Running an inventory-based business can be a frustrating numbers game, especially for a retail garden center with multiple locations that must contend with the seasonality of its products.

For Pike Nurseries, which operates 18 locations throughout Georgia and North Carolina, the issue of inventory and sales tracking is made more manageable with the help of Epicor Software. Pike Nurseries has been working with Epicor since 2008, and buyer Mark Malaguerra says the system gives him and other Pike buyers and managers the information they need to make critical inventory decisions.

“[With Epicor software], you can look at sell-through, especially on seasonal products. You can look at your year-to-date sell-through as compared to where you were in the same time frame last year,” Malaguerra says. “You can then gauge on your sell-through if you are lagging behind, what strategy you need to take, whether it needs to be a sale or if it needs more advertising or whatever.”

Knowing how certain products and product categories perform at different times of the year is must-have knowledge when planning clearances and new buy-ins, Malaguerra says. Epicor’s software in particular is flexible in the different types of reports it can generate.

“I don’t know how [a garden center], especially a garden center with multiple locations, can keep on top of what’s selling and what the inventory levels are, where the opportunities are, when something needs to be put on sale [without software like Epicor’s],” he says. “It really depends a lot on what exactly you’re looking for in those reports because the ability to design reports is endless.”

These data reporting capabilities are especially helpful for tracking highly seasonal products like Christmas trees and holiday décor, Malaguerra says.

“Those categories are ones I really have to keep track of because there’s nothing worse than a wreath on December 26,” he says. “So, that’s where we really use it, to determine our order quantities when we bring [a product in], when we promote it, and when we clearance it.”

In addition to being able to go into sales records for detailed, specific reports, Pike Nurseries staff also benefit from automatic briefings delivered on a regular basis. Malaguerra says these features of Epicor software help him stay on top of day-to-day operations.

“We also have a lot of reports that are auto-generated that are emailed to the people who need to know; whether it’s just the daily sales or the dashboard reports that have a breakdown of sales by department, how you’re comparing this year to last year, how your margins are, what your initial margins are, what your spoilage is,” he says. “We get those reports weekly. It just really helps.”

To stay competitive in the 21st century, retailers need modern tools. Epicor software gives Pike Nurseries the digital tools necessary to be in the know about their inventory.

“I’ve been in the business many years, and the old system of just walking around and seeing what sold — you miss things. Or, you may not have realized you sold something, but the only way you sold it was you marked it down and sold it at cost,” Malaguerra says. “I know there are a lot of systems out there, and we’ve been happy with the Epicor system. It’s really helped us with our profitability. We make the decisions, but the system gives us the raw data that allow you to make those critical decisions.”