May 26, 2016
eCommerce Experts, Donogh Roche and Jim Morrison, Discuss with Retail Realm the Challenges and Benefits of Fully Integrated Webstores
As terms like omnichannel, eCommerce, retail and point-of-sale increasingly become more synonymous with seamless customer shopping experiences, retailers are looking for complete end-to-end solutions that integrate their webstore with their brick-and-mortar stores -- without having to manage multiple databases. And while retailers are realizing the benefits of integration, some are questioning its perceived challenges and limitations.
It's why Retail Realm sat down with NitroSell's CEO, Jim Morrison, and President & CTO, Donogh Roche, to get their thoughts on what retailers are wanting in a retail management eCommerce integration, the related challenges and solutions, and advice on setting up successful webstores. Combined, Jim and Donogh have over 30 years' experience in delivering market-leading eCommerce software solutions and services, including those for Microsoft Dynamics RMS, for retailers around the world.
RETAIL REALM: With more than a decade of experience helping small to large-sized retailers successfully build e-commerce sites to work with their point-of-sale systems, we're sure NitroSell has had its fair share of questions from retailers. What is one of the questions you're most frequently asked?
ROCHE: "Can you connect my point-of-sale to my webstore?" This was the original question that was the genesis of NitroSell. Our founders were point-of-sale resellers themselves, and, back in 2002, had retailers who were running clunky, non-integrated eCommerce solutions. To save them time and money, the obvious solution for us was to build an integrated solution that connects to their POS and keeps everything in sync, ensuring "one version of the truth." As the first provider in the small retail market offering an integrated solution, we were ahead of the curve by 7 or 8 years, and we continue to hear this question today. Many retailers still use disconnected eCommerce platforms, missing out on a true multi-channel eCommerce platform that makes their lives easier, and ensuring that what they have online is actually what they have in-store.
MORRISON: We're also always asked, "Can you help me keep my inventory online matched with my inventory in store?" A few years ago the questions were more general, but as almost all retailers have realized the need to be online and have tried it down various paths, they have realized that integration, especially for small retailers who can't afford a web team, is the key. Without it, they are trying to manage two databases, two customer lists, reentering orders in their POS to capture information, etc. and that is more than they can do. Maintaining one database of all your information is hard enough so integration is what the experienced ones are looking for.
RETAIL REALM: What is the biggest challenge that businesses -- specifically smaller retailers -- face when it comes to integration?
ROCHE: eCommerce is a very fragmented market: there are a lot of small players who try to do everything a retailer asks for, and there are also a lot of big players who offer a completely generic, POS-disconnected platform. This results in two typical outcomes: a built-once-and-forgotten solution, stitched together by a small team of web developers, with a shallow POS integration and a difficult-to-maintain webstore; OR, a generic eCommerce site that either half works with their POS or doesn't at all. The challenge, then, is in finding a provider who can tailor their offering to your needs, while providing the same kind of stable, well-maintained platform that you typically get from the largest non-integrated providers. We're talking weekly software and bug fixes, deployed automatically; new major features released every month, based specifically on the needs of small retailers and a tight-knit integration tailored specifically for their point-of-sale, with built-in order fulfillment, multi-channel sales reporting, and best-in-class synchronization.
MORRISON: It's why a lot of small and big retailers rely on our team who has been working with POS systems for several years and knows what it takes to create the kind of integration they actually need and will use. They really trust our experience.
RETAIL REALM: What are some common misconceptions that retailers have about integrating their databases?
MORRISON: Most retailers are daunted by the initial work it might take to integrate their databases. Usually there's a lot of extra information they're using online that is not in the POS database. Many retailers fear that it would be "too much work" to get that information where it needs to be. Yes, the initial workload can be high, but the rewards of doing it going forward FAR outweigh not doing it.
ROCHE: Some retailers also think they can run an effective eCommerce presence without the integration. We very often see an established business jumping into eCommerce, or a new business starting out, that doesn't think it necessary to connect their POS to the webstore. They get a shiny new web site and then start selling and quickly realize they can't fulfill orders because the inventory counts aren't accurate; or they can't combine in-store and online promotions easily because they have to be set up separately on both channels; or they can't do true loyalty because in-store loyalty doesn't communicate with online loyalty. That's when they look for an integrated solution and have to largely abandon their existing eCommerce investment.
RETAIL REALM: As a global company and industry leader, you have worked with top retailers around the world and a lot of different retail management and POS solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics RMS and Microsoft Dynamics POS 2009. For small to medium-sized retailers, what are some of the key benefits they have experienced due to an integrated database?
