HOW TO INTEGRATE YOUR POS SYSTEM WITH A WEBSITE

Ecommerce and POS integration was not something many mom and pop retailers gave much thought about 10 or 15 years back.

Today, it's something all retail store owners need to take into consideration if they want to bring their business to the next level.

If you're strictly a brick and mortar store, make this year the year you begin your online store. With worldwide ecommerce sales expected to reach more than $4 trillion by 2020, there's no reason why some of that money can not be yours. Especially when technology has made it simpler and less expensive than ever to have an online presence and webstore to support your physical one.

Ecommerce and POS integration can look like a lot of technical nonsense that leaves retailers like you scratching your head in confusion, but it's not. Simply put, an integration is a term used to describe the way two different businesses locate a shared communication path and combine their respective technologies to create a more comprehensive solution.

In this instance, we're talking about a point of sale provider joining forces with an ecommerce platform to create a more powerful small business ecosystem of solutions for owners just like you.

Let us take a look at how to integrate an in-store point of sale (POS) system with an internet ecommerce platform and set you up for success.

For starters, do you already have a POS system in place? Have you got an existing site with or without an ecommerce component? Do you have none of the above and need to start from scratch?

If you already have a POS system in place, you'll want to start your search there.

Check with your POS provider and see what ecommerce website or online shopping cart they have an integration with and when the functionality and features will work with your business model.

On the other hand, you may also discover that your POS system is obsolete and can't integrate with any ecommerce provider. If that's true, you'll probably want to ditch the old system and opt for something with more modern capabilities like an iPad point of sale solution.

Last, if you're completely starting from scratch with just a cash register in your shop, no site, or existing ecommerce marketplace, you have the luxury of building something from the ground up. You can literally begin your search anywhere and find solutions ideal for your company.

As soon as you've figured out where you will need to begin and have a great idea of what direction you want to go, we could finally get down to business -- learning how the integration works and all the right questions to ask.

Before you sign on the dotted line and pull your wallet out, there are some questions you would like to ask the solution providers before you commit to purchasing.

Find out just how the integration works. What data, such as inventory quantities is shared between both systems.

Understand the communication process. Meaning, when you update inventory because you received a delivery, what system do you use? Can you make inventory adjustments or add new items in the POS software or from the ecommerce platform?

Is information updated between the two systems in real-time?

What is the total cost of the ecommerce and POS integration? What are you going to pay per month or year for the combined services?

Inquire about credit card processing. If you already accept credit cards in your store, you'll want to know whether you can also use the exact same merchant account with your online store. Ask if there are any extra fees such as a payment gateway fee and what is the increased cost per transaction is since online storefront transactions are keyed-in rather than swiped through a credit card terminal like at a physical store.

Does the POS system integrate with other business management tools such as accounting software packages or email marketing platforms?

Do the providers offer customer service and support 24/7/365?

The answers to these questions should give you a fairly good idea about what you are paying for and which sort of service and functionality you can expect from the solutions.

Now that you have selected your solution provider, somebody will need to prepare the systems. Based on the specific arrangement between you and the other firm, this may be a self-service task or an assisted one with assistance from a customer service representative.

In any event, the first order of business would be to sync your POS inventory with your ecommerce solution. With ShopKeep and BigCommerce for example, there is a simple to follow, self-navigated setup guide in BackOffice for merchants to sync their POS applications data to their ecommerce applications.

You may also need to add or tweak product descriptions so they are not only short abbreviations that only you and your employees can understand. Bear in mind, the entire world wide web can view this, so it ought to make sense.

Once all of your products and descriptions are added to your online store, you can begin to customize it with built-in or themes templates in the ecommerce platform. You'll find colors and styles for any business, and if you do not, chances are you or a hired professional can create a customized design that is truly unique to your organization.

You'll also need to figure out the shipping component. Most ecommerce platforms will have shipping calculations baked directly into the solution. Others integrate with third-party transport platforms -- giving you more choices and the option to stay in your comfort zone.

Now that you know where to start and what questions to ask before buying a solution, it's time to talk about'the why.' Why is this necessary?

It Makes Financial Cents

The most honest answer is, you can not afford not to. Having both a physical presence and an internet presence helps create an omnichannel trade experience. It enables customers and potential customers find your business online via your website or webstore, your social networking marketplace, and even offline at a physical location. Whichever channel or combination of mediums your customer prefers to shop, they will find your brand.

There's no denying that an increasing number of consumers use the internet to research and purchase products. It's no wonder that businesses that adopt omnichannel plans achieve 91 percent high client retention rates compared to companies that don't make any omnichannel investment.

It Makes Allergic Cents

If you're currently working your POS system and your ecommerce system individually, think of all the excess manual effort it takes to keep everything in sync? Someone has to process the sales orders, deduct the correct inventory, and monitor shipping information for each and every customer.

Think about how many labor-hours that's costing you each pay period or within the course of the year. It is probably higher than the cost of upgrading to an integrated solution.

With manual effort also comes the chance of human error and errors. A worker can accidentally transpose a single number wrong like zip code digit which would delay the customer's shipment. Or they inadvertently forgot to deduct the items from the master inventory management listing. Does this muddle your bookkeeping, but it also opens the door for negative consequences on future orders.

If products aren't deducted from your stock, your online store still shows these items in-stock; when in fact you may have sold your last one. If you do not catch the error before another customer places an online order, you're going to have to wait to receive the item from the supplier before you can send it to the client.

Any retail owner will agree that Inventory management is just as hard for online retailers because it's for brick and mortar shops. That's why, if you are going to do both, it is absolutely essential that you find the perfect marriage of ecommerce and POS integration to conduct a more efficient business in today's modern world of retail.

Sources

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