Does your business have both an eCommerce website and a POS system in physical stores? If so, your customer experience may be at risk of disruption.
Guide to Integrate eCommerce and POS System
It’s important to retain and build trust with your customers by providing a consistent shopping experience through all touchpoints of the customer journey, from your brick-and-mortar stores to your mobile app and website. And while we spent so much time discussing the importance of optimizing your website and mobile experiences, there’s one important aspect to connecting your physical and digital shopping experiences that have received less attention: eCommerce and POS integration.
Why I need to integrate eCommerce and POS system
If you’re running your eCommerce and your POS system separately, let’s think about how many extra hours are spent on manual tasks and data entry for synchronization. While you’re reading this article, some of your staff are checking out orders for your customer with your in-store POS. They have to manually reduce stock inventory and send your customer the delivery tracking, wasting a lot of time and effort. We’re living in an era when convenience is the king. When you intend to expand your business from online to offline, you need to bridge two channels.
Integrating your eCommerce platform with your POS system can be a difficult decision. There’s always the cost and risk of disrupting business operations when you change existing systems. However, if you don’t invest now, you may lose more sales in the future. eCommerce POS integration leads to many benefits:
- Reduce errors and eliminate manual data entry to save time
- Keep accurate inventory levels to prevent underselling or overselling
- Integrate sales channels for growth
- Share customer data between POS system and website
- Notify your customers automatically right when you ship the orders
- Allow customers to pick up online orders in-store
- Offer the same online products at brick-and-mortar stores
- Sell digital gift cards that can be applied both on your website and your POS
- Provide a seamless customer experience across all your channels
- Understand customers behaviors through their omnichannel journey
Examples of integrating online to offline
You may feel overwhelmed when hearing the word omnichannel above, but providing an online to offline shopping integration experience is one of the simplest but effective ways to start. As a store owner, you probably understand that each customer has a different need, even in the way they purchase and receive your products. Let’s analyze some of the following practices and examples, which diversify the way you fulfill the orders while allowing customers to choose among the variety of delivery methods they love.
Click and collect
Click and collect, or “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS or BOPUS) is the case where your customers make an online purchase via your website and choose to collect the purchased items at a chosen store, instead of you delivering it to their home. Some customers don’t want to pay shipping fees while others don’t want to wait for some days. Try to take advantage of that eCommerce POS integration practice as it increases the number of customers to your physical stores, not to mention it makes your distribution easier and less costly. This is a mutual win-win for retailers and customers when both are satisfied.
The first step to implementing your store pickup strategy successfully is to ensure that the inventory level written on your website is correct. Or else, you may severely damage customer experience and satisfaction. Imagine if one of your friends said she wanted to buy a lego toy set for her son so she spent several minutes searching the internet before finding the right one. She was very careful to check the product availability at the chosen store. But when she arrived, she did not receive the goods but only the bad news that the store’s inventory system was wrong.
Retailers can build customer trust by delivering a positive experience with eCommerce POS integration. As soon as your customer places an order, your staff should be alerted about the store pickup order. Then, they can contact customers to confirm and report the availability of the order after a few minutes, clearly informing them of the order details, such as when the order is ready and which store they can receive the order.
However, as mentioned before, it should all start with accurate online product information, including inventory. Retailers can improve inventory visibility by using POS solutions that already connect with the inventory management of your online website. With eCommerce POS integration, your store staff has real-time access to products and inventory. Integrated inventory management helps you achieve better store operations and customer support. Automatically updated information between your online and offline store reduces human error, saving you hours or even days trying to fix or find the root cause.
Online shopping during a physical visit
A recent study by Google shows that 76% of customers still visit the store after they search for products online. Although your eCommerce store has many photos of your products, most customers want to visit stores to see, hold, touch, and experience the actual product before purchasing. However, some businesses have promotions that are only applicable on the website or have not set up promotional rules at offline POS yet. This will lead to a situation where customers visit your store but still want to pay online for orders on your website to enjoy promotions.
