As a retailer selling in multiple channels, it can be challenging to manage your operations and maintain data accuracy across your tech stack.
Yet this is fundamental to providing a seamless customer experience that matches the biggest merchants — for example, allowing customers to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS), buy online and return in store (BORIS), or for you to fulfill online orders with your retail inventory.
To do this, you need Magento integrated with the other platforms in your stack, including your store point of sale (POS) system. And you need to distribute truth across that stack. But for retailers using Magento, the thought of possibly disrupting or destabilizing the customizations and tuning you’ve performed on your Magento site can induce palpable anxiety.
In this post, we’re going to tell you how you can integrate your Magento store with your POS system — without adding undue complexity, risks, or costs. We’ll dive into:
- The benefits of a seamless integration between Magento and your POS, and;
- Your options for a Magento POS integration, comparing custom solutions, specialist integrators (like Accumula), and Magento POS extensions/plugins.
First, let’s take a quick look at the advantages of integrating your online and offline operations.
What Are the Benefits of Integrating Your POS and eCommerce?
Combining online selling with one or more physical stores can cause a headache. You either have one team working within multiple systems, or multiple teams working in various disparate systems — almost like running your online and offline operations like two separate businesses.
And when it comes to inventory and order management, you’re hamstrung by the limitations of each system, unable to make all your inventory available in real-time, and prevented from reliably offering the services customers now expect from modern retail, such as BOPIS, BORIS, and find-in-store.
The benefits of bringing together your eCommerce and in-store systems include:
- Making everything available online, so none of your valuable inventory is hidden away unsold and unviewable on warehouse shelves.
Note: Overselling is also less likely when you integrate your eCommerce and POS, because you’re not having to manually shift inventory between different systems (and using Accumula, you can also hold back safety stock).
- You can fulfill delivery orders from anywhere, not just your warehouses. Offer a ship-from-store service to provide quicker delivery or balance inventory, and open up new delivery and collection options for the customer.
- Company culture improvements, due to your teams not competing for inventory and orders. Removing the “us and them” feeling in your organization and creating harmony.
- Not having an extra software solution in the middle acting as a single source of truth (e.g. an inventory management system) which means less training, and less manual work.
One of Magento’s core benefits is its endless opportunity for customization. It’s a heavy-hitting eCommerce solution, suitable for retailers who manage huge volume, complex products, and sell in multiple locations and languages. But this makes any integration a daunting project, because even the smallest code error can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost sales.
With this in mind, it’s important to know that some solutions offer more stability and scalability than others.
In this next section, we’ll take a look at a few integration options.
How to Integrate Your POS and Magento: Three Options
When it comes to integrating Magento with your in-store POS system, you have three options:
- Developing a custom integration yourself.
- Using a specialist integrator, like Accumula.
- A Magento POS Extension from the ecosystem.
Let’s dive into these options in more detail.
1. Developing a Custom Integration
Many Magento users are tempted to build a custom POS integration. This is because developers have already been involved in their eCommerce solution, so it makes sense for them to offer this service. But you may find yourself hamstrung with a solution that’s difficult to support, and you’ll be on the hook every time any issue comes up. If the developer(s) responsible for building a custom solution aren’t available to fix the problem, this becomes severely disruptive.
And as a Magento user, you’ll be familiar with your developer’s hourly fees. Building a custom POS integration can take anywhere from 200-500 hours ($8,000-$100,000, depending on scope and whether you offshore). And these costs are compounded if you need ad-hoc emergency support or bug fixes — especially if you need to source a developer who didn’t build it originally.
If you want to minimize risk, improve stability, and get access to reliable support that doesn’t cost a fortune, we think you’re better off using a specialist integrator (like Accumula), which we’ll explain more in the next section.
Our Magento POS integration (for Heartland and Lightspeed) has been developed in collaboration with multi-channel retailers who are doing millions of dollars every year through our solution. It’s stable, secure, and most importantly — well-supported.
2. Using Accumula to Integrate Your Magento and POS
Accumula is a headless inventory and order management system, which sits in the middle of your Magento platform and your POS. Our solution distributes truth between your various back-end systems, meaning you can manage inventory, publish products, and process orders in whichever system you prefer — while Accumula automatically reconciles your data.
This is in contrast to typical inventory management solutions (IMSs) that act as a single source of truth, forcing inventory-related tasks to be performed in that one piece of software. And IMS often gives you great visibility, but doesn’t provide that same visibility to your other teams, like the people on the frontlines in Brick and Mortar stores.
Here are a few unique benefits of using Accumula for your Magento POS integration:
- Your teams can keep using the software they’re used to (e.g. the POS for the in-store team and Magento for the eCommerce team), knowing that inventory, order, and product data is correct in that system. They don’t need to learn new software to manage inventory. If a new product is created in the POS, it can be easily published to Magento and inventory kept in sync. Orders, returns, and customers flow between systems.
