Taking Jewelry Businesses to the Next Level
When a business owner gets to the point where their current business processes are getting increasingly complex and harder to track, it’s usually time for a change. For some companies, this change means that Excel spreadsheets are saved and put aside, and the data is imported to a system that can automate most of the processes that have been done manually in the past. Other companies seek to replace their current legacy system due to its lack of functionalities, lack of support, or for other reasons.
One of the first questions that comes up is: what kind of automation software can move my company to the next level? Many other questions follow. Should I choose a cloud-based, or an installed solution? Cloud options are not suitable for every organization. Generic software or jewelry specific software? You will find my answer at the end of this article.
In this article, I would like to summarize the software solutions that are aimed to help different segments of this industry.
Automated vs. manual tracking: Choose the right software and grow your jewelry business.
POS Software for Jewelry Stores (Retailers)
A reliable, jewelry specific Point of Sale system can be essential for jewelry retailers or diamond traders who wish to track inventory levels & movements, sales, marketing efforts and more importantly, to run reports on all the above. There are many options available on the market today, from cloud-based to locally installed solutions.
Key features that a top jewelry POS should have:
- User friendly interface – we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of an easy to use interface. Assuming that most of the employees who are using your POS are not tech people, a user-friendly interface is a must. It reduces the employee training time, and processing sales quickly and easily improves customer satisfaction. Not only the processing of sales orders, but any action made in the POS should be just a few clicks away. Otherwise, it leads to money loss in the long run.
- Customer management – you should be able to manage your customers’ information, as well as overview their preferences, wish-lists and past orders. Sorting your customers in different categories and pricing levels shouldn’t be an extra feature.
- Inventory handling - managing many different products without any fuss is the minimal expectation, still this aspect used to be a weak point of many POS systems. Why? The attributes of a diamond, a ring, a necklace or a pendant can be quite different and needs to be tracked and priced differently. If the system is unable to flexibly handle these product attributes and different product categories, the POS system can lose a lot from its value.
- Sales – sales modules should handle sales transactions quickly, accept any modern payment methods, and generate inventory movements (for sales and returns). Creating price quotes, layaways, and refund handling are similarly important features. It is a strong plus if your POS includes marketing tools, e.g. gift cards and other options for promotions.
- Reports – inventory reports, sales summary, employee sales – these vital reports can provide you with an overview of how your retail business is doing.
- Printing – you should be able to print product catalogues, product tags and barcodes, as this will help maximize your business’s automation potential.
My deployment recommendation is the cloud-based solution. Having access to the system from anywhere (e.g. tradeshows), from any device (mobile, tablet) and any operating system (Mac or Windows) is simply a priceless feature. Additionally, quick implementation and minimal hardware requirements make the cloud-based POS systems even more competitive.
Jewelry Inventory Software For Wholesalers
Using spreadsheets for order and inventory tracking is still a widespread method for smaller companies. Usually this may be sufficient for a small business, selling or trading a few pieces a day, but once the business starts growing (and going online), keeping up with all the information becomes harder without an automated solution. At this point, many recognize that a well-built, business optimized inventory software could take the company to the next level. Such a software can manage jewelry materials, product inventory, pricing and track customers and suppliers while automating the inventory tracking process. It’s quite common downside of these applications that they focus on the inventory movements but aren’t capable of detailed order management or business workflow management (tracking the process from sales to delivery).
Most common features that a jewelry inventory software can offer:
- Tracking components (bill of materials)
- Automated product pricing
- Automated SKU handling and integrated RFID tracking
- Accurate tracking of inventory movements and reorder points
- Customer and supplier/vendor management
- Automated purchasing management
- Sales tracking
- In-depth reporting
- E-commerce integration (recommended)
Cloud-based or on premise solution? Both can serve its purpose as soon as the features above are available. A growing number of vendors are offering cloud-based solutions. Risk of security breach used to mention as an inhibitory factor, a reason for not implementing a cloud solution but I would say that this is only a false assumption.
Jewelry ERP Software
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions are robust systems that provide jewelry manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers full traceability, can help increase sales, productivity and minimize waste. The advantages of these systems are based on their automation functionalities and the centralized database that drives manufacturing, inventory, consignments, CRM, vendors, purchasing and sales, including the e-commerce aspects of the business. They also provide data security and controlled access levels to employees.
In terms of functionalities, an ERP offers a lot more than a simple POS or an inventory software:
- Complete inventory management – flexible product pricing and tracking of raw materials, diamonds, metals, stones and finished goods
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – grouping customers and tracking all customer interactions
- Production and (barcoded) workbag tracking – full tracking of workflows, and materials on job orders
- Accounting – invoicing, memo tracking and integration with professional accounting platforms (e.g. QuickBooks)
- Supply/purchasing management – automated purchase order generation
- Consignment tracking
- POS – for sales and other retail purposes
- Customer portal – online portal that allows your customers to access your catalogue, create price quotes and place orders online
- Website and e-commerce integration – a nice-to-have feature for any modern jewelry businesses
Although cloud-based ERP applications can fit many jewelry companies, the limitation comes from the vendor’s side: robust cloud solutions are not available today. There are only a few industry specific solutions out on the market, but the complexity of their features lags behind the installed solutions. However, my prediction is that the situation will change within one to two years as vendors are investing more research and development in cloud technology today.
Can a Non-Jewelry Software Meet the Needs of a Jewelry Business?
Although generic ERPs, inventory and POS software have been available for other industries for many decades, the IT sector has only recently begun focusing on the jewelry industry. There are only 4-5 robust jewelry ERPs out on the market today that are affordable for small and medium size companies.
In my opinion, generic systems often can't meet the objectives of a jewelry business, since they were designed “to fit any businesses model", trying to vertically extend a core product for different industries (e.g. Microsoft Dynamics NAV). Does that software vendor understand jewelry industry specifications? Highly doubtful. Instead, they leave companies with a number of issues:
- high software customization costs
- high maintenance fees, critical updates
- functional incompatibilities
- partially automated workflows
Conclusion: Jewelry-specific solutions typically offer deeper functionalities for your specific business and operation needs than a generic software package. If you can find an industry specific software that can help you accomplish all your needs, go for it – you’ll benefit from the shorter implementation and learning curve.
What software are you using right now and what limitations or problems do you face? Feel free to comment below.