About Page 158 Books
Dave and Sue Lucey practically fell into Page 158 Books, a bookstore in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The couple first visited the shop as customers. It wasn’t long after Sue mentioned to Dave that she’d love to own a book store. Fast forward a few months later and the couple outright bought Page 158 Books. Today Sue manages the front of the store and the staff, while Dave manages operations, IT, and inventory.
Their shop sells everything from kids’ books to bestsellers and has a wide customer base. They launched in July 2015 and have since expanded to 13 employees, with consistent year-over-year revenue growth. The bookstore is 1,600 square feet and sees about 1,000 people come through its doors in an average week.
Before buying the bookstore, Sue spent a lot time with the previous owner so she could learn the sales system he used. But she quickly realized they would need a smoother solution. The bookstore-specific software was not intuitive, took too long to remove sold items from inventory, and required an onsite server to install.
Everybody complains in the bookstore world about those software packages, how difficult they are, and the learning curve that’s associated with them. And it drives everybody crazy. ”Dave Lucey → Co-owner, Page 158 Books
As they explored options, they knew they needed a system that would:
- Be easy for staff to look up items and check out customers quickly
- Be flexible for new growth opportunities outside of their brick and mortar’s register
- Allow for seamless, cloud-based inventory management
Dave and Sue were looking for an intuitive point-of-sale-system that would give them the flexibility to grow their business while simplifying their day-to-day operations on a single platform.
In the bookselling industry most POS options are server based, with terminal fees for each computer to be logged on. They required staff to memorize keyed prompts and commands, which could take hours of practice for them to become proficient. As Sue describes her passionate booksellers, “We’re really good at writing and hugging each other, and we’re all empathetic.” In other words, Page 158 Books’ employees were more skilled at customer service and relating to readers than at spending hours navigating clunky software. They needed an intuitive and flexible solution that suited their bookstore’s unique needs.
Square for Retail solved the inventory management pain points for Page 158 Books while providing a great customer checkout experience. The Luceys started with the original Square POS on iPad then graduated to Square for Retail when it launched in 2017. Later they added Square Register to their hardware due to the customer-facing display.
Requirement #1: Ring up sales easily
Square Retail POS software made it easy for staff to understand checkout and product lookup. No need to memorize commands anymore. Cart building is as easy as scanning the barcode. For items without barcodes, they use the customizable item grid on the POS or print barcode tags in Square Dashboard. In addition to the Square Register at checkout, staff can take payments on the floor or at events with iPads and Square Reader for magstripe.
Dave and Sue are members of a Facebook group called Bookstores Using Square, in which they share tips on how to use Square for Retail to its fullest potential.
Square is the easiest thing for new team members to learn. They get it the first day. We can do returns easily there. We can find a product that is in-house. It just makes my life so easy, because I’m not an IT person. ”Sue Lucey → Co-owner, Page 158 Books
Requirement #2: Manage inventory seamlessly
Dave can import the books’ ISBNs and prices into Square for Retail, so it is seamless to reorder books or add them at checkout. He uses the import purchase order feature to enter large orders, and he is able to receive 300 line items at once. The inventory cycle count tool helps keep quantities accurate, and low stock alert emails help him stay ahead of sellouts. He can also share cost-of-goods-sold reports with their accountant each month. Plus, it can be done from anywhere, with Dave often creating purchase orders at home and staff receiving and scanning inventory at the store.
“Every day I’m in that purchase order module, adding a purchase order, adding all the books to it. I work from home in the store. When the product comes in, they’re actually receiving it using the POs that I created. We couldn’t do that with the bookstore-specific system. I would have a terminal here to do that, which again would be an additional cost,” Dave explained.
Requirement #3: Be flexible for growth
Square for Retail has given Page 158 Books the power to grow. Since it does not charge fees per terminal or device, the Luceys can add payment terminals for pop-ups, line busting, and expansion opportunities. Sue often sells at off-site events, taking stock to book fairs and schools, where sales are still tracked to inventory and payments are seamless from her iPhone. Even without Wi-Fi she can take sales in Offline Mode or use cellular. While Square Invoices was especially handy during the pandemic, the Luceys continue to use Square Invoices to provide a personalized shopping experience. They’ve added Square Loyalty, which customers are excited to join and use to track their points. They’ve even purchased the space next door and have plans to open a cafe, where they can also use Square to increase revenue and customer interactions.
“We’re literally scaling our business on the fly as needed. None of those [bookstore-specific] systems allow you to do that,” Dave said.
Growth and results
By using Square for Retail to simplify their daily operations and sell everywhere their customers are, Page 158 Books has seen tremendous year-over-year growth.
- Increased sales from $95,000 to $545,000
- Grown to 13 employees
- 8 hours per week managing inventory
“Square for Retail has been such a critical part of our business being successful. It was just another example of the technology that we’re using serving us instead of us having to serve the technology,” Sue elaborated.
Learn more about how Square for Retail can help you manage inventory, save time, and scale your business.