Frequently Asked Questions
- What kind of Help Desk Support does Hart Systems provide?
- How will my store and district managers be trained?
- What happens if I unexpectedly need to change my inventory schedule?
- Are Hart's Systems and processes SAS 70 Type II certified?
- How easy is it for the store manager to set up the system?
- How accurate will my associates be?
- Can my sales associates easily use the scanner?
- What happens if my stores don't have enough people?
- How much training is required for my associates?
- What audit and control functions are provided?
- Do I need to change store preparation procedures?
- How will my stores look after a self-inventory?
- Can I track the inventory progress of my stores?
- Will the inventory file be compatible with my system?
- When will the final inventory output file be available?
- Can the master file be changed during the inventory?
- What type of instruction manual is provided?
Should I consider introducing a Cycle Count program?
What kind of Help Desk Support does Hart Systems provide?The Hart Help-Desk is available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and is staffed at all times by seasoned, in-house Customer Support Representatives (we would never outsource this function!) assisted by the HEAT Knowledge Tree Help Desk Software, the most sophisticated software of its type. Every call is answered in person by someone who has the knowledge and the tools to provide an efficient and accurate answer to your questions whether technical or procedural. Additonally, we provide multi-lingual support including French-Canadian and Spanish.
How will my store and district managers be trained?There are a number of options available based upon your specific type of organization and preferences; we assist you every step of the way. Big box retailers may prefer to use the "train the trainer" approach while retailers with smaller stores may want us to train each and every store individually. We provide an easy-to-follow customized procedures manual, a concise training DVD and personalized over-the-phone training.
The equipment and documentation are delivered sufficiently in advance of the day of inventory to allow associates time to familiarize themselves with setting up and using the scanners and to work through a set of practice scanning exercises. With Hart you get a fully personalized service.
What happens if I unexpectedly need to change my inventory schedule?Things happen and schedules occassionally must be changed! We understand this is a concern particularly if you are currently being supported by a third party counting service. Hart's model provides schedule flexibility - should something occur causing you to change a store's inventory schedule the store simply retains the Hart inventory kit and equipment until the inventory can be rescheduled! Call our Help Desk and they will address the rescheduling process.
Are Hart's systems and processes SAS 70 Type II certified?
Hart Systems' applications and processes are evaluated and reviewed annually by an accredited CPA firm — receiving SAS 70 Type II certification every year.
Nearly all of Hart's retail clients are public companies and use one of the Big 4 public accounting firms - Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, or Price Waterhouse Coopers. Each firm has reviewed and approved Hart's self-managed inventory solutions.
How easy is it for the store manager to set up the system?Our systems are designed and packaged to be set up in as little as one minute. A picture and simple instructions are attached to the shipping cartons for ready reference, the power cords and cables are labeled and color-coded.
The set up is simple: 1) remove the one-piece Scanner Cradle from the carton, 2) connect the power cord to an outlet and 3) insert the telephone line into a jack. You're done!
Ethernet (internet) data communications is an increasingly popular option that is available and is just as easy to set up.
How accurate will my associates be?It is well established that a retailer's own employees are more accurate than any other group of people taking inventory. Your employees not only know your merchandise, the placement of the tickets, and the proper bar codes to scan, they are also the only group of people that can identify exceptions such as mismarked merchandise and markdowns not taken. Many retailers use their associates to scan sales, markdowns, transfers, receipts, etc.; scanning inventory will be just as accurate if not more so because there are typically no customers or other distractions present during inventory.
The Hart inventory system provides for remote monitoring of employee productivity while randomly and/or intelligently enforced re-counts keep everyone accurate and on their toes. Hart Systems' proprietary inventory applications are feature-rich with audit and error-avoidance routines that ensure the highest possible degree of accuracy and create audit trails that satisfy the most stringent audit.
Can my sales associates easily use the scanner?Yes. Over 2,000,000 store employees in tens of thousands of retail stores have used our scanners to take inventory. Sales associates, clerks, shipping & receiving staff have all successfully used our scanners.
We have designed the system to be totally user-friendly, tailored for once-a-year users who have never scanned before, and requiring minimal training. Thousands of Help-Desk calls and client requests have driven the development of our proprietary physical inventory software resulting in an application set that embodies the best physical inventory practices of the retail industry.
What happens if my stores don't have enough people?If there is insufficient staff, one easy step is to expand the hours to complete the inventory. For example, if your third-party inventory counting service used 8 people over 3 hours for a total of 24 person hours, you can schedule an inventory for 6 hours which would need only 4 people.
