More and more customers conduct research online before visiting your store. This is a good thing. According to one study, shoppers who visited a retailer’s online store spent 13% more during their in-store visit.
This example shows why an ecommerce POS integration is so vital today. By connecting your POS and website, you ensure:
- Customers can see real-time stock levels online
- You provide an consistent experience regardless of the platform
- You maintain pricing and product consistency
Bottom line, if you sell in a brick-and-mortar shop and online, you need to integrate your ecommerce and POS solutions. This will create a single, unified system that helps you improve fulfillment, offer curbside pickup, and ensure your inventory is the same online as it is in-store.
So what is an ecommerce POS integration? And how do you integrate a POS with your website? This guide covers everything you need to know, including what it is, key benefits, and the exact process you can use to get it right.
Tables of Contents:
- What an ecommerce POS integration is
- Key benefits of POS website integrations
- How to integrate a POS with your website
- Considerations when integrating POS and ecommerce
What Is an Ecommerce POS Integration?
Retailers that sell through their website and also a brick-and-mortar shop need have two systems: A POS and an ecommerce platform (like Shopify, Magento or FTx Commerce). Your POS, for example, uses one database for pricing, inventory and customer data, while your ecommerce shop uses another.
The platforms don’t communicate in real-time, and without an ecommerce POS integration, a number of problems can happen. For example, you could have an issue with mismatched inventory. You’ve sold out of a product in-store, but your website still shows the product is in stock.
Why you should integrate POS with website
In short, an ecommerce integration means you create a unified platform for the POS and your online store. You link inventory, customer data, sales reporting, fulfillment systems and more to create a single, unified database.
For example, when you integrate your POS with your website, if a product is sold – whether in-store or online – inventory data is updated for both platforms.
Ecommerce POS integrations provide a single, unified platform to manage:
- Customer data – Create a shared database of customer data. This allows you to lookup customers at the register, even if they’ll only ever purchased online.
- Inventory – Manage inventory across platforms. Without an ecommerce POS integration, you would have to manually sync inventory sold online to update your in-store inventory. This creates the problem of mismatches.
- Order management – Seamlessly manage orders regardless of source. Whether an order comes in from your website or a ship-to-store product purchased at the register, a unified ecommerce POS platform helps you manage fulfillment.
- Pricing consistency – Integrating ecommerce and POS means you can instantly update pricing for your website and at the checkout counter. This ensures prices don’t mismatch from online to in-store shopping experiences.
Do you need a POS and website integration?
Technically, no. You can maintain a separate ecommerce platform and POS. For example, this might be preferred if you do most of your sales through one channel. An ecommerce shop that only takes a few orders in-person might not need a POS system.
However, if that ecommerce business grew brick-and-mortar sales, a POS integration would likely be necessary.
An ecommerce integration, therefore, is best if you plan to scale a particular channel. For example, if you’ve operated mainly as a brick-and-mortar shop, but plan to launch and grow your ecommerce sales, integrate your platforms before you get started.
Key Benefits of Ecommerce POS Integration
The customer journey is changing. Most shoppers want to shop your store online to see if they can buy a product in-store that day. Or they want to shop entirely online and get products shipped to their home.
By connecting your POS and your website, you cater to the changing needs of your customers. You’ll be able to:
1. Manage Orders More Effectively
When you connect your website and POS, you can see where orders originate and their status. This is especially helpful if you want to offer curbside pickup or ship to store for customers.
Ecommerce integrations allow you to:
- See where the order originated (online store, in-store, or marketplace)
- Check the preferred shipping option
- Facilitate easier buy online, pick up in-store (e.g. cashiers know that an order is paid for and can verify the customer)
Ultimately, an ecommerce POS integration allows you to automate order management.
Example: A customer purchase a laptop online and chooses pick-up in-store. Your staff receives the order details, pick-up time, and can prepare the order for pick-up.
2. Real-Time Inventory
Customers want to know if a product is available. Many check inventory online before they visit your shop.
Integrating your website and POS allows for real-time inventory across all channels.
This is challenging, if not impossible, without an integration. Real-time inventory also benefits sales associates. If a product is marked in-stock, they can trust that it hasn’t sold out online.
Example: Your customer purchases a product online. The inventory is updated in real-time in your POS and on your website. This eliminates the problem of selling a product twice.
3. Product and Pricing Consistency
Without an ecommerce integration, you have to update both systems when pricing or product details change. This creates the potential problem of price mismatches and the risk of inventory loss.
Example: You offer a discount for a product online, but forget to update in-store. When the customer purchases in-store, they confronted with a higher price than expected.
4. Better Customer Data
A unified platform allows use a single customer database. For example, you can see a customer’s purchase history across channels. This will help you better segment your customers and personalize your offers to them.
Another advantage: You can offer an omnichannel loyalty program and allow customers to earn rewards regardless of the channel.
Example: Your customer orders online and signs up for your loyalty program. When they shop in-store, you can look instantly look up their account.
5. Payment Processing
Using a single payment processor isn’t a requirement. For example, you might use a POS with integrated payment processing through your POS, and a different processor for online transactions.
The real benefit of using a single processor is reduced fees. Although online processing fees are higher, if you use a single provider, you can negotiate better rates. Additionally, when thinking about payments, consider the customer experience. Do you offer the right options to the user?
Example: A customer wants to reserve a product online and pay for it in-store. A unified system will make this option easier.
