Hire management software” refers to digital systems that monitor – and provide meaningful information about – the stock and bookings made within a rental company. Whilst undertaking a project for a client firm in the tailoring business, we noted the conspicuous absence of tailoring-focused hire management software from the online market. Recognising an opportunity, we endeavoured to build a proprietary hire system from the ground up to meet the specific needs of tailors and costume shops.

We needed a system that enables the user to:

  • Make bookings, recording all relevant customer, date, clothing and payment details.
  • View, alter, and record payments for upcoming bookings.
  • Monitor the movement of clothing items in and out of the store, with the means to view each item’s status and to keep track of stock more broadly. (For ease of use we opted to integrate barcode scanning technology.)
  • Edit existing product information, add new products and items to the inventory, and remove obsolete and damaged items from the inventory.
  • Use the program remotely and across a variety of hardware platforms. (We achieved this by building the system in-browser.)

To indicate the scale of the system we built, below is an abbreviated account of the facilities available when the user initially makes a booking:

We give the user a choice between Single Hire (for an individual customer) and Group Hire (for a party). Relevant customer and booking details can then be recorded before a basket of clothing items is selected. We have included a facility to add notes relating to the party, the booking, and specific size requirements for items where applicable. When outfitting a group, one member’s ensemble can be copied to other members of the party – a feature that saves time when serving a wedding party, for example.

Package discounts can be automated to suit the tailor’s pricing structure, and the user can view the subtotals, discounts, and balances in the checkout section once all clothing items have been selected. Further discounts can be applied and gift cards can be accepted. The user can alter the basket at the checkout stage and the system will automatically update, applying or removing package discounts as appropriate. Any payment made at the time of booking is recorded, including the means of payment (cash, card, etc.). When the booking is accepted, the customer is sent an automatic confirmation email with item and price details and the reservation is logged in the system’s Upcoming Bookings section, where the customer, booking, and payment information can be altered if necessary before customers collect their outfits.

The above outline of the booking process reflects a functional sophistication and dynamism that is mirrored across the system’s feature set. To ensure robustness despite the software’s complexity, we conducted rounds of systematic functional testing to eliminate bugs, check performance in variety of hire situations – common and exceptional – and improve the software’s speed, stability, and user-friendliness. Intuitive, seamless navigation is crucial to the quality of user experience, so we made sure to test user movement through the site, which led us – among other things – to add a navigation bar for fast access to site features.

The end result is a user-friendly, polished hire management platform built to handle the myriad contingencies encountered in the tailoring/costume hire business.

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