You can minimize this by integrating POS with your Magento website. When an online customer visits your stores, your staff can find the customer’s existing online information in the POS. Customers can use the rewards points accumulated on their online website to pay for their in-store purchases and receive bonus points for that POS order.
In the case of buying a gift card online or receiving a card from a friend, your customer can redeem it at the store or vice versa. In the same way, your customer’s in-store shopping behaviors and preferences along with other information they provide are recorded in the POS and then synchronized with your website. Centralized data on online and offline behaviors in one place by eCommerce POS integration gives you insights into their journeys and shopping habits. If there is a new promotion, you just need to set up the rules at the eCommerce backend admin and the changes will be applied immediately on the integrated POS system.
Returning items purchased online to a physical store
The customer journey doesn’t end at the point when they make purchases. Customers can buy online and then go to the store directly to exchange, or buy at the store but want to return at another location. Therefore, the process of exchange and return needs to be supported by quick information retrieval and easy operation workflow on the POS.
eCommerce POS integration is a lifesaver for this case because the store staff can access data synchronously from two sources and the returned goods are immediately updated to the inventory quantity. Thanks to the integration and single database, your customers will have a variety of shopping options in the most convenient way while your staff can handle the processes at ease.
However, realizing the benefits of integrating your systems is just the first step in improving your business. You know the why, now let’s move to the how. Next, you’ll have to choose how you want to integrate.
How to apply eCommerce POS integration
In fact, no businesses are the same. If the technology works for one business, it’s not always meant to be for you. With the right choice, your eCommerce shopping cart and your brick-and-mortar POS will be a perfect couple in harmony. Typically, there are 3 ways to integrate a POS system into an existing eCommerce platform.
1. Choose a native POS solution for your eCommerce
If you are a retailer that has successfully implemented omnichannel eCommerce, you can opt for an off-the-shelf POS solution that natively integrates with your platform. In case you are using a popular eCommerce platform like WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify, the good news for you is that these platforms definitely have a lot of built-in POS extensions.
- You just need to search with keywords such as Magento POS to find the POS that is already compatible with your Magento site.
- You can add some details to the search query to narrow it down like Magento POS on iPad, or PWA POS.
- After selecting a POS that matches your criteria of features, price, and reputation of the POS solution provider, you can purchase and install it (or have it installed by the providers).
- Once the installation is finished, your POS will begin the process of synchronizing information from your eCommerce site. This process is automatic and continuous so that all your POS at stores can always have the most up-to-date information. A native Magento POS will have the ability to display all the same products as your online business, create orders, create new accounts, and quickly access old customer data and their shopping history.
- Besides, you can do some customization on the theme of POS to suit your business branding and integrate online payment gateways.
This is considered the most effective approach in terms of both time and cost for eCommerce POS integration.
2. Customize an API to connect POS and eCommerce
If you can’t find a POS compatible with your eCommerce platform, or you already have a chosen POS and just need to make it work with your website, you can use an API to connect them.
- You can ask the POS providers if they have an API to connect with the eCommerce platform you’re using.
- You can build your custom API to connect POS systems and your eCommerce if you have specific requirements to justify and technical human resources.
- Or else, you can outsource solution providers to develop an API for you.
Custom API for eCommerce POS integration can be expensive and complex. But as long as you have the API, you can integrate your POS system with your eCommerce.
3. Use multichannel management platform for eCommerce POS integration
This type of solution gives you more room to configure the connection and add more connections flexibly if needed to robust capabilities. It often involves a platform that stands between your systems as a hub and is cloud-based. Thus, it’ll make more money and effort.
- It uses pre-built connectors to sync the data between your systems.
- The platform runs in the background of the POS.
- You can still view the platform to audit data and create workflows.
This eCommerce POS integration approach requires collaboration between your POS provider and eCommerce provider for mutual custom development.
It will take some time for you to do more research and make the right decision, but you will find it worth it in the long run for sure. Forrester research shows that the leaders in customer experience gain bigger and faster revenue than the latecomers. Thus, eCommerce POS integration definitely brings your business many benefits if you focus on building an omnichannel POS system and enhancing the shopping journey for customers.