit-card processor. Software vendors who require a specific processing service usually get a kickback on every sale the store makes.
Software and Hardware
Receipts can be printed at POS but consignment stores routinely have 'no-return policies' so as a rule receipt printers are an unnecessary expense. Additionally a good software program will include a built-in receipt that prints on plain paper when a receipt is requested.
Cash drawers are a box with a tray and a lock for storing valuables like cash, checks, etc. They ordinarily connect to the receipt printer and opens when the receipt is prints. When a receipt printer is not present, the drawer can connect directly to the computer with a replacement adapter allowing the draw to be opened with a key press or when cash and check payments are processed.
Barcode scanners are plug-and-play input devices like keyboards. All scanners appear to be compatible with consignment software. A way to test a scanner is to open Notepad, leave the cursor in Notepad and scan a code. The bar-code number should appear.
Labels and tags can be printed on sheets using any ink printer or they can be printed from rolls of thermal labels using a label printer.
Ink printers can print receipts but thermal label printers cannot print receipts. They only print labels and hang tags.
Lastly it's simply not advisable to purchase used printers. People are putting them up for sale for a reason - often because they are older, wearing out and failing. Too often stores on budgets cut this corner by purchasing used merchandise then spend the savings on an IT person battling with printer issues.
Tracking and Reselling Clothing Inventory
No-Fee Consignment Software processes consignment, resale, retail, rental and layaway.Consignment differs from resale in several ways:
- Ownership of clothing articles and accessories remains with consignors. Resale items are usually purchased outright with ownership passing to the shop owner upon purchase (from individuals). (Buying from businesses like wholesalers, suppliers and manufacturers is 'retail'.)
- 'Settlement' is the process of paying clients for merchandise. With consignment settlement takes place after items are sold, usually at the end of the month following the month of the sale. Sales proceeds are split between consignors and the shop owner. (BCSS allows for variable %s.)Resale 'settlement' takes place at the time merchandise is purchased. Ownership of articles passes to the shop when payment is made and items are delivered.
- Consigned clothing is typically automatically (or manually) discounted as time passes and articles remain unsold. Resale software commonly has provision for multiple discount schedules that can be applied per item or per category.
- Our resale software has two tax fields for shops in jurisdictions which have more than one taxing authority. The program also allows for clothing to be tax free, taxed at variable rates and taxed 'at or above'.
- Resale ('buy outright' or 'BOR') is purchasing (used) merchandise from people. The resale store pays upon delivery and takes possession.
- Shop-owned inventory is less likely to be automatically discounted. Discounting is left for negotiation between buyer and seller. Our resale software allows for items to be discounted at POS by line item or by invoice, either by percentage or by dollar amount. Invoices can be tax free for resellers.
- Retail is purchasing (new) clothing from businesses (not people) like designers, importers, wholesalers, etc.
- Rental in the software can be the leasing of mall floor space (booths at flea markets, trade shows, etc) and the renting of clothing like formal wear, prom dresses, wedding apparel, etc.
- Layaway Any transaction in our resale software can be designated as a layaway purchase. Typically a down payment is made, a payment schedule is proposed and items are delivered with the final payment. An additional fee can be added for the 'extra work' involved in administering such transactions.
Resale Software Features
A good resale program will have features for minimizing data entry. BCSS can import inventory and client records that are already in spreadsheet form. Otherwise clothing items can be entered in an input screen and price labels can be printed at the time or later. For lots of items, data-entry clerks can enter items on spreadsheets and send those to the store for import.
Price hang tags and labels can be printed from sheets using an ink printer or they can be printed from rolls using a thermal label printer. The tags and labels can have barcodes which can be scanned at POS for fast checkout. Barcodes can also be scanned in the program to locate an item record.
At POS an item can be entered in one of 5 ways:
- Scan a barcode.
- Enter an unlisted item (not in inventory).
- Enter an Item ID.
- Select an item from a dropdown list.
- Select an item from the Inventory Work Area and use 'Item to Invoice'.
Pictures of items can be taken, stored in the program and recalled at POS (to help avoid tag switching).
Receipts can be printed on plain paper or on rolls of thermal paper using a thermal receipt printer. Stores with 'no-return policies' can save quite a bit by not printing receipts.
Clients who opted to be paid for sold items in store credit can use their store credit at POS to make purchases. If the amount of credit exceeds the amount of the sale, the latter is deducted from the store-credit balance and the balance remains. If the opposite is true, the store collects the difference.
Payment options at POS are store credit, credit/debit card, cash, check, gift certificate and PayPal.
Bolster Profits with Software
Use the software to build good will and repeat traffic by granting a bonus for store-credit settlement. There are several advantages:
- Added value, fostering good will, reputation and referrals
- Funds remain 'in the store' and encourage sellers to become buyers, increasing sales.
- Fewer payments by check saves time and costs.
Recover Credit-Card Costs
You've done a lot to make it possible for the people in your community to turn their unwanted belongings into cash: research, licenses, lease, utilities, help, software, hardware, equipment, supplies, labels, racks, shelves, insurance...
Enough already. Should you also be expected to pay all of the credit-card cost? After all, everyone involved benefits from the efforts you've made to make credit-card purchases possible: application, fees, commitment, administration. It's may not be too much to expect everyone (sellers, buyers) to pitch in infinitesimal amounts to help cover this cost.
How? Set a small % in the resale software to be deducted from credit-card sales only. (The deduction won't apply to other forms of purchases like cash and check.) Set another small percentage (where allowed by law) to be added to sales purchased by credit card. If consignors chip in 1.5% and sellers add 1.5% that's 3% per month every month in literal additional income to you. Yes, you'll have the challenge of getting everyone on board and for those who would rather walk away than participate, exclude them individually within the program.
There is a 3rd option included in the optional bundle: Set a % to be deducted from all sales prior to applying consignor splits. ('Buyer Fee').
These three options are available separately in the program for $19.95/mo and that too can be passed on to sellers and buyers.