Retail customers are increasingly demanding a true omnichannel experience from their merchants of choice. To stay competitive, retailers need a flexible, best-of-breed point of sale (POS) solution that can integrate easily with their ERP and other back-end business solutions.
However, that integration is rarely smooth. ERP software vendors do offer POS modules, but they often lack the functionality needed to meet constantly evolving customer demands. At the same time, many third-party POS solutions are difficult (or at times impossible) to effectively integrate with other solutions without costly and time-consuming customizations that can make future updates more challenging.
Integrate Your ERP Like a Pro
iVend POS gives you ultimate flexibility with open APIs and native ERP integrations you won’t find with other point of sale systems.
Retailers want to choose both their ERP and POS solutions on their merits, while having the capability to easily integrate the two. Below we’ve listed five tips to help make that happen using an open API-based retail suite.
1) Define your integration goals first.
What do you hope to accomplish by integrating your POS and ERP solutions? Are there internal efficiencies you hope to gain? Are you attempting to implement an omnichannel sales approach? Do you need to improve your analytics capabilities? Some combination of those?
With clear goals in place, it will be easier to outline and identify the retail systems that will need to be integrated, and the data that these solutions will need to share.
“Don’t underestimate the value of integrating your POS and ERP systems. The single best decision you can make to improve your enterprise is to remove the barriers between these two systems. The implications for your organization are far reaching from improved analytics to a decrease in redundant, manual data processes,” says Paula Da Silva, EVP of Partners and Alliances – Global at CitiXsys.
2) Choose the right POS and ERP solutions.
Your integration will only be as good as the software tools you choose to integrate. While many vendors promise an easy integration or claim to have pre-built connectors to your business systems, the quality of those integrations (and the labor required to make them work) can vary significantly. Do some due diligence when it comes to investigating these claims – talk to customer references, and make sure your own IT team can test out these solutions (preferably using your own data) before making a decision.
An open-platform POS system is ultimately the only way to ensure this type of seamless integration. An open API allows developers to integrate with POS with the ERP and other solutions. With an ERP-agnostic approach, this type of POS can help streamline data exchanges between store systems, accounting, e-commerce, CRM, and other systems in a way that will eliminate manual data entry and ensure accuracy.
An open API approach also makes the POS solution “future-proof” in that you can more easily support any changes to your business software ecosystem over the long term.
3) Designate a “master architect” to manage the integration.
POS and ERP integration affect every aspect of a retailer’s business. As such, managing this project can’t be a part-time job. Identify an executive within your organization with high-level project management experience that can dedicate themselves full-time to the integration.
This project manager will need to get all parties and stakeholders on board, including employees from the C-level down to the store associates. To that end, you should select someone that has the ear of top executives, credibility within the organisation as well as the ability to sell the new system across the organization.
If you don’t have someone that fits the bill internally, then engage a third-party to help manage the integration. Without a clear, empowered project chief, it’s unlikely the integration will stay on track time-wise and stay within budget.
4) Don’t forget quality control (QC) measures.
The integration quality control team should have a deep knowledge of both the POS and ERP systems, as well as their behaviors in defined scenarios. Both systems should be tested thoroughly prior to the go-live to ensure the integration is working as expected under a variety of conditions.
Establish a tight, well-defined testing and go-live schedule and roll-out plan with agreed upon data migration, mapping, and testing milestones. This will help keep the project on schedule and avoid scope creep as things progress.
5) Have a clear ROI in place.
At the start of the project, use your previously defined integration goals to create a list of measures of success with which to gauge the integration. Gather data prior to the integration to establish a baseline, and determine just how improved operations under the new solution are expected to be.
For example, iVend Retail’s customers report a number of key improvements after an implementing iVend Retail solutions that contribute to ROI, including:
– 5%-10% increase in sales
– 1%-2% increase in net margin
– 10% reduction of inventory investment
– 20% increase in customer satisfaction
With those key performance indicators defined, make sure you have a way to effectively gather data to make those measurements after the deployment is complete.