When you own a retail business, you cannot just rely on one channel of sales in these challenging market conditions. In the last two years, the pandemic has changed the way people shop; there has been a marked increase in e-commerce sales. So, having an e-commerce store is a must. At the same time, there is a customer base for brick and mortar stores also. It is impossible to reject one channel completely and go with the other. So, providing an omni-channel shopping experience and retaining every customer is critical for success in retail business.
But this comes with its own challenges.
1. You have the same inventory, but multiple sales channels. When a product is sold through one channel, it should reflect in the inventory immediately. Otherwise, there is a chance of getting an order for the same item from another channel after it is sold. You may have to cancel the order, ultimately earning the dissatisfaction of the customer.
2. E-commerce provides opportunities for offers and discounts in unique ways. So, you may not be able to offer the same kind of discount in the retail store, creating a price difference between the two channels.
3. You have to enter the data manually for each channel to manage product catalog, inventory, purchase orders, etc. This is both time-consuming and expensive.
4. While e-commerce is designed to provide data on customer preferences and buying behavior, brick and mortar stores don’t have that luxury. So you will not have insights on part of the sales; without any insights, there is no scope for understanding customer preferences and personalization, especially in the brick and mortar store.
5. You may not be able to connect loyalty program and reward points collected from one channel to be used through the other.
All these downsides prevent you from giving a seamless shopping experience to the customers. The solution to this problem lies in e-commerce POS integration.
What is e-commerce POS integration?
E-commerce POS integration is the process of bringing together different online and offline sales channels under a single sales terminal. It synchronizes various software and hardw are components in your Point of Sale such as the cash register, digital payment hardware, etc., with a centralized sales management system that can handle online and offline orders and transactions.
Benefits of eCommerce POS integration
1. Provides a holistic view of the business
Businesses that have no e-commerce integration with POS can operate their e-commerce and retail channels only as separate entities without a comprehensive view of the complete business. POS e-commerce integration makes orders, billing details, updated inventory, gift cards and loyalty programs, customer preferences, etc., available across channels and captures sales data from every channel. This enables you to get comprehensive business insights and 360° view of sales performance, so that you can make quick, informed business decisions.
2. Removes the need for manual data entry
POS integration with e-commerce eliminates the need for manual data entry. The data is centralized, and hence it needs to be captured/entered/updated only once. For instance, if you enter the product details, unique identification number and detailed product description in the software, it is available in the catalog for both the online store as well as the retail store. This eliminates the need to enter data multiple times. Same applies inventory management, order management, tracking and offers.
3. Enables real-time inventory management
POS integration with e-commerce makes real-time inventory data and tracking possible. This enables retail businesses to proactively and automatically stock everything in right numbers depending on the data-driven forecast, so that items don’t go out of stock when customers look for them. It further reduces the bottlenecks in the flow of products between places, and makes shipping and order fulfillment quicker. More importantly, it prevents customers from ordering an item that is already sold out.
4. Increases speed and efficiency
E-commerce POS integration lets you manage multiple store fronts through a single terminal. It automates purchase orders, eliminates human errors, lets you efficiently track orders and collect sales data without having to break a sweat. When you can get everything in fingertips, the speed and efficiency of your operations increases significantly.
5. Makes offers and discounts available across all channels
E-commerce integration with POS lets you create promotions, discounts and offers in the system and deploy them across all the channels. So, the customers get the same offers and discounts regardless of whether they purchase from the online store or the brick and mortar store.
6. Makes business data-driven
Having more data lets you understand the customers’ preferences, the products that they are interested in and purchase behaviors in various channels. POS e-commerce integration pulls complete sales data from all channels. Analyzing the data and deriving actionable insights from it helps you improve customer relationship, provide more suitable product recommendations, personalize offers and serve customers better.
How can you achieve POS integration with e-commerce?
Choosing the right POS system and achieving E-commerce POS integration requires you to carefully analyze various factors and determine what is suitable for your business. Following are the steps involved in e-commerce integration with POS.
1. Check the current state of your POS
If you already have an e-commerce compliant POS system, you can integrate it with your e-commerce platform through the API. But the system needs to fulfill your requirements; so, the advantages and disadvantages of the system needs to be carefully evaluated.
If the software you already have does not offer e-commerce POS integration, then it will be impossible to unite the online and offline store fronts under one terminal. It is advisable to get a cloud-based POS system that directly integrates with your e-commerce platform.
If you do not have a POS system already, then you have to start from the scratch.
2. List out the features and functionality you want in your POS system
A good e-commerce POS integration does not necessarily mean just the compatibility of the system with your e-back end. It also means the system has all the features and functionality that you need. So, when you are choosing a POS system, you need to list out your expectations.
A good POS system usually offers powerful features to manage real-time inventory, customer details, customer support, order management and delivery, returns and exchanges, etc. A good POS system also works well with a large variety of POS hardware such as digital payment systems, cash counters, etc.
You can choose the system that suits your requirements the best.
3. Verify if the system will work well with your existing tools
When you achieve POS integration with e-commerce, it has to work seamlessly with your existing business tools and systems. It should also work well with your e-commerce platform. A good POS integration with e-commerce enables smooth flow of real-time data between online and physical retail stores, be it the product catalog, or inventory updates after sale or payment processing. It should integrate with other business management tools such as the accounting software, email marketing system, ERP system, etc. This will make sales data available across the systems automatically. So, when the management needs to take critical business decisions, it will be available to them without having to ask the concerned teams.
4. Analyze the cost of the system in relation to your budget
The cost of a POS system may vary depending upon the features and functionality you select. Further, some of the e-commerce systems demand extra charges for e-commerce POS integration. So, these factors need to be taken into account while allocating the budget.
5. Setting up the system
The ease of setting up a system and achieving e-commerce POS integration is paramount to getting it operational as quickly as possible. Some system providers offer a good customer support, and setting up the system will be easier with the help of a representative. It is better to choose a POS system provider who offers a good support.
6. Customize and start entering product details
Once you set up the e-commerce POS integration, you can verify if all the features are working properly as expected. You can make changes, customize and optimize the system, and start entering the product details, descriptions and images to build a catalog.
Top 5 POS eCommerce POS integrations
Following are the top 5 e-commerce integrations you can avail in the market today.