How to Integrate POS with Website: Step-by-Step
Generally, if you’re considering an ecommerce POS integration, you fall into one of these categories:
- Brick-and-mortar first – You have a POS system and you are expanding to ecommerce.
- Ecommerce first – You have an online store and want to integrate a POS to expand into brick-and-mortar.
- Starting up – You’re starting a business that will have brick-and-mortar and ecommerce sales.
The process to integrate your POS with a website will be similar for the first two options.
The third option offers flexibility. You’ll want to choose a POS platform that includes an all-in-one ecommerce platform (that you can add at any time). Or you can choose one that’s designed to easily integrate with your preferred ecommerce platform.
I. Brick-and-Mortar to Ecommerce: Integrating POS with Website
This is the most common scenario. You start with a cloud POS to run your brick-and-mortar shop. Now, you want to start accepting online orders.
Depending on the POS platform you use, this process can be easy. Here’s a general overview of how to integrate your POS with a website:
1. Choose an Ecommerce Platform
Explore your options. Top ecommerce platforms include Magento, BigShopify or WooCommerce. However, most modern POS systems include first-party ecommerce platforms, e.g. FTx POS and FTx Commerce.
If you choose a third-party provider, make sure your POS can link with the ecommerce solution. But if the POS doesn’t integrate with your preferred platform, you might also consider switching providers.
Pro Tip. A POS with a first-party ecommerce platform is best. This helps you avoid third-party integrations, saves on costs, and typically provides a more unified experience.
2. Contact Your POS Company
Connect with your POS provider’s support team. They will outline the process for you to help it go as smoothly as possible. With FTx POS, we offer support for:
- Payment Syncing – Connecting your payment providers. This can help you avoid using a different processor for online transactions vs in-store.
- Data Migration – You’ll need to import vital data from the POS to your ecommerce platform. This includes things like pricing and product database, customer database, and sales data.
- Fulfillment – Migrate your shipping options (if you have some in place already). If not, you’ll need to set shipping up in the ecommerce platform. Your POS provider can help with this if you use a first-party platform.
3. Build Your Ecommerce Site
You may have already started this process. If you have no website, you’ll need to build one and incorporate the ecommerce platform. This will allow you to have product pages and collection pages on your site.
Here’s how FTx Commerce works:
- You can choose and brand a template
- Integrate the template on your existing (or newly published) website
- Users can then shop through this platform
Generally, you’ll have your existing website, and then house your online store on a subdomain like shop.yourwebsite.com. Or you can turn the ecommerce shop template into your homepage.
II. Ecommerce to Brick-and-Mortar: Integrating Website with POS
You might also need to do a POS integration if you’re opening a physical location. For example, you run an ecommerce shop but want to open a showroom. You’ll need a POS system to handle in-store transactions.
Therefore, in this scenario, you already have the ecommerce platform. You then need to choose a POS that integrates with this platform. Here’s how that process would work:
- Check if the POS has an API and if it’s compatible with your ecommerce platform.
- Once you’ve found a platform, you can then begin to migrate data, integrate payments, and set your shipping options.
For the most seamless transition, it’s best to work with a developer. A developer will help you properly sync the platforms, and ensure you have no problems with data migration or ship-to-store processes.
Key Considerations When Selecting Integrating a POS in Ecommerce
The biggest takeaway is this: Find a developer. Although most entrepreneurs want to do things on their own, a seamless integration requires technical expertise. Choose a developer that has experience in building ecommerce experiences.
You’ll want to think about these specifics as you build a website that’s linked to your POS:
1. Technical Compatibility
Check for compatibility in software versions, protocols, and data formats to prevent technical issues. Not all POS and ecommerce platforms are compatible. Ask a developer to provide you options that are aligned to your goals.
2. Cost Considerations
There are two main costs to consider: The cost of the initial integration, as well as ongoing maintenance. The latter you can’t afford to miss. Maintenance will ensure long-term performance and security.
3. Customization and Flexibility
What custom options do you need? Do you want a basic ecommerce storefront? Or do you need a fully customizable platform? Generally, customizations will help you build a process that best suits your business. However, customization can drive up costs.
4. Think About User Experiences
This is an important step, and you should do this early in the development phase. Map out the user experience. What do you want your customers to be able to do? Define the exact order placement and processing workflow. Once you set this outline, you can begin to customize the process and move to full automation.
5. Data Security
Prioritize the security of customer and transaction data. Implement secure protocols that comply with industry standards. Generally, you’ll want to choose a developer with ecommerce experience who understands how to secure this type of data.
6. User Training
Finally, don’t forget to provide thorough training for staff. New processes – like curbside pick-up – should be explained in detail with hands-on training. This create better customer experiences, and help you identity potential issues before they arise. Specifically, make sure your staff knows how to:
- Manage inventory
- Process orders
- Answer customer questions
They should be able to do this regardless of the sales channel.
By automating procedures and synchronizing data across two channels, integrating your POS with your website offers many advantages. You’ll be able to make data-driven decisions and give your shoppers an experience they’ve come to expect.
Ultimately, it all boils down to the customer experience. Ask yourself this question: How will connecting my POS and online store better serve customers?
When you answer that, you can start to design processes and integrations that help you reach real sales and customer service goals. Need some help in the process? Contact FTx POS today to learn more about third-party integrations and FTx Commerce.