Back stock, top stock and display stock can be counted during the day while the store is open, before the sales floor scanning is started, thereby leveraging equipment usage.
Another approach is to "split" the inventory; for an 8-hour inventory duration this could mean 4 hours after the store closes and completion on the following morning.
Also, if there are stores within close proximity to one another that are scheduled to take inventory on different days, staff from neighboring "buddy" stores can help each other.
How much training is required for my associates?Associates that are scanning for the first time require approximately 10 to 15 minutes of training. The entire inventory staff is trained at the same time and Hart provides an easy step-by-step training guide that can be read aloud by the store manager to the associates. For subsequent inventories there is virtually no training required.
What audit and control functions are provided?These are customized to address the concerns of each retailer. There are generally recognized standards for the control and audit of a physical inventory that we recommend plus additional options are discussed with each client. The most advanced controls in the industry are available based on best practices from hundreds of retailers and over 40 years of physical inventory experience.
Error avoidance routines include thresholds for quantities and values, prompts for re-entry if two consecutive keystrokes are the same (e.g. 22 or 99). Advanced audit routines include post count balancing, blind second scan and complete audit transcripts. Tools to ensure that every fixture has been inventoried, and all of the merchandise on each fixture has been accounted for include fixture summaries and missing fixture detail analysis. Other techniques that may be applicable include selective manual recounts, selective rescanning, high-volume/high-unit analysis, on-hand variance analysis, exception reporting and analysis of UPC/SKU characteristics. Reports designed in conjunction with retail inventory and loss prevention specialists are 100% customized; if you can articulate it, we can program it.
Do I need to change store preparation procedures?Normally, there is no need to change your store preparation procedures. However, it has been our experience that stores are better organized for a self-inventory than for an inventory counted by an outside service.
How will my stores look after a self-inventory?The majority of our clients feel that, because of the care and concern for the merchandise shown by the store associates during the inventory process, the stores are ready for business immediately after a self-inventory. It is not uncommon for a retailer to assign personnel, and spend payroll dollars to "recover" and straighten up a store after an inventory counted by an outside service. This is not necessary for a self-scanned inventory... there is virtually zero recovery payroll needed.
Can I track the inventory progress of my stores?Yes, we provide our clients a password-protected Internet web site to track the inventory progress in their stores, in real-time!
The reports provide drill-down from the entire chain to a region, a district and an individual store. We provide a variety of information such as the date/time each store started their inventory, the number of units that have been counted so far, the percentage complete, the scan rate (productivity) of each store, accuracy measures; in short, everything needed to remotely monitor inventory progress and integrity. No other inventory system provides the level of reporting ("complete inventory transparency") to the home office for both the process and the actual merchandise data.
Will the inventory file be compatible with my system?Every one of our clients requires the inventory data to be specifically formatted for their computer system; we will create the file in any format required. As of this date, we have been able to conform to all of the major POS and back-end system requirements from all retailers. We customize the file to your specifications; often replicating your current format, you do not have to make any changes to conform to our system.
When will the final inventory output file be available?For each store, distribution center or warehouse, the final data file is available immediately after the inventory is completed. If the inventory results are transmitted for consolidating from the stores and warehouses to our host system, then there are a number of options that are provided: each store file transmitted individually, all completed files transmitted every 30 minutes, all files when last store is completed etc. Some clients that use our Notebook Computer System prefer to have a disk created in the store or warehouse at the completion of the inventory; in this case the disk is available immediately upon completion of the inventory.
Can the master file be changed during the inventory?Yes, the master file (PLU, UPC, SKU, etc.) can be changed at any time during the inventory. Updating the master file is usually transparent to the end user and takes from 1 to 5 minutes to download the file into each scanner.
What type of instruction manual is provided?Step-by-step custom inventory manuals are supplied for the store manager or inventory supervisors to manage the inventory. Where appropriate, there are pictures and diagrams as well as explanations. All of our instruction manuals are customized and specific for each client and they can be viewed, printed or downloaded via the web. Inventory manuals (and scanner screen prompts) are available in English, Spanish and French-Canadian. A one-page instruction sheet is also included for the scanning associates.
Should I consider introducing a Cycle Count program?Cycle Counting solutions - in conjunction with your full store inventory schedule - allow you to target high-shrink categories and markets and provide greater inventory integrity for replenishment. Improved in-stock positions drive greater sales and Cycle Counting can deliver timely actionable information necessary for better merchandising decisions.