How a POS with Open APIs allows you to tailor and integrate rapidly and cost effectively
Businesses change – they adapt with the market, with customer demands, with new technology. Retail is one of the fastest moving markets and certainly has some of the most demanding customers. The balance of power has changed from retailers providing a service and customers having to accept it, to customers making clear demands about the levels and types of engagement that they want, and voting with their feet and wallets if they don’t get it.
There’s therefore a very strong chance that the business requirements you had when you selected your point of sale system are not exactly the same as your requirements now. If you’re listening to your customers and understand what they want, you may have to adapt your business to deliver exactly what they are asking for. That could mean retraining your staff, re-designing your stores, changing your stock and it could also mean adapting your POS systems to add new functionality.
Adapting a POS system can be a very expensive business. Many POS vendors do not offer the opportunity to do this work yourself or work with a partner. They reserve for themselves the right to make changes, and effectively have a monopoly over any and all work to adapt your systems. Which ties you in to their costs, their availability and their time frames. Not an ideal situation for cost effective management of your business.
For retailers who choose a POS with open Application Programming Interfaces (open APIs) however, the world looks very different. They have the option to adapt, develop additional modules and build ERP integrations themselves, or select a partner to do the work for them. They are not tied to the POS vendor and subject to their timeframes and costs. A POS system that incorporates open APIs is designed to be adapted. The APIs are a ‘window’ into the system that allow the retailer to make changes, without having to touch the underlying POS code. Changes that might include:
- Adapting the POS to meet business specific requirements
- Developing new modules to add custom functionality
- Building integrations between the POS and their ERP
Open APIs allow the development of new functionality seamless integration into the existing POS. They do not need to understand, or make changes to the POS itself, they simply need to ensure that the new code is written to the API standards. This makes developing and integrating new functionality much simpler.
Open APIs not only simplify development, but also make it much more cost effective. Once you are untied from the monopoly situation where only the POS vendor can make changes – to their own timeframe and at the cost that they determine – the retailer is free to use their own in-house team or a business partner, and to ensure that the work is done at a competitive market rate. The retailer has total control over costs and timeframes.
Chateau d’Ivoire, a specialist jewellery retailer in Canada, faced exactly this issue. On reviewing their business, they realised that the highly individualised nature of their operation meant that they could not find all the POS functionality they needed off the shelf and would have to customise. They also needed a whole new tailored module to manage the repairs side of their business that was such an important part of driving revenue and building the long-term customer relationships that differentiated them in the market.
They chose iVend specifically because the open APIs gave them the flexibility they needed to customise and to build and integrate additional modules. Then they selected a partner with development and integration expertise with SMEs to develop the customisations, build the repair module and manage the implementation alongside SAP Business One as an integrated ERP. iVend’s open APIs meant they were able to go to the market for a development partner, rather than being tied to a POS or ERP vendor meant they were sure they were receiving value for money and a timeframe that suited their business demands.