- Accumula is built almost exclusively using the Magento API (apart from two critical fields that are missing from the API). The advantage is that the Magento API follows all of Magento’s business processes, which means it’s more stable, and has better support and documentation than custom solutions — which often take shortcuts to access your Magento database directly.
- We offer dedicated support within the context of your entire stack by experts who know Magento and your POS. When you contact Accumula for support, our first priority is to identify the source of your issue — whether that is data integration, server-side, or workflow. We also help you steer your migrations and launches as part of our service, helping your team tackle the devil in the detail and making sure you don’t suffer any costly downtime.
- Many Magento integrators rely on scheduled or triggered “jobs” to upload or download data. But Accumula runs continuously in the background, automatically syncing data around as quickly as the APIs can interface. And because Accumula doesn’t touch the database directly, you don’t need to worry about performance issues or the data corruption that can occur if you’re using a custom solution.
Other benefits of using Accumula to connect your Magento and POS include:
- You can manage products in your POS and publish complete info to Magento, and you can hold back safety stock to prevent oversales. You can incorporate sale pricing, and use special features like “hidden” and “always in stock” for easy merchandising.
- You can deliver a truly omnichannel customer experience, with services such as ship-from store, BOPIS, BORIS, curbside pickup, find-in-store display, and gift cards, with full visibility for your channel teams.
- You can manage financials and returns effectively between your online and physical stores, and get visibility on discounts, exchanges, order adjustments, and cancelations.
- You can relax knowing that if something does go wrong, the Accumula team has a deep understanding of how and where it can go wrong, so you can get back on track ASAP.
Accumula also supports multiple Magento websites containing different inventory, meaning you can publish products and maintain data integrity for various different eCommerce operations at once (for example, wholesale, clearance, and international selling).
Real-World Retailers Using Accumula’s Magento POS Integration
Accumula is one of the few Magento integrators to offer deep integrations into point of sale and to be experts in the point of sale platforms they support. In fact, most Magento integrations are only focused on eCommerce, and are blind to other critical parts of a retail business.
With Accumula, you can make sure that all your operations — in-store, online, and warehouse — are integrated to give customers more product availability, flexibility in purchase and fulfillment, and a consistently great experience when they buy from you.
For example, Australian pop culture department store, Popcultcha, uses Accumula to publish a high volume of products from their POS and then download and fulfill orders and backorders. Their POS operates as their back-office and POS, supporting high volume release events and special orders.
When Popcultcha were running a huge sale recently, a shopper inadvertently entered a hidden special character in their address, causing the Magento API to crash — so the Accumula team was able to identify the offending order and move past it to restart their operations.
Another client, Purl Soho, sells high-quality supplies for sewing, knitting, crocheting & embroidery. With a sizable eCommerce business, but no dedicated warehouse, they’re able to manage and fulfill both online and in-store orders from a single inventory. And BOPIS orders from their dedicated customers are easier to manage.
When Purl Soho started experiencing server timeouts in Magento for some orders, Accumula was able to help identify possible causes, rule out the integration and staff workflows, and keep them running as their developer resolved the issue on the server.
These two brands use Accumula to integrate their physical locations with their eCommerce operations, giving customers the experience they have come to expect from major retailers while simplifying the work of their staff.
3. Magento POS Extensions (Plugins)
Magento POS Extensions don’t give you the full functionality of a POS. They simply offer an extension of your online store — an interface for your tablet or laptop, which allows you to sell products in your store using Magento as the back-end.
Essentially, these tools run directly on your Magento server, and that means more load on your server, thereby straining resources. That extra load can impact the online shopping experience, which may require a server upgrade.
Just as important, POS extensions usually don’t provide inventory management capabilities (Purchase Orders, Transfer Orders, adjustments, reporting, permissions) and have little to no product support. While not all POS extensions are equal, due to the server impacts and limitations, they are also not a substitute for a proper point of sale like Lightspeed.
Final Thoughts: How to Integrate Your Magento and POS System
The biggest retailers have set the standards for omnichannel customer experience, and mid-market merchants need to integrate their tech stack across online and offline platforms to meet these new expectations.
If you’re running a Magento store, any type of integration is fraught with potential pitfalls, excessive costs, and risk to your business. With this in mind, you’ll be looking for a stable solution that comes with reliable support as part of the package.
Accumula’s Magento (Magento 2) POS integration for Heartland Retail and Lightspeed Retail provides peace of mind while opening up exciting new ways to drive sales and improve customer service. Our solution is proven as stable and scalable for retailers handling millions of dollars of eCommerce transactions while managing inventory across multiple stores.
If you want to synchronize inventory and orders across your POS and your Magento store, book a free demo with Accumula today. We’ll guide you through the whole process.