What is POS and eCommerce? We define this below. But when people mention 'POS and eCommerce', they mostly refer to the integration — connecting your online retail shop with your POS software.
Today, integrating the your online and offline operations with sophisticated retail POS and eCommerce software is now vital for retail success. In this article, we tell you why.
Dramatic events across the world have changed everything, including the way we shop.
Today, shoppers have entirely different buying habits and (higher) expectations. They’re savvy, discerning and use more than one shopping channel for their purchasing decisions. It’s not enough to simply offer one retail channel.
TIP:Retail gets a whole lot better with better omnichannel software. To show youhow, Retail Express offer free customised demonstrations. We’ll ask questionsand listen to your needs, then tailor a demo specifically for your business. Get a free demo today with an Australian-based retail expert today.
Omnichannel retail is essential for retail success
Retailers have to be everywhere now. ‘Omnipresent’ if you like.
Omnichannel is the name of the game — a seamless customer experience that offers multiple shopping methods, either on or offline. Today's savvy retailers are integrating their eCommerce POS systems and reaping the benefits of automation, better branding and a better bottom-line.
If you haven’t yet integrated your bricks and mortar store/s with your online shop, don't hold back. Yes, it involves rolling up your sleeves and embracing change.
But having an omnichannel retail strategy that gives your customers what they demand is essential.
And it's affordable for even smaller retail businesses to deeply integrate their POS and eCommerce software.
And there is another upside.
Retailers who’ve embraced the change often wish they’d done so long ago. Why? Because integration makes things so much better for your customers — and easier for you to manage. It unlocks insights and possibilities that make taking your business to the next level that much easier.
Let’s look at these critical changes in consumer habits, and how you can make the change to integrate your POS and eCommerce store.
How retail store shopping & eCommerce has drastically changed
Online sales figures are skyrocketing in Australia and New Zealand. Sales were increasing pre-pandemic, but now the growth has been exponential, with no sign of slowing down.
But a large percentage of customers don’t just use the online shop for purchases. It’s a way of researching and learning more about the product — and securing orders ahead of time.
For example, a customer sees that their desired product is available in-store and purchases it, choosing Click and Collect. This allows them to collect it on the day without paying freight or waiting for delivery.
Today’s consumers are cross-pollinators, buzzing from online to offline and back again — taking their own sweet time in the decision-making process. To keep up, Aussie and Kiwi retailers now need a totally different game plan to succeed.
Recent research by Think with Google and Gfk also confirms these omnichannel trends.
“People are increasingly walking their own lines — and brands must adapt to meet them.”
Consumers expect brands to meet them wherever they are.
According to their research, “Consumers felt 52% more positively towards brands that connect with them both online and off-line, as compared with brands that only interact with them on just one channel.”
Today’s shopper knows exactly what they want
Gone are the days where most shoppers would aimlessly trawl the retail store.
Today’s shoppers are savvy. They often know exactly what they want, and they want to research first. Plus, they want to know which shop they can collect it from. What’s more, they’re impatient. Many don’t want to wait for days, preferring to pick up on the day or have next day delivery.
The pressure for retailers is on.
eCommerce & POS integration
First, let’s be clear about the terminology regarding eCommerce and POS integration.
- What is a POS (Point of Sale) system? A point of sale system is what allows customers to complete their purchases. POS can include both software and hardware. Back in the day (some 150 years ago), it referred to the humble cash register. Later, touchscreen POS systems came on the market, particularly in restaurants. Today, they are widespread in restaurants and stores. Specifically, the point of sale is the exact moment when a transaction between a buyer to merchant takes place. This happens both online and offline. Over time, retail POS software has evolved to encapsulate a broader suite of sophisticated tools used across the business. Retailers can use POS software to manage most of their back-office business operations (e.g. inventory and warehouse, fulfilment, suppliers, products and pricing, marketing, loyalty, customers).
- What is eCommerce? eCommerce is electronic commerce (aka e-Retail, online shopping). It’s all the commercial activities that someone can conduct online. And to make a sale online, you need a payment process.
- What is eCommerce POS integration? eCommerce POS integration is the digital solution that connects your online retail presence (managed through eCommerce platforms like Shopify or Marketplace portals) with your POS software. The POS software feeds live data to your eCommerce store or marketplace (e.g., inventory levels, product and pricing, customer profiles). It also handles most critical business processes after an eCommerce order is placed (fulfilment to the customer, removing the item from inventory, etc.). It allows you to centralise all your data and processes into your POS system so that you can manage everything in one place.
Point of sale software grows up
Times have changed.
In earlier days, POS and eCommerce software weren’t so smart. Retail businesses were forced to start their online stores with separate inventories and POS systems. eCommerce was an experiment for some, so any online point of sale system would do. At the same time, there wasn’t integrative POS software with flexible features for the more ambitious.
Separate inventories caused a lot of problems.
Staff would manually enter online orders and spend hours transferring stock between the online store and physical warehouse. They’d manually update loyalty points and endure tedious hours preparing reports combining data from both systems.
There was no way to see a live inventory of data across all stores. The software was expensive, buggy and complicated to use. It was overall frustrating, costly and time-consuming.
Fortunately, some POS systems have come a long way.
5 Lucrative Benefits of eCommerce POS integration
Merging your POS and eCommerce is about creating a seamless experience. It’s about improving communication between retailer and customer, increasing touchpoints (places where your brand is seen/experienced) and interconnecting. All these things satisfy and reward today’s new shopper. But don’t forget — they’ll also make life easier for your staff and considerably minimise your admin expenses.
Let’s take a look at 5 key software integration benefits.
