Chapter 3 Bridge Your Offline and Online Sales With The Right POS System Integration For Your Business
Bridge Your Offline and Online Sales With The Right POS System Integration For Your Business
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We dove deep into why and how you should launch your online business and came to a conclusion: having an online store is critical to the success of a business — now more than ever.
But, on the other hand, the thought of inventory management makes you cringe.
Launching a new arm of your business may have you thinking, “How am I supposed to connect my two channels? How much is this going to cost me? How much added time is this going to take?”
What if I told you there was one easy way to solve each of these questions.
There is, and it’s a point-of-sale system (POS) ecommerce store integration.
Just like any relationship, communication is the key to success. This integration is essential to the connection between your two business channels.
“Integrating point of sale with ecommerce is a must for any retailer that’s doing business online and offline. You want your channels to “talk” to each other, so that sales, inventory, and customer data flow smoothly from one system to the next. This saves you time, reduces double-entry, and minimizes human error.” — Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert, Vend Point of Sale
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
What Does an Ecommerce Point-of-Sale Integration Look Like?
First, let’s set the scene.
What is an ecommerce point-of-sale (POS) system? Put simply, it’s a digital solution that allows you to process orders or transactions across various channels.
In the offline sense, you may be familiar with using POS hardware, like a cash register for example.
How do you take that cash register and connect it to your new online store?
Depending on your current situation, you may need to upgrade to an ecommerce point of sale system. This is a POS that can handle both online and offline orders and transactions.
You’ll still have necessary hardware and software — like your cash register or contactless card reader, but, you’ll experience more enhanced analytics and more organized inventory management.
Plus, your new and improved POS system will handle payment transactions for you. Cha-ching!
6 Benefits of an Ecommerce POS Integration
For customers who follow a brick-and-click model, POS integration is a vital component — for more reasons than one.
Danielle Ewert, Senior Manager of Onboarding & Training at Springboard Retail, shares, “Integrating your POS and ecommerce site means having one holistic view of your customers and business. Inventory, orders, gift cards, images—all of these and more sync, offering your customers a seamless omnichannel shopping experience, and your team a 360-degree view of your sales performance and customer journey.”
Here’s a look at more specifics.
1. Sell in more places at the same time.
Remember, the goal is to be where your customers are. You physically cannot be in multiple places at once, but — good news — your ecommerce POS integration can!
By integrating your two channels into one POS, you’ll gain a holistic view of your customers and business without the stress of adding up numbers manually.
2. You can see the inventory in real time and no more over-selling.
This brings us to a nice segue because with a holistic view, you’ll also unlock real-time access to your inventory.
Any business owner or ecommerce manager knows how crucial it is to streamline your inventory management.
By having a direct line of sight to inventory, you won’t have to worry about over-selling products and cutting your customers’ orders. It’s a win-win for everyone.
3. No longer manually input data.
Crunching numbers: you either love it or hate it. I personally defer to the latter of the two.
Integrating an ecommerce POS system rids you of having to manually input data.
Not only does this save you a headache, but also loads of time. Imagine how you can spend that time otherwise? The possibilities are endless.
4. Offer cross-channel promotions and discounts.
Many ecommerce platforms make it easy to enable promotions within their own system, but a POS system integration takes it a step further.
No longer do you have to make a choice between applying all of your promotions to either online and offline channels.
Add a layer of personalization and customization to your store by enabling promotions with your POS system.
5. Learn more about your customers and leverage.
Just like most technologies we integrate in our businesses, they tend to teach us a lot about our customers.
Ecommerce POS system integrations are no different. By integrating your POS, you have clear insights into customer sales behavior.
“Having all your customer data in one place means you can view shopper behavior on both channels, allowing you to make tailored recommendations and market to them more effectively.” — Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert, Vend Point of Sale
When vetting out which POS solution is right for you, understand how data and insights are shared with you.
6. Improve customer experience.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the customer experience.
Just like in everyday life, it’s much easier when things connect.
