(This post was originally published on June 11th, 2012. We’ve updated it for accuracy and completeness.)
Running a successful multichannel business takes many hours of hard work and a dedicated team of employees. There are a variety of factors that go into maintaining brick and mortar and eCommerce operations. When it’s going well, it’s hard to change things up.
But even for successful businesses, there are ways to improve operations, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. Through integration of your eCommerce and point-of-sale (POS) systems in store, your business can reach higher goals with ease.
Why Integrate Your eCommerce and POS Systems?
Integrating your eCommerce platform with your POS systems can seem daunting because of costs or risk of business disruption caused by the need to change existing systems. However, you’ll see that it becomes worth it when you consider the impact it has on your operations and customer experience.
Right now, you probably work out of both systems. When not integrated, your team is responsible for manually moving data between them. Employees hand-key data such as:
- Product data from POS to your eCommerce channels
- Sales orders from eCommerce to POS
- Decimating inventory levels after sales
- Shipping information and tracking status from POS to eCommerce channels
When these processes aren’t automated, mistakes happen. Shipping addresses are entered wrong. Inventory isn’t updated fast enough causing you to oversell. Product information could be incomplete, incorrect, or missing.
And, all these manual processes take time. It can take whole teams hours and hours to make sure all the data is transferred and accurate. This is time taken away from something more important – your customers.
When you don’t integrate your eCommerce and POS systems, it’s really your customer experience that is at stake. They won’t see accurate product data, will experience slow shipping times, and will see wrong inventory levels.
Benefits of eCommerce and POS Integration
eCommerce and POS integration, on the other hand, leads to benefits like these:
- Eliminate manual entry of data to save time, while reducing errors.
- Provide accurate inventory levels to avoid overselling
- Automatically notify customers when orders have shipped
- Allow customers to pick up online orders in store
- Share online customer data between online store and POS
- Be flexible enough to add more sales channels and handle the growth
Realizing the need to ingrate your systems is just the first step in bettering your business. Next, you’ll have to choose how you want to integrate. As you probably guessed, there are a few different ways to connect your POS and eCommerce systems.
Researching POS eCommerce Integration Solutions
Integration by nature is never easy. It takes two systems, not built to work together, and makes them play nice with each. Some systems are built for communicating to other systems better than others. However, more recent advancements in technology have given merchants more viable options.
When researching different POS and eCommerce integration solutions, be on the lookout for these types of integrations processes.
For this type of solution, your eCommerce system, whether a webstore or marketplace, “points” at your POS to synchronize sales data. It’s a direct connection. There’s no operational platform in the middle of your system, you must still manage your operations out of one of the systems. These are common and more affordable solutions for smaller retailers.
Multichannel Management Platform
This type of solution is usually cloud-based and provides a platform that sits between your systems as an operational hub. Ideally, it uses pre-built connectors to sync the data between your systems. The platform runs in the background of your system, but you can view the platform to see audits of the data and create workflows. This gives you more configurability and flexibility when adding or configuring connections.
These solutions can be more pricey, but still affordable to retailers who need more robust capabilities.
It’s possible to build your own custom integration between your eCommerce and POS systems, if you have the resources. Custom integration can be complex and expensive. Building your own solution only makes sense if you have the right resources and specific requirements to justify it.
What solution works best for you, depends on your budget and integration needs. To keep learning more about eCommerce, POS, and integration tips, check out these other articles:
- eCommerce ERP Integration: Why Retailers Should Integrate and How to Do It
- Avoiding Multichannel eCommerce Challenges
- eCommerce Inventory Management Best Practices
- Best POS Systems for a Small Business