The Woodard Mercantile: How a new POS system improved a small business

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By Charlotte A. F. Farley

Since 1991, Gerald and Leslye Woodard have owned and operated the Woodard Mercantile, a small business in Maize, Kansas. What started in a grain elevator has transformed into a store that goes beyond your typical feed store:  the mercantile carries lawn and garden products, pet products, Traeger grills, and “pretty much everything from A to Z except for clothing and groceries,” says Leslye Woodard.

Until recently, the Woodards were using an outdated program—they had been using this same program for the past seventeen years. The system was able “to take money and make change,” but that was about it. “It didn’t provide us with all of the reports we needed,” says Leslye.  The Woodards decided they needed a more reliable computer system that could give them better reporting and keeping track of categories, products, and past orders. After hearing about POS Prophet Systems at a trade show, they decided to upgrade their system and went with POS Prophet.

“As a small business owner who has to compete against big box stores, we have to be efficient. We have to keep our prices competitive and find the best way to do it without breaking the bank,” explains Leslye. What appealed to them about the POS Prophet Systems was that there wasn’t any large, upfront cost of buying the software. “And for a small business that’s a huge thing,” Leslye added.  With their new POS system, the Woodards only had to purchase new hardware and didn’t have to pay any upfront costs for software. “We just pay monthly,” she adds.

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The Woodards have definitely seen improved services with this technology. “The computer automatically figures your margins and mark-up, so it’s very easy for our employees to be able to look at that and see if something needs to go up or if this is too high.  It takes away the guesswork. It’s easy to see if something is wrong, and very easy to manage the reports at the end of the day…if we need to be making more on this or we’re out of line on this.”

The new POS system helps the mercantile run better, indeed. Woodard explained that it creates an overall sense of efficiency in that their employees time is better used, especially when it comes to “trying to keep inventory straight, what to order for the next six months. ”She and her husband feel  the new system adds a greater sense of accuracy.

Another added benefit of the new technology: a touch screen and a tax button screen.  Unlike most retailers,  Woodard Mercantile doesn’t have UPC numbers at the counter for every item sold.  Example; bags of feed, and other items are stored in the warehouse. “You don’t bring a bag of feed up to the counter; you pick it out, go through the drive-thru, and load it up,” says Leslye. “The touch screen and tax button make it really easy” to finish the sale.

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The Woodards are more than pleased with their choice. “It’s worked wonderfully so far.” While they haven’t experienced any major problems with the new technology, they don’t feel bad about calling in for support.  Because they pay monthly, there aren’t any hourly costs associated with services or repairs.  “Any problem we’ve had gets fixed very quickly. The company has been very responsive whenever we needed assistance, and because we pay monthly we don’t feel like we’re getting charged for help.”

Has the new POS systems provided a return on investment? “Absolutely,” says Woodard. “And with credit card laws constantly changing, they help us stay PCI compliant.”

In a marketplace dominated by big boxes and chain stores, it’s hard to have an edge.  With an improved, upgraded POS system, the Woodards feel like they are back in the game.  As Leslye said, “it keeps us in line with them. It keeps us competitive.”

–Charlotte A.F. Farley


Click to learn more about POS Prophet Systems retail software.

 

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