Rather than resisting the tidal wave of technology, software providers have developed programs specifically for brick-and-mortar firearms dealers — capable of streamlining business operations, connecting stores with mobile users and enhancing e-commerce opportunities. In kind, dealers both large and small are seeking out trusted service and software solutions for point-of-sale (POS) systems, website integration and more.
Last year, Big Rock Sports publicized the results of a nationwide survey of firearms dealers that revealed the majority of dealers have adopted and embraced technology in their stores. According to the survey, more retailers (71%) had a store website than a POS system (67%), while 4 percent of respondents had a customer management system (CRM). In analyzing the data, Big Rock officials predicted the CRM number would increase as the industry continues to adopt technology. Additionally, 70 percent of participants said retail technology is “critical” to the success of their store. Likely, this number too will only continue to grow.
Celerant Technology Corp. has been providing software for firearms dealers for over 10 years. The success of Celerant’s Stratus Retail has led to the development of Cumulus Retail, an affordable SaaS retail system managing in-store, online and mobile operations. Michele Salerno, director of marketing and assistant VP at Celerant, described some of the major benefits of implementing a POS system.
“POS software can do a lot for merchants, whether they’re doing it manually now or working on a lower-level system. If they have a tent sale, want to bring a system to a gun show or if they’re expanding to multiple locations, they’ll need real-time integration — enabling them to see inventory levels at an exact moment, no matter where they are,” she said.
Retailers have several options today at a range of price points, shared Steve Harris, CEO of Three Circle Software. His company is the developer of Gun StoreMaster, a program that manages a gun store’s regulatory transaction requirements while providing other performance-enhancing and timesaving features.
“The good news for FFL retailers is they have a wide variety of solutions available, from simple, inexpensive software applications to complex and expensive ‘turnkey’ solutions,” Harris noted.
Christina Fisher, SVP at RSR Group Inc., outlined some of the immediate benefits dealers can enjoy with an up-to-date, integrated POS system.
“Having a complete retail platform in one system integrating all business functions will save the retailer time. More efficient processes, reduced errors, inventory control, increased security, reporting and automated ordering to reduce lost sales are some of the primary benefits of these systems,” Fisher noted. “Connected Data Solutions, Cervelle and Celerant are three companies that offer POS systems, each with their own unique features to cater to businesses in the firearms industry.”
Working In Tandem
One current trend in this segment involves vendor integration, where system providers and distributors have teamed up to develop software capable of displaying inventory in real-time on your website.
“System providers have integrated with distributors such as RSR Group to make their systems more efficient and offer immediate access to product and inventory data, which improves service levels through electronic communication and more efficient processes,” Fisher said.
RSR works with several web solution and e-commerce integrators: AmmoReady, Celerant, Connected Data Solutions, Gearfire, Hublogix, Outdoor Business Network, SITEBIZ and Vortx.
“Partnering with various e-commerce integrators and POS providers has been a company initiative to help our dealers grow their businesses and work more efficiently,” said Christa Bass, RSR Group CIO.
Salerno shared Celerant has developed partnerships with NSSF, NRA, Sports Inc., Nation’s Best Sports and several distributors on various projects.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on vendor integration. We’ve partnered with several distributors (including Sports South, Big Rock Sports, RSR and AcuSport). Our goal is to save retailers time — to sell more and do less. Whether it’s a catalog import, where we give our merchants the tools to import Sport South’s catalog, select the items they want to sell and then import product descriptions and 360-degree images,” she said.
With proper vendor integration, your customers have access to an entire warehouse “a click away.”
“This broadens your base of customers past the local area,” Salerno opined. “Today, no one wants to wait. With vendor integration, you can sell any product your distributor carries without having to fulfill it and you’re not spending money on ordering product or keeping it in inventory. It’s huge for customer service.”
A major advantage of working with a software provider is it will enable your store’s footprint to reach beyond your brick-and-mortar location…