Taking Stock Emerging P.O.S. and Inventory Management Solutions

April 2024
Taking stock: Emerging P.O.S. and inventory management solutions By Mike Straus

Point-of-sale systems and inventory management technologies offer new benefits to garden centers.

Inventory Management Tips

There’s no shortage of ways to manage your inventory. Here are a few inventory management techniques that garden centers can use:

  • Perpetual Inventory Management works by updating your inventory count on a continuous basis as inventory increases or decreases. Perpetual inventory management records all product sales and all incoming inventory in real time, eliminating the need for manual inventory counts. With this technique, retailers can forecast demand for products and set up automatic product orders when stock gets low.
  • Safety Stock Inventory is an inventory management technique involving stocking extra product to prevent out-of-stock events. Under the safety stock inventory method, approximately 50% of your average order size is kept on the premises at all times to ensure there is always stock on hand.
  • Just-in-Time Management involves ordering goods from suppliers only as they are needed. This method is ideal for minimizing inventory holding costs, increasing warehouse space and boosting inventory turnover.


Point-of-sale (P.O.S.) and inventory management systems are the backbone of garden retail operations; they’re responsible for conducting sales, tracking inventory and running reports. While P.O.S. systems have a long history of use in retail environments, emerging P.O.S. technologies now support or integrate with inventory management software to make tracking inventory simple, easy and seamless. Integrated P.O.S./inventory management systems offer an array of benefits for garden retailers, giving them flexibility with respect to sales and inventory management.

Lori Pinnell is the store manager at Bylands Garden Centre in West Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Open year-round, Bylands is a family-owned garden center that has been in operation for more than 60 years. The Bylands company also owns a 450-acre nursery that has been in business since the 1950s.

“We carry a lot of items that turn over very quickly, so it’s vital for us to have an inventory management system,” she said. “We don’t use the inventory management system for annuals or seeds, but everything else has an item number and can be tracked.”

Bylands’ P.O.S. system runs on Windward Software System Five, a full-scale, cloud-based inventory control, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM) and accounting platform. System Five integrates with WooCommerce to support online ordering and offers myriad reporting features.

“It’s a full system for managing inventory, processing sales and doing all of our accounting functions,” Pinnell said. “We just added a second location, so we’ve been able to expand our P.O.S. system. It can expand with us and tap into the same inventory, so we can perform inventory transfers on the same system.”

Consistency Counts

Pinnell noted that it’s important to have staff dedicated to inputting inventory into the P.O.S. system. Otherwise, she said, stores run the risk of duplicate items and other errors. When too many fingers are in the system, it means sales don’t process properly and inventory counts become overstated or understated.

“You need to plan your items that are going into the system and stick to that plan; otherwise you lose the ability to look up products,” she said. “We do the first four letters of the product name, so if it’s a weeping tile, we input it as ‘WEEP.’ If everyone is creating new items all the time, you can overload the inventory system and have the same item in multiple places.”

Pinnell said proper receiving processes are critical to ensuring successful inventory management. Bylands recently transitioned to a new inventory receiving process; instead of simply placing inventory on the sale floor as soon as it arrives, the retailer now performs constant cycle counts to have confidence in their inventory numbers. While Bylands’ P.O.S. system supports order notification functions, Bylands still prefers to have managers manually check the system for when reorders are due.

“We use a combination of inventory management systems,” she said. “One thing we don’t do here is use the purchase order system. There are many suppliers who now offer pre-pricing, so you can get things through your receiving process much faster and still manage your inventory. The suppliers are trying to ensure their spreadsheets can be uploaded quickly, which makes things better for everyone.”

Integrated Systems

Pinnell explained that it’s vital to have an integrated P.O.S. and inventory management system. Bylands’ P.O.S. system integrates with their inventory management system, eliminating the need to keep on top of inventory by hand.

“I’ve witnessed a very good example of what happens when your P.O.S. and inventory management system aren’t integrated,” Pinnell said. “A company was shocked at how understated their inventory was because they weren’t keeping up with their inventory despite running sales through the system.”

Pinnell said it can be challenging for some people to adopt an integrated P.O.S. and inventory management system because it’s tempting to want to simply get product on the floor as soon as it arrives. Patience, she said, is a virtue in this instance. With an integrated system, inventory is deducted as soon as it sells, and commitment to proper receiving processes ensures accurate counts.

Beyond having an integrated system, though, she explains that choosing a P.O.S. vendor is about more than just features.

“The relationship with your P.O.S. provider is a critical piece,” she said. “You need to be able to put in tickets for service. You need to have a company that can help you if your system crashes.”

Inventory Management on the Fly

Ajay Singh is the marketing manager for ACCEO Smart Vendor, a point-of-sale system for small- and mid-sized retailers designed by ACCEO Solutions. ACCEO Solutions provides garden retailers and hardware centers across the U.S. and Canada with accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and P.O.S. solutions.

Singh noted that when it comes to garden centers, one of the most important features for an inventory management and P.O.S. system is the ability to remotely report and look up inventory while in the field.

“When garden center owners are in the field, they can synchronize their inventory using remote access to the system based on their main computer and across the store through their local intranet,” he said.

He said ACCEO Smart Vendor differs from other P.O.S. solutions in that it’s an entirely on-premise system, which is a strong benefit for stores where internet service is poor.

He said the P.O.S. system is designed specifically for the northern climate, ensuring smooth operations in challenging environmental conditions. “We also have automated delivery systems, which helps with seamless operations. Plus, we’re scalable, and we can tailor our system to garden centers’ requirements.”

For an enhanced reading experience, view this article in our digital edition.

Mike Straus

Mike Straus is a freelance writer based in Kelowna, Canada. His work has appeared in publications like Massage Therapy Canada, Nutritional Outlook, Pharmaceutical Executive and others.