By connecting your POS system to your online store, you create a seamless experience for your customers. You’re allowing them to pay in various ways thanks to POS software, make online ordering seamless, and even integrate marketing initiatives like loyalty programs.
This integrated solution will increase customer satisfaction and address business needs in real time.
5 Steps for Integrating your POS and Ecommerce Site
You understand the why — now you need the how.
Here are the five steps you need to take to successfully integrate your POS and ecommerce website:
- Evaluate your POS.
- Ask the right questions: POS and your online store.
- Set up POS and online store systems.
- Tweak product descriptions.
- Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.
1. Evaluate your POS.
Evaluating any technology investment is a big deal.
But, before you dive into any significant decisions about integrating your POS system with an online store, you’ll need to evaluate the state of your retail management operations.
- Do you already have a POS system in place?
- Do you have an existing website with or without an ecommerce component?
- Will you need to start from scratch?
I have a POS system in place.
You have a starting point.
Even if your existing POS system is ecommerce compliant, you’ll still want to evaluate the pros and cons of your existing POS system. What do you love, what do you wish was different?
If the pros outweigh the cons, take the next step and ask your POS provider what options are available to you when it comes to integrating with your ecommerce site. Get specific — what does the online shopping cart look like? What features and functionalities are native to their online software?
Confirm whether or not you want to continue with your existing POS system — be mindful that this decision will play an integral role in how you conduct your online and offline business moving forward.
I have a POS system that doesn’t integrate with ecommerce.
Bummer. Your existing POS system is historic — no ecommerce integration!
Have no fear, you have plenty of great POS options to choose from. Besides, chances are they will enhance your brick-and-mortar experience as well.
Think about what new modern-day experiences you want to be able to deliver to your customers. Maybe it’s contactless payments. Or maybe it’s an integrated loyalty program.
Jot down your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and can-do-withouts.
I have a cash register and am starting from scratch.
A fresh start. Clean, crisp, no hiccups!
Starting from scratch means you don’t have to worry about transferring inventory or other data. The world of ecommerce POS systems is your oyster!
When choosing from all the available options, be mindful of how well each POS system integrates across various aspects of your business.
This is arguably the most important aspect when it comes to POS system integrations.
Understand how each POS system works. How do you view inventory? Low-stock notifications?
Bonus tip — look to see if your POS system has a Quickbooks feature. This will make your back office easier to manage.
Using your POS system to handle customer management can be a great asset to your business.
Be sure to understand how the following features work:
- Customer profiles,
- Customer support,
- Buy online, pick up in store (or curbside delivery), and
- Mobile payments.
Returns and exchanges.
Unfortunately, the customer journey doesn’t end at purchase.
Your POS system needs to be able to easily handle returns and exchanges.
Have a customer that wants to return an online order in person — or vice versa? How does this process work? Is it easy for your retail business to handle these transactions?
POS hardware has come a long way in the past few decades. From janky cash registers, barcode scanners, and receipt printers to beautiful iPads, iPhones or Google Androids — your retail POS system hardware will look just as modern as the software itself.
You may be thinking, “hardware isn’t that important.” I am here to tell you that is incorrect.
When it comes to brick-and-mortar, chances are your customers are engaging with your hardware.
Take Square’s POS hardware as an example — chances are you’ve used it when conducting business with a small business, like a coffee shop. Customers are asked to use the touchscreen to finish payment transactions (e.g., adding tips, signatures, etc.).
Plus, they may prefer to pay by Apple Pay or another contactless card method — so, you’ll need a contactless card reader. See where this is going?
2. Asking the Right Questions: POS and Your Online Store
You’ve determined whether you are moving forward with your existing POS, looking to switch or are starting fresh. This is where the real research begins. Here are a few commonly asked questions.
How does the POS and Online Store integration work?
Understanding how your POS and online store will work together is essential. While every POS system integration looks slightly different, here’s what you can expect at a high level.
