A century-old hardware business revolutionizes their in-store POS checkout and back-office technology all running on a single system in the cloud
Cole’s is a hardware store that has been around since 1883. Over the years, they have grown from a small local shop to owning their own distribution center, with a total of over 20,000 SKUs ranging from tools, home repair, paint, electrical, outdoor living and more.
Cole’s evaluated a variety of POS solutions to run alongside their new ERP solution of choice in NetSuite, which was set to replace their slow and outdated system. They tried NetSuite’s POS, SuiteCommerce InStore (SCIS), but ultimately determined SuitePOS was the only solution that could keep up with their high-paced checkout demands.
SuitePOS for NetSuite had the wide set of features Cole’s required and the native NetSuite integration that would allow them to manage everything in one place. Their choice of SuiteRetail and SuitePOS for NetSuite ultimately created a streamlined in-store experience that transformed everything from inventory management and finance, to omni-channel visibility, to the checkout process itself.
“It is really easy to look up previous transactions, even at different locations. With 12 stores, we have a lot of customers that cross shop and have the expectation that we know what they bought, and where”, says Taylor Cole, a fifth-generation family employee. “We now have the ability to return products for a customer that were bought at one location, but returned at another. Another feature that we like is the ability to have a picture of the actual item available when we scan it. It is another way for our cashiers to verify they have selected the right item for the customer.”
“We are a low-touch, high transaction business and need to get customers out the door quickly and that’s what SuiteRetail has done for us,” says Jason Budman, who has been with Cole’s for over 18 years. “It’s made us less transactional, and more personable. Our personal experience differentiates us from the big box stores.”
Cole’s has seen it all: from back when computers didn’t exist, to pen and paper and to trying out a few different POS options. SuitePOS stood out for a variety of reasons, but speed and ease-of-use took top priority in selecting a new system.
The SuitePOS app is fast and simple, and uses PayPal Here payments to power the smoothest and quickest checkout possible with Chip and support for Apple Pay, Android Pay and other modern, contactless standards.
“We can process an average transaction in less than 3 seconds. By the time you tell the customer to put the card in, it’s time to take the card out!” added Jason.
It’s almost impossible to build a successful business that spans over almost a century and a half without staying focused on the customer experience. When it comes to utilizing SuitePOS, the technology has evolved the buyer journey to be much more tailored and unique and has also impacted their brand perception in very positive and “priceless” ways.
“The new iPads and everything wireless, being able to take chips and Apple Pay…really showed we are looking to change and stay up-to-date on what the market has, and evolve to customer needs,” says Taylor. “I’ve personally heard customers say how much we have stepped our game up.”
Another consideration that transformed their business was the practicality of being able to operate if an emergency or storm occurs and the power goes out.
“Before, we were on one server and we needed the Internet no matter what, so if the power went down we were kind of in the water. The ability to run our POS with no internet or even power, and also stay mobile when it’s called for, are critical features we enjoy and cannot live without”, says Taylor.
In terms of selecting a system for their store, Cole’s also had to consider the hardware marketplace as a whole, which is also evolving and adapting to today’s customers. Cole’s has a large Millennial DIY base that comes in at the end of their project research journeys as opposed to the beginning. Closing the sale in a smooth, efficient customer-centric way is more crucial now than ever.
“This is not a generation that wants personal interaction until they need it. They want to do their homework first. But they want to be reassured that what they were thinking is correct…that’s where you will see the value from hardware stores, in being a trusted resource,” says Jason. “I believe the experience is more personalized to have a 1-to-1 conversation with the customer.”
As far as keeping up pace and adapting their technology for the next 100 years and beyond?
Jason says, “SuiteRetail has been really good at looking at our business and the things we are going to continue to need moving forward. If you’re looking for a high-value relationship with a vendor who understands the storefronts and beyond, we have a relationship with SuiteRetail that will get us there for sure.”