1. BE LOCKDOWN READY: Ensure your business thrives no matter what happens-
We now know that the world can change in a heartbeat. To survive, we must be smart and agile. Integrated software ensures you have the flexibility to move where your customers can and want to go. Whether it’s online sales, Click and Collect, social media shopping, phone orders or curbside pick-up, integration is integral to ongoing retail success in uncertain times.
2. LIVE STOCK INSTORE: Real-time stock reports encourage sales as customers can see what’s available-
When customers see live stock level availability, they know you have the desired product in stock. And if they want it right away, they can get it — by picking it up at the nearest store. Your foot traffic will increase, and they'll likely buy more when they visit.
Retailers can also quickly transfer stock between stores, making sales that would otherwise fall through.
For example, perhaps a woman wants a size 7 lilac sandal in Sydney’s Bondi Junction. The shop assistant can check availability and find the desired shoe in their Chatswood store. Then, the shop assistant can organise a transfer to the store or directly to the customer’s home, whichever she prefers.
It’s an exceptional experience for both retail staff and shoppers.
3. GIVE CUSTOMERS MORE CHOICE: Provide a better shopping experience-
Similarly, by being available online and in-store, Click and Collect becomes possible, giving customers a better shopping experience. Plus, you’ll enjoy more sales. For example, customers can research, then secure their order via Click and Collect, which is increasingly necessary for today’s retailers.
According to the Australia Post and Power Retail August 2021 Insights report, 31 % of consumers will abandon their cart if Click and Collect is not offered. 31 % of sales is a staggering amount, yet many retailers are still dragging their feet.
And there’s another Click and Collect bonus: with the right systems, their pick-up experience can be instant. As soon as the shopper places their order online, the product is reserved in-store. The store staff then get a live alert, and the customer can go straight to the store and get their goods.
4. LOYALTY & MARKETING: Increase branding and profit margins with lucrative cross-promotions & loyalty-campaigns across channels-
Consolidate your customer data, and you can offer attractive, brand building loyalty programs, gift cards, enticing discounts and coupons available for use both off and online. It’s an excellent way of improving the shopping experience and growing loyal, repeat customers — which is absolutely the aim of the game.
Studies repeatedly show that new customers are up to seven times more expensive to attract. And according to Harvard Business Review, “Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
5. DATA AUTOMATION: Say goodbye to manual data input and save precious time-
When run side-by-side, reconciling data between your POS system and eCommerce platform is a recipe for headaches and wasted valuable time. And it’s not immune to costly errors. Data automation allows you to have all your information in one place and have access to actionable reports on your entire operation..
You’ll no longer have to constantly perform updates — including when online or offline orders are made. Human error is eliminated. Plus, data automation will free up considerable time — time you can spend on business-building activities that give a far more profitable return.
What to look for in an eCommerce POS system software provider
When looking for the best eCommerce POS solution, ensure your provider can deliver what you need now — and in the future. Your software must be able to grow with you. The Internet is full of providers offering extended free trials or free software (read about the hidden cost of ‘freemium’ software here) but tread carefully. If you find yourself too far down the wrong path, it’s an expensive exercise to back out and start again.
When choosing your eCommerce POS system, ask these vital questions:
1. Will it support all your existing and future channels?-
For example, your POS software should integrate with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Neto and WooCommerce, accounting software like Xero and MYOB, and payment providers like Afterpay and zipPay — to name a few of many possible integration options.
2. Does it allow for growth?-
Choosing powerful POS software with an inbuilt potential for growth is a smart thing to do. Proper POS setup is crucial for making sure that your retail business is all set for growth - and that you won’t need to switch to another POS system any time soon.
‘Integration’ is not enough. These days, integrating your business apps with your POS is a pretty standard feature. And don't be fooled by the long list of supported apps; it's the depth of integration into your eCommerce website that matters.
3. Will the POS software satisfy our needs — and integrate deeply?-
A provider that offers ‘integration’ is not enough. These days, integrating your retail business apps with your POS is a pretty standard feature. And don't be fooled by the long list of supported apps; it's the depth of integration into your eCommerce website that matters.
There are plenty of cheap systems on the market today. But they're best suited to small pure-play e-retailers or single-store 'cash and carry' retailers with a modest number of products.
If you plan to move to omnichannel and expand, choose powerful software with the functionality and POS eCommerce integration capabilities that can handle complexity.
On the other end of the spectrum, fancy enterprise software solutions deliver detailed customisation and functionality. But they come at a big cost, not just financially but strategically — even for the largest retailers. These software solutions often waste resources on configuring and customising, leaving them out-of-step with market trends. Plus, they depend on having a team of in-house IT experts. What’s more, most employees (front and back-end) aren't confident using the software.
The ideal solution is something in the middle: an affordable, agile, intuitive system with the omnichannel features you need, ready to go. A solution that doesn't require months of software development, each time there's a new development.
4. Is it secure?-
You’ll be compiling sensitive information such as your sales reports, income, stock levels and customer profile information, so your POS software must be secure and cloud-based. Retail Express offers robust data security through Microsoft Azure and also a secure system migration. Plus, you get a 99.9 % guarantee of network uptime, so there are no worries about system failures at those crucial times.
5. Will you get expert guidance and exceptional ongoing support?-
Retail Express is known for both its thorough onboarding assistance and outstanding ongoing support.
First, we assign every customer with a dedicated AU Success Manager (who has a retail background) to help you through every stage of the onboarding/set-up process. Taking your country’s retail specifics into account is crucial for your success, which is why Australian-based guidance and support is so good.
After your set-up process, we stay with you, offering ongoing, real-time support. You simply contact the Australian-based customer support team (all of whom have professional retail experience) via phone or email, 24/7, and get a reply within 60 seconds.
Our background as retailers means we know that the support you get is as important as the software itself, so you can guarantee you’ll never be left high and dry.