Summer is just around the corner, and for many, that means warm weather, vacations and fun activities under the sun. But for firearm dealers, it often signals cold sales, fewer customers and the dreaded start of the industry’s summer slump.
While summer officially starts in June, your retail FFL may already be feeling the heat of the slowest time of year for gun sales. Between 2010–2019, May, June and July rank the lowest in average NICS background checks and among the lowest in NSSF-adjusted NICS figures of all months. And sales don’t get any better in August or September, which extend the slump to round out the top-five lowest such months.
However, there may be a silver lining to a slow summer. With fewer customers shopping in store and more time to focus on inventory and operations, summer is the perfect opportunity to upgrade your retail FFL software. But first, you should evaluate your existing software and determine the current and future needs of your firearms business.
Evaluate Existing Software
Before changing or upgrading existing software, your FFL should first evaluate if it needs to. After all, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. But if everyday activities are impeded by existing tools, it’s likely time to make a switch.
Ask yourself, is your software working for you, your employees and your business? Does it have the features you want or need? Is your software capable of scaling with your business? Is customer support readily available and helpful? Are you paying multiple vendors or simply paying too much? These questions are a good place to start before seeking other solutions.
Determine Wants & Needs
If you do choose to move on from your existing software, the next step is determining what you want and need from your next tools. Most firearm retailers have traded paper and Excel for more robust and modern offerings in the form of electronic acquisition and disposition (A&D) Bound Books and point-of-sale (POS) systems, though ecommerce platforms and digital storage are also gaining in popularity. If you’re making the switch from paper, you may not know exactly what you want or need in FFL software, but such desires typically boil down to functionality and versatility.
Do you only sell at your brick-and-mortar location, or do you also exhibit at gun shows? Do you currently or intend to operate more than one location? Have you thought about selling online to reach more local or national customers? Do you have room to physically store Form 4473s for the lifetime of your business? What other software or tools do you intend to keep using?
With so many options on the market, deciding which tools to use can prove difficult. But by determining the features and functionality you want and need from your next retail FFL software you can more easily narrow down your search to the solution that works best for you.
Why Summer Is Best
As mentioned at the top, firearm dealers often see a decline in customers and sales during the summer months as warm weather and vacations keep people, and their money, away. But this slower part of the season is a great opportunity to improve your business before gun owners return for the busy fall and holiday season. And one of the simplest and most impactful ways to develop and grow your FFL is with software.
As the saying goes, time is money, but switching or upgrading software systems doesn’t have to be a long or expensive process. Depending on your current information technology (IT) infrastructure – or lack thereof – and the available resources from the software provider, new systems can be setup and up and running in days. Some can even be implemented without the need for your business to close, allowing your FFL to maintain regular operations without disturbing customers.
While pricing will vary from provider to provider and is generally dependent on features, functionality and hardware needed, you may find modern FFL software can save your business time and money by automating product ordering, managing firearm inventory, running sales reports, tracking customer history and more. Many software offerings also include compliance features that could ultimately save your license from costly ATF violations and revocation.
By switching software in the summer, your business can implement new tools without fearing lost sales and train employees up on how to use it effectively before the end-of-year rush.
Orchid Retail FFL Solutions
At Orchid, we strive to help firearm retailers profitably sell firearms with great efficiency and the utmost compliance. As the only one-stop shop for retail FFL software, we offer leading cloud-based solutions at affordable pricing and without the hassle of juggling multiple vendors. Below you’ll find our retail suite of solutions specifically designed for firearm dealers.
- Orchid eBound™ – The simplest, most compliant, and most trusted FFL compliance software for electronic A&D Bound Books and ATF Form 4473.
- Orchid POS™ – The firearm industry’s most complete point-of-sale system for single and multi-store retail and range FFLs.
- Orchid eCommerce™ – The most inexpensive full-service, custom website and webstore that natively integrates with Orchid POS and AmmoReady.
- Orchid eStorage™ – Reduce paper printing costs and ATF risk with Orchid’s digital storage for important FFL documents.
- Orchid Pay™ – Reliably accept credit card payments for firearm transactions in-store or online without anti-firearm bias.
We encourage you to contact us to learn more, schedule a demo and learn why Orchid is used and trusted by the biggest names in the industry. Why not make the switch to Orchid this summer?