They came, they saw, they purchased … Thousands of customers, without a hitch. In April, Pilotmall.com took part in The SUN ’n FUN International Fly-In, in Lakeland, Florida—one of the largest airshows in the U.S. with over 150,000 attendees. They brought a truckload of pilot paraphernalia to sell in their Aviation Superstore in three locations at the event—at the main tent and in two remote locations. They were used to handling dozens of transactions a day in their normal business, but this would be different. Now they needed to be able to handle more than a thousand transactions a day.
Fortunately, they had a plan.
Pilotmall.com Aviation Superstore sells more than 4,000 products for pilots, including aircraft manuals, supplies, apparel, bags, books, charts, headsets, logbooks, software, oxygen systems, safety accessories, and more. In business for more than 11 years, they sell primarily through online and mail order channels although they have a warehouse store in St. Petersburg, Florida that handles a small amount of walk-in traffic.
This year they decided to have a significant presence at several major airshows in the United States. It would be a whole new business for them. They had been using Stone Edge for years to automate their order processing and fulfillment as well as handle limited point-of-sale transactions at their warehouse store. “This was, however, the first time we used the software’s POS function on such a grand scale,” said Pilotmall.com president Neil Glazer.
In the main tent, PilotMall.com operated a 4,000 square foot retail showroom equipped with five POS systems running Stone Edge Enterprise Edition. More than 4,000 transactions were processed by the POS systems at that location during the six-day event.
“We also used Stone Edge on the four computer systems located in two remote 1,600 square foot tents,” said Glazer. “Over the six days we had an additional 4,500 sales in those locations.”
Each location featured POS systems that included PCs with Stone Edge software, barcode scanners, credit card readers and receipt printers. The goal was to work efficiently, ring sales quickly and keep lines moving. Not an easy task when you’re doing it for the first time and most of your cashiers are temps hired specifically for the show.
“We only have five full-time employees, so we brought in over a dozen temps and trained them to use the software just for the airshow,” Glazer said. “It was really easy to get people up to speed on Stone Edge. We gave them about five minutes of training and they were ready to go.”
From the customer’s point of view, making a purchase should be fairly simple and quick. Customers see what they want. They take it to the cash register and hand over some cash or a credit card. The cashier gives them change and a receipt. And they go away happy with their new purchase. Order management software is designed to make the customer experience a good one. And, because the line keeps moving, efficient point-of-sale transactions mean fewer impatient customers and fewer lost sales.
“The simple, straight forward design of Stone Edge’s Point of Sale interface makes it easy to complete transactions quickly,” said Stone Edge Technologies. “ Making a sale is as easy as scanning an item, keying the amount received and pressing the Cash Sale button to complete the transaction and print the receipt. And by using barcode readers and credit card scanners you can be sure that the pricing and customer information you capture is accurate.”
But like most of today’s retailers, Pilotmall.com needed and expected more. They had lots of issues that needed to be addressed by the POS system. Could they quickly move the customer through the purchasing process, yet accurately capture the customer information needed to manage their business well? Who is the customer? Have they bought before? How will credit cards be processed, if at all? How will information be collected from the customer—will the cashier have to type it in or will it be able to be processed automatically, avoiding costly errors?
When a product is sold, can it be deducted from the inventory count? In real time? What does the product cost? Will the cashier have to type that in or will it be able to be processed automatically, again avoiding costly errors? If the customer says that they rather have the product in blue instead of in red, can the inventory be checked to see if it’s in stock in the warehouse and could be shipped to them? Can they write a note in the system to order blue for the next event? Is the product a gift? Can special gift receipts be printed? And can all of that information be integrated into Pilotmall.com’s main database?
Glazer found that Stone Edge provided solutions to all of those issues.
One issue in particular that needed to be addressed was the ability to integrate the point of sale data captured at the airshow with Pilotmall.com’s overall business data, especially for inventory management. The Road Trips and Tradeshows feature of Stone Edge made it easy for them to check stock out of inventory for sale at the event. At the end of the show they could return whatever stock wasn’t sold back into inventory and transfer the data from all three sales locations back into their main Stone Edge database.
Another great feature of using order management software for selling at events like this is having the data to easily analyze sales and make decisions about what stock to bring to future events.
According to Glazer, “I can’t image a show going smoother. We’ve used other order management software in the past, but none that worked as smoothly as Stone Edge.”
Success at the Lakeland event was followed by the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the largest airshow in the U.S., with more than 500,000 attendees. At the July event, PilotMall.com hosted more than 1,000 square feet of exhibit space that again featured their wide assortment of pilot supplies and gift items.
For this event there was a single store location. Pilotmall.com used Stone Edge’s POS system on four networked desktop computers, with a DSL connection to link to their main database. Again, with the support of barcode scanners, credit card readers, and receipt printers the transactions were seamless and efficient. In seven days, the store processed more than 5,000 sales.
“We’ve been using Stone Edge to run our mail order business for years,” said Glazer. “We originally chose it because, for only $6,000, it offered all the features you need to run a small-to-medium business. Now that we’re taking part in these big events we’re thrilled that we can use its powerful point-of-sale and remote location features to expand our business.”
About PilotMall.com Aviation Superstore®
PilotMall.com Aviation Superstore®, established by Neil Glazer in 1999, is a specialized full-service aviation retailer offering over 4,000 aviation products. For more information about PilotMall.com Aviation Superstore®, visit the website at www.pilotmall.com or phone (727) 209-2586.