March 2, 2017

Selecting new technology | What does POS integration mean?

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When it comes to retail technology, integration to the POS is crucial. Without proper POS integration, devices operate and produce data in a silo data that must be interpreted and communicated elsewhere by store-level employees. Corporate employees must then aggregate this data from all stores to get the information they need, making dealing with the devices a time-consuming and error-prone endeavor.

Lately, many retail system and device vendors have been stating that their technologies offer POS integration. This can be confusing for retailers, who often aren’t sure what the vendor truly means by integration until implementation is well underway.

As you consider new technologies for your business, you should carefully investigate what level of integration you’ll actually see in your stores and fully understand the benefits you’ll see from that level of integration. You should also find out what the integration involves on your part. Start by asking:

Is it real-time?

When does the device deliver its data to the POS server for reconciliation? If the integration involves a once-a-day file transfer, that’s not going to give store or corporate users the information they need to operate optimally or solve problems fast.

Is it bi-directional?

Is data being transferred from the POS server to the device and back? Most hardware devices can’t receive information from the POS. This lack of bi-directional integration means store employees don’t know whether a register it is over or short without additional work. A currency management platform aggregates the data of many devices, uses information from the POS to confirm totals by denomination, and quickly identifies over/shorts and other important metrics.

Is at the transaction level?

Many systems, especially counting devices, provide totals that must be interpreted by store employees and manually entered into other systems, like a general ledger. Without transaction-level detail, store employees spend unnecessary time searching for mis-tendered checks or missing currency that caused a discrepancy. Transaction-level integration means you can identify specific transactions that are over or short by denomination and address them accordingly.

Is it automated?

Systems and devices that offer integrations requiring manual push or input to the POS leave opportunity for error or manipulation of data by employees. True integration seamlessly, automatically occurs without interaction or interference by employees.

What is required of my IT team?

We often see systems and devices that tout POS integration as a feature, but integration ends up putting extra burden on the POS vendor, the retailer’s IT team – or both.  Dig into what part your IT team will play in the implementation of any POS-integrated device. Will they be given a software development kit to integrate the system themselves? Will your stores need physical visits to manage the hardware integration? Understanding the scope of work is key you don’t want to end up paying more for the system than you intended with your IT team’s time.

What kind of reporting will I see?

One of the top benefits of true POS integration is the reporting you get on over/shorts, cash inventory by denomination, deposits and more — so you can take action quickly. Examine samples of reporting you will get from the device and determine whether it will give you a clear picture of your enterprise and help you make quicker decisions about your business. Often device reporting can be limited or siloed, requiring aggregation with other reports by corporate employees to create a comprehensive view of the business.

Selecting new technology can be a daunting process that has a big impact on your organization. From implementation to employee training, it’s going to affect a lot of people in your business. Make sure you get what you’re paying for.

 

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Image: iStock