INTEGRATING SMART POS AND ORDER MANAGEMENT

by the VIRA Solutions team

Smart POS. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? The promise of a POS system that fully integrates with the rest of your enterprise, allows a whole host of customer-service functionality, and makes associates' jobs easier and more productive has been on the top of every retailer's wish list for some time. But once you've decided it's more than a wish, how do you go about getting and benefitting from such a system?

It starts with looking at what your business intends to do with it. Are you staying with traditional cash registers or going to mobile POS on tablets or carts? Will you include CRM and loyalty program support? Will you enable mobile payments? Which ones? And what about integration with your Enterprise Order Management (EOM) system? Each of these requires a series of assessments in how ready your business - and most importantly your sales associates - are to take on the additional functionality and workflow the new system will drive. What your customer demands from the system to support their desired experience should surely be a primary factor. And, of course, it requires a hard look at capital expenses and internal support structure.

For a minute, let's dive into EOM integration. There are a few great platforms that enable most or all of the functionalities list above, and allow selling from all available inventories (other stores, ecommerce, vendor-shipped, etc.). Having a platform that handles this means never having to say 'no, we don't have that in stock', or 'we don't carry that brand in our store' again. Which is obviously huge when it comes to consumer satisfaction.

What can become your biggest asset can also be your biggest integration nightmare if not properly planned and executed. Designing the POS solution to seamlessly talk with your other omnichannel systems - especially EOM - is critical from both functionality and adoption. Sales associates - who already are challenged by being constantly customer-facing and having a wide range of responsibilities in a time of decreasing staff levels - can quickly be the voice of poor experience to your customers. (We've all heard associates complain to us as customers about how their new system doesn't work as planned.)

So make sure your Smart POS is usable and your staff fully trained. Be realistic about implementation and testing. Be aware of its limitations and its strengths, and what customization is needed to make sure your other systems work fluidly with it. And above all, partner with a team that has experience planning, developing and executing a fully integrated omnichannel solution.