Information that is shared between the two include:
- Catalog syncing between your online and brick-and-mortar stores,
- Automatic inventory updates whenever you make a sale, online or in person,
- Data transfer of POS inventory to your online store — and vice versa, and
- A multitude of payment processing for both online and in-person transactions, giving you one solution for all your transactions.
“You also want your solutions to be in sync so that when you sell something in any of your stores, your system will always have the most updated information and figures. This is crucial, because staying competitive in today’s retail environment requires you to make decisions quickly, based on real-time data.” — Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert, Vend Point of Sale
Is information updated between the two systems in real-time?
You betcha. This is a huge added advantage to having a POS system integration with your online store.
Does the POS system integrate with other business management tools?
Yes. Just like your ecommerce store, many POS systems integrate with various business management tools.
At the minimum, to cover your bases, I recommend selecting a POS system that comes with an accounting software (e.g., Quickbooks). You can also choose to integrate tools like an email marketing system to enable order notifications, etc. Think about how you can use your POS system to make customer management easier.
Are there any additional payment fees for the integration?
This depends on your ecommerce platform (and what makes for a very important decision making factor when selecting one).
If you launch an online store with BigCommerce you’ll never be charged transaction fees and many POS integrations are native to the platform, including:
The only additional costs you would be confronted with are specific POS system features and your payment processing fees (e.g., credit card processing) which will vary depending on what payment options you provide.
Some ecommerce platforms, like Shopify, offer proprietary POS system integrations for free, but will charge third-party app fees to connect to the POS systems listed above — plus, added transaction fees on all payments processed.
What is the total cost of ecommerce and POS integration?
This will depend on your technology stack.
When calculating costs, take the total cost (whether it be month-by-month or annually) of your ecommerce platform, the cost to integrate your POS, and any added features and benefits.
3. Set Up POS and Online Store Systems
Congrats, you’ve selected a POS system! Now it’s time to get set up.
Depending on the agreement you have with your POS system provider, this may be a self-service task or one with assisted support from a customer service representative.
4. Tweak Product Descriptions
Product descriptions are often forgotten. As a former ecommerce merchandiser, I always stress the importance of taking the time to create high-quality descriptions.
You must understand your character count or product description standard with every POS system you consider. Keep in mind, you may also have to add or tweak product descriptions so they aren’t just short abbreviations that only you and your employees can understand.
Remember, your customers depend on your product descriptions to understand your products. A bad product description could hinder sales (and increase returns)!
5. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate
You’re up and running, but the journey doesn’t quite stop there.
Add routine checks to make sure your store operations and integrations are running smoothly. This will help prevent any hiccups and finding out about issues directly from your customers. (Yikes!)
Does a POS Online Store Integration Make Sense For Your Business?
You know the lingo and understand the benefits that POS system integrations bring to an online store. The reality is every business is built differently. Just because this technology is a fit for one company, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for yours. Unsure about what to do? Consider these two questions.
1. Do you need to improve operations?
If you’re currently operating your POS system and your ecommerce system separately, think of all the extra manual effort it takes to keep everything in sync.
Right now, someone has to process the sales orders, deduct the proper inventory, and track shipping information for every customer. It’s a lot of manual, required work. Plus, if you are a small business owner, chances are you are doing all of that and everything else under the sun.
Ask yourself: would integrating a POS system — that communicates across your sales channels — help save you time and effort?
2. Want to increase customer retention rates?
Think on this: Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% year-over-year customer retention rates compared to companies that don’t make any omnichannel investment.
We live in a time where convenience is king — and being where your customers are is vital. Consider what expanding your business online, bridged together with the right POS, could do for your business.
“The bottom line: With the right software, your brick and mortar POS system and ecommerce shopping cart can be a match made in retail heaven.” — Francesca Nicasio, Retail Expert, Vend Point of Sale
In 2020, customers expect lightspeed interactions and the highest quality of satisfaction.
Expanding your business online, bridged together with your brick-and-mortar business, can offer an amazing shopping experience for your customers.
An ecommerce POS integration is the key that will unlock this. Even better, there are plenty of options available for your business to use, whenever you’re ready.
Want more insights like this?
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