ROCHE: Microsoft Dynamics RMS and POS 2009 are among the most successful point-of-sale systems ever brought to market and, with good reason, are still in use by tens of thousands of retailers. They're robust, fault-tolerant point-of-sales, running on proven database technology (Microsoft SQL Server). RMS and POS 2009 were natural choices for us when we were starting out. With Retail Management Hero (RMH), we're seeing the next evolution of RMS and POS 2009, built on the same database technology, inheriting the tried and tested features and functionality, while adding even more to deliver a modern, exciting experience with all the latest features our retailers have been craving, including built-in loyalty and Accounts Receivable functionality.
MORRISON: To add an example to what Donogh just said, one of our customers in Australia was just featured in Internet Retailer and they have grown from a startup to over 30 million in sales in the last 5 years using Microsoft's RMS HQ and NitroSell. Even if you aren't trying to grow to that size that quickly, a good POS system, integrated properly with a webstore, will help you make better decisions and more money since your sales numbers, customer info, inventory information, and items are all synchronized between your shop and your webstore quickly and easily without extra man hours. As new POS systems come out with more features, like the new loyalty built into Retail Management Hero, you need an eCommerce system that can work with that as well, and that is something that we're excited about.
RETAIL REALM: If startups or retailers are looking to implement a new retail management system and want to integrate for e-commerce, what are the 5 things they should consider when choosing their webstore system?
- Ease of use -- Is it straightforward, can your clerks learn it in an hour or two?
- Reporting -- Can it tell you what you want to know, and can you create your own reports as well?
- Support -- What is the track record of the company behind it?
- Retail features -- Does if offer everything the modern retailer needs, like all payment types, inventory tracking, loyalty, all types of items (matrix, parent/child, etc.), tracking accounts and receivables, etc.? This is something, by the way, that Retail Management Hero has made sure to include.
- Integrated eCommerce (of course!) -- Without it, it is much more difficult to survive since we've found that up to 80% of shoppers preview items online before buying or walking into your store.
- A proven provider with a lengthy track record, including PCI-DSS Level 1 compliance for security assurance, and 99.9% uptime (audited by a third party)
- Responsive design that adapts seamlessly to whichever screen it's being used on: desktop, mobile or tablet
- The ability to sell on key marketplaces such as Google Shopping and Amazon
- A point-of-sale system that's as strong and modern as the eCommerce platform, e.g., Retail Management Hero, with an integrated shopping cart
- Value-added services like bespoke web design, a guided implementation process, training on best practices in SEO, and search engine marketing (SEM)
RETAIL REALM: What are you most excited about regarding the future of integrated webstores with retail management solutions?
ROCHE: With the release of RMH and the rise of true multi-channel and integrated eCommerce, NitroSell is best-placed to ensure that the retailer's store is front-and-center on the web. Get the features that large retail chains have been relying on for years, at a cost-effective price point and with the help and guidance to succeed online!
MORRISON: I've been working with brick and mortar retailers for over 15 years now and it's amazing what is possible for even a small boutique or mom-and-pop shop on a budget to do as far as offering their customers the same benefits and perks as any "big box" store while creating a shopping experience on a much more personal level both in-store and online. All of this is can now be done without the expense of a web team or designer on staff.
ABOUT NITROSELL: NitroSell is an award winning, global leader in providing integrated eCommerce solutions for brick and mortar retailers. NitroSell's mission is to make it easy for retailers to increase profits by serving new and existing customers online. NitroSell's innovative software allows retailers to have a webstore that keeps inventory counts, items, sales and customer information synchronized with their brick and mortar store. NitroSell's eCommerce solution integrates tightly into the retailer's existing in-store retail management system to deliver a robust, easy to manage, and captivating shopping cart experience. Visit https://www.nitrosell.com/or contact Jim Morrison, CEO, email@example.com.
ABOUT RETAIL REALM: Retail Realm is a multinational, retail-centric software development and distribution company, specialized in creating and managing a portfolio of vertical business software solutions that are marketed worldwide through a community of resellers. Retail Realm is a leading distributor of Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS), Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, "Retail Realm Essentials™ powered by Microsoft Dynamics", and Retail Management Hero™ (RMH). The company has also adopted additional add-ons and stand-alone products developed by leading companies that enhance or integrate with RMS and/or Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail. www.rrdisti.com. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about RMH, visit www.rmhpos.com.