Hardware stores and builders’ merchants: anticipating demand

Builders’ merchants software is a useful tool for tracking sales data and anticipating demand.

16th March 2015

Stock control is one of the most important processes for hardware stores and builders’ merchants to master. At the heart of the problem is the need to maintain a balance between healthy stock levels and a strong, positive cashflow, but the issue is far more complex than that in practice. Merchants must learn to buy when prices are low, pay attention to dead stock and anticipate demand fluctuations for each and every product they sell. The advent of stock control software for builders’ merchants has significantly improved the efficiency of stock management processes. How can you use software to anticipate demand?

Cycle counting and stock take
Ensuring that your recorded stock levels are accurate is essential if you wish to be prepared for changes in demand. Stocktaking is a tedious process – particularly if you don’t use software to help you and have to check every item against a handwritten database. Stock control software integrates with handheld barcode scanners to speed up full inventory checks and regular cycle counts on high value items. Checking stock by eye tends to lead to costly mistakes during periods of high demand.

Automatic orders
At the end of each day, week or month, stock control software automatically produces reports showing stock levels based on stock sold during the time period. The software can alert you to products with low stock levels, and you can even set thresholds for the automatic generation of purchase orders based on critical stock levels of each product. This ensures that orders can be sent out swiftly, even after a long, busy day on the shop floor. Delaying the sending of purchase orders to the following day could lead to a stock shortfall and lost revenue.

Sales trends
Thanks to the sales data provided by stock control and point-of-sale software, you no longer need to rely on hunches and anecdotes from your sales assistants to help you plan future purchase orders. With just a few clicks, you can select a series of sales data for individual products, product subgroups or groups and view how it’s changed over time. You should also consider tracking how the same (or similar) product from different brands performs over time. Your software can’t predict the future, but you can use the graphs and charts it generates to look out for the beginnings of sales trends. Pair this data with information gleaned from customers and clients to identify the cause of the bump in demand and evaluate whether it’s worth increasing your next order quantity. Seasonal factors, weather conditions, politics and the press all play a role.

Financial considerations
Even if you’re almost certain that the spike in demand will turn into a long-term upward trend, your cashflow may be a limiting factor. Builders’ merchant software also comes packaged with all the accounts functions that you’d expect from retail software, so use these to determine the impact a larger purchase order will have on your cashflow.

Of course, successfully anticipating demand spikes isn’t just down to skill, but also luck. You can never be certain about the extent of a demand increase, but retail and point-of-sale software gives you the data you need to make informed decisions about future purchase orders, reducing much of the risk.

Builders’ merchant software has many more functions beyond stock control alone. View details of the many other features of Trader here. 

Tagged under: Builders’ merchants software, software for builders’ merchants, software for hardware stores, hardware store software, stock control software

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