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Commitment counts.

This is both an exciting and terrifying time to be a small to medium sized business. The opportunities for growth are many but the competition is fierce. Success lies in a balance between offering a quality product or service, creating a positive customer experience, generating a strong loyalty base and using business resources efficiently and effectively.
 
As a Point of Sale provider, merchants depend greatly on the partnerships and integrations you bring to their businesses. With countless tools and services out there, merchants trust their Point of Sale and resellers to provide them the best options for generating the greatest success. If that trust is betrayed, merchants will not hesitate to move on to someone else.
 
According to The Point of Sale Software Systems User Research Report, “88% of companies have had their software for less than 5 years.” When broken down this actually becomes even more dramatic. It turns out that larger companies stick with their POS software for about 2-5 years, whereas smaller businesses only average about 1-2 years. This reflects a large number of new small to medium-sized businesses, but it also speaks to the ease with which smaller companies can switch as compared to larger ones.

The next obvious questions is, why do they switch? the study found that the most pressing reason for switching was that the previous POS didn’t have the right features. This came even before cost, indicating that POS integrations to relevant tools could be a crucial point in the success or failure of a POS/Merchant relationship.

It is more important than ever that the POS and associated resellers choose wisely when promoting any given integration.

As is often the case, simplicity prevails in this realm. Neither merchants nor resellers have the time and resources to wade through complicated and difficult integrations to numerous solutions. The point where efficiency meets effectiveness is the ideal state for all parties.

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing an appropriate integration.

1. Is the solution comprehensive?

There are two different ways to approach this topic.

a. One tool for one job (Example: A Reputation Management tool and another Automated Marketing tool) – The benefit to this option is that you often have a well-designed, highly functional tool. However it is important to remember that not all tools will function well together. If a merchant opts for the single-tool approach they will need to be aware that extra time may be required to manage multiple tools, and care will have to be taken when adding new tools to ensure they are compatible.

b. One tool for many jobs (Example: Reputation Management and Automated Marketing in one tool) – This option eliminates the concern of whether or not tools will be compatible. It can also save time since there is only one tool and one operating system to learn as opposed to multiple. The tool might not be as well honed as a single tool, but it often makes up for the deficiency in convenience and saved cost.

2. Are there white label options?

Once a POS has decided to outsource a tool rather than spend the effort and resources to build it themselves, there is the questions of whether or not to go with a white labeled option. Once again, there are a couple of approaches that can be taken here.

a. It could be beneficial to white label a solution and sell it to merchants as part of a comprehensive bundle. This gives merchants one bill to pay at the end of the month rather than facing the fee fatigue that they often find discouraging and off-putting. Additionally, it allows the reseller to be a superhero of sorts, offering solutions for every problem the merchant may face.

b. Conversely, we have heard some resellers mention that merchants wonder why their bill is so large for for the Point of Sale, not taking into consideration all of the features that come with it. By not absorbing all of the features, the reseller can protect themselves and their relationship with the merchant if a given tool is suddenly not desired or not working properly. It also creates a clearer delineation for the merchant of what exactly they are paying for.

3. Is the solution cloud-based or on-premise/installed?

Further data from the POS Software Systems User Research Report revealed that almost half of retailers (43%) prefