Retail is so not dead. Outdated retail is pretty sick though.
With retail eCommerce sales headed from an estimated $4.2 trillion in 2020 up to $6.5 trillion in 2023, this is a whopping 54% forecast growth in just 3 years!
Still, share-wise, eCommerce is expected to represent only 14.5% of total retail in the USA (one of the most mature digitally-savvy markets) in the year of the global pandemic.
So traditional retail is not dead at all, with the vast majority of sales still happening offline!
Retail shop owners are getting rightfully concerned about the future of their brick-and-mortar shops though, and the looming dominance of eCommerce.
This is why they pay attention to the key piece of digital property they already have in their physical store: POS – Point of Sale systems.
POS is a bridge between the world of retail and eCommerce. If you have a POS installed to manage inventory and sales in your brick and mortar shop, starting an eCommerce business is a mere technicality.
Let’s see how retail shop integration with POS to eCommerce can be implemented, why retailers should do it, and what pitfalls to look out for.
What’s eCommerce Point-of-Sale Integration About?
Any POS system is a wealth of data as is: it registers all the sales in a physical store, has every SKU number, description, price, inventory, and a myriad of other data points.
This is your bold and underlined point A, your foundation, and the source for your future tidal waves of eCommerce sales.
Your point B is a fully-fledged online shop with inventory, payment system, delivery terms, images, and other relevant data.
When you integrate your POS with your online store, you basically marry the two systems together, usually via an API and enable conditions whereby the data flows seamlessly between them.
This means that each of the items you sell will have the specific fields filled in only once (like size, number of items in stock, discount, SKU, color, name of the item, category, etc). When systems are integrated via the API, all of the data will be transferred to other channels in real-time mode.
The Shorthand Algorithm of eCommerce POS Integration:
So, you have a physical store and POS managing sales. You decide to go big and evolve your business into a fully-fledged eCommerce operation. With all the POS data you have been collecting for years, experience in handling customers, knowing their tastes, and managing inventory, you are set for success.
Business people who go from retail offline sales to online sales have a wealth of experience in sales to draw from. They can succeed and outperform newbies who jumped directly into eCommerce without any prior sales experience, in no time.
These are the first steps to enable eCommerce integration based on POS data:
- You check whether your POS has contracted eCommerce solutions, that it can be integrated with it.
- From the list of options compatible with your POS system, you choose the best eCommerce platform or solution according to your budget, scaling ambitions, number of SKUs, deadlines, etc.
- You pay for the eCommerce solution or custom eCommerce web development if this is your choice, and set up an online store.
- You transfer all the data from your POS system to your newly created shop by following eCommerce integration with the POS manual provided.
- You set up a payment system, delivery and customer service, and you are now ready to sell online.
Now that we know a quick algorithm, let’s deep-dive and see all the best practices and potential pitfalls of POS eCommerce integration.
Point of Sales Software Requirements & Must-Have Parameters
The diverse supply of cloud-based, SaaS, premise deployment point of sale solutions is enormous, so it’s critical to know what you are looking for when considering a POS to start with.
These are the parameters valuable to retail business owners who are in the market for a reliable, scalable point of sale:
- Barcode scanning
- Sales tracking
- Inventory Management
- Retail POS
- eCommerce integration
- Returns Management
- Commission Management
- Discount & Gift Card management
- Loyalty Program
- Customer Account Profiles
It's also important to take into account the operations system that the POS is compatible with and the type of deployment used. You may want to check out whether this is a web-based, cloud, SaaS solution, or one that needs to be installed on your servers and run on Windows or Mac, and find out if they are compatible with iPhone/iPad and Android.
Popular Retail POS Systems for Small & Medium Business
These are some of the best retail POS systems that are a perfect fit for smaller and medium business entities:
If you don’t have a POS system yet or you are not happy with your outdated system, consider deep-diving into this subject before you move on to purchase one. These are some good overviews:
- 10 Best POS systems for retail by Tech.co
- 8 Best POS systems 2020 review by QucikSprout.
- 5 Best POS systems for Small Business by Business.Org
Benefits of An eCommerce POS Integration
Omni-Channel Selling: All-Encompassing Presence as The New Norm
To illustrate just how vital omni channel presence is for your commercial success as an eCommerce entrepreneur, it suffices to say that businesses with omnichannel presence retain on average 89% of their customers vs just 33% average retention of customers for companies with weak omnichannel engagement.
Most of the POS systems will enable a smooth flow of the data to multiple channels, like:
- eCommerce store(s);
- Marketplaces (Amazon, eBay);
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram)
Such integration provides a plethora of benefits and competitive advantages, like a 360-degree overview of the customer journey, a full map of customer touchpoints with the brand, endless possibilities to retarget and remarket.
No More Manual Data Input
While manual data input may seem like a stress-free thing, doing it for thousands of SKUs does get extremely tedious.
When you integrate the website point of sale, key data points flow by themselves from one system into another. What a time-saver!
Real-Time Inventory Overview. No More Over-Selling
Overselling is a hassle, as you have to refund the money paid by the customer for a product that you ran out of, waste accounting resources, take up the customer care department's time, and add an unhappy customer to your digital karma.
Real-time inventory is a once revolutionary and now default feature of all POS systems that are eCommerce compatible. All of the systems are in sync with inventory being fed from the POS to all other channels seamlessly via API.
This innovation eliminates a lot of operational and financial hassle as well as prevents heaps of customer dissatisfaction arising from any overselling situation.
Cross-Channel Deals & Discounts
Revenue management may be hectic.
Once the decision is made to move certain items or product categories by offering a sweet deal to your clients, applying this marketing strategy across all channels and in your physical stores may be quite labor-intensive.
eCommerce POS allows businesses to implement all promotional campaigns across the board with a quick session of tweaking the promotional settings.
Now your buyers may expect consistent offerings across all of your selling channels: online and offline, which always improves the credibility of a business.
Leverage Customer Data to Grow the Business & Optimize Processes
Connecting all of the channels to a single processing center allows users to collect a wealth of data for potential customers as well as existing clients.
Data, in turn, is a powerful resource for business optimization, personalization, and more precise targeting. So you can always offer your buyers exactly what they are looking for: in terms of style, color, size, and textures.
Steps for Successful Integration of Retail POS and an eCommerce Site
Current POS or Ex-POS
The first step is to evaluate your starting point. Once you have a POS running at your brick-and-mortar store, check on whether it’s good enough to take it to your bright and shiny eCommerce future.
Is it compatible with eCommerce software? Does it have an API? Is it packed full of the features that are enumerated above? How competitive is it pricewise? Is it updated and modernized every now and then, or is this a rudiment that belongs to the 20th century, when you first acquired it?
Match Made in Digital Heaven: POS & Online Store
Get yourself up to speed in terms of what the modern eCommerce requirements and default settings are. Once you embark on a mission to be competitive, it’s worth going all in – and getting prepared.
With SaaS and cloud-based solutions, there are affordable POS and eCommerce software solutions that you will need to compare across a range of parameters: compatibility, pricing, functionality, ease-of-use, etc.
Real-time data exchange, automatic inventory updates, and product synching should all be on the menu.
POS Integration with Online Store Systems
Depending upon which stage of the eCommerce store creation journey you are at, the integration itself can be done either by you, with a little help from the manual or via the tech help team.
When all things are said and done, the data available in your POS will be migrated to the eCommerce store.
Substantiate Product Descriptions & Add images
Your POS has plenty of data, but some fields will need extra attention: product description and product images are your top priority.
Images are the most basic customer expectation when it comes to online shopping. Ensure that you update all your SKUs with the high-res images at different angles, so that your store looks professional and can convert more traffic.
The product description is also ultra-vital – for customers as well as for Google search results. Use a few keywords and make sure that potential buyers have no questions left unanswered – specify every little thing known to yourself about the product.
Keep Checking, Reviewing and Testing
Once your systems are happily integrated, keep an eye on them. Monitor for errors, misconnects, and shutdowns.
It's vital you check quite a few random categories and items to see that the data flows seamlessly in real-time.
Do I Need A Retail POS Integration with eCommerce Store?
Once you decide to go online, you will have to overcome a few hurdles, it’s true. But by doing so you extract your business from out of the dinosaurs’ league. Your retail business will survive.
Even though retail is not dead yet, some of it will sure go extinct.
Those are the ones without any effective digital presence.
You don’t wanna belong to that batch.
Consistency between your physical store and online shop is vital for several reasons, like: higher conversion, lower returns, better inventory management, a more successful promo campaign, higher customer retention, and better up sales figures.
But if you are looking for one solid reason why you need to expand your retail business into eCommerce and integrate the POS system with a website: it is to save it from extinction.
Zoolatech Can Help: Integrate eCommerce with POS System with Pros
eCommerce POS Integration is a multilayered process that may get overwhelming for a novice. It's laden with nuance and technicalities, that are tough to squeeze into an article – however detailed.
If you decided to take the plunge and expand into ecommerce from your retail business – we'd be delighted to provide free consultation on your best options based on your specific budget, current POS, timeframe, target audience, and ambitions.
Speak to one of our custom eCommerce development gurus to go over possible scenarios and to implement the best POS and eCommerce integration. We will be delighted to provide you with an offer in a matter of one or two days.
Zoolatech is rooted in Silicon Valley – so you can expect the top expertise in what’s hot in eCommerce. Our technical team is feeling comfy in the heart of Ukraine, Kyiv – this makes our rates pretty attractive compared to those coming from western Europe or the USA.
Let’s get that data flowing between the systems for your new and shiny eCommerce endeavor! You will love the ease technology brings and enjoy managing it all for both online and offline worlds from your streamlined mission control.