Consignment Store Point of Sale:Case Study
Buffalo Exchange and Celerant Customize POS To Support Buy/Sell Retail
Since 1974, retailer Buffalo Exchange has thrived using a simple, but innovative, business model: buy, sell, and trade high fashion and vintage apparel. All Buffalo Exchange locations across the United States used a manual process of calculators and cash registers to complete transactions. With more than 25,000 unique items in each store that turn over an average of every 30-45 days, co-owner Rebecca Block knew she had to automate before growing further to avoid an accounting nightmare.
It wasn’t the first time she had tried to modernize. The challenge faced by Buffalo Exchange was that an enterprise level POS system capable of handling traditional sales in addition to trades and cash purchases simply did not exist. Further complicating matters was that store buyers do not purchase identified items from distributors; they literally have no idea what is going to walk through the door at any given time, and each different item needs its own unique SKU.
Instead of changing Buffalo Exchange’s successful business model to comply with the limitations of off the shelf platforms, Block decided to hire a software company to build her own custom solution. After months of development, the new system was launched in a handful of pilot locations. SQL server replication data flow problems caused the system to collapse on itself soon after implementation; the software simply wasn’t scalable and could not successfully serve the needs of all of Buffalo Exchange’s locations.
But Block remained determined. “Not automating our stores wasn’t an option, so we pretty much had to start from square one, finding a new vendor who could customize a brand new system. When I met the team from Celerant Technology, I knew this company was up to the task because in addition to software expertise, they also have people that really know retail. Celerant Technology truly understood my vision and quickly became trusted partners.”
Instead of writing new integration from the ground up, Celerant and Block decided the best approach would be to create custom modifications to the successful and stable Celerant Command Retail platform that would enable the specific functionalities needed for Buffalo Exchange’s business.
In addition to merchandise trade and cash buy/sell functionalities, Buffalo Exchange also needed robust reporting capabilities so it could track inventory, customers, and employee buyer metrics. Because the store deals in the dynamic fashion industry, knowing what types of items are selling well is vital; and each unique SKU had to be trackable and reportable. Each individual purchase also had to be connected to a CRM database to keep Buffalo Exchange in compliance with various state regulations, originally written to govern pawn shops, this requires detailed record keeping for all retail buy transaction.
Working directly with Buffalo Exchange and Block’s IT team, Celerant developed the necessary modifications to support the company’s needs. The first enterprise class POS system capable of reliably accounting buy, sell, and trade transactions rolled out successfully to all of Buffalo Exchange’s 44 retail locations in 2012.
“The amount of access we now have to data is amazingly helpful. We can instantly see results from any store, any time,” said Block. “I think the biggest testament to the effectiveness of the platform Celerant created for us is that since installing it, we have added 5 locations and haven’t had to add any additional staff to our accounting department.”
Ancillary operations like payroll and performance evaluation have also been enhanced with the new technology. The system automatically boots up before employees arrive so they can clock in immediately upon arrival instead of having to wait to do so, during which time they are required by law to be paid. This function alone has saved Buffalo Exchange $300,000 in two years. Each purchase is also now linked to individual employees, so managers can easily determine which purchasers are making the best decisions on which items to buy.
Most importantly, Buffalo Exchange now enjoys a fully scalable POS system that supports every function that makes the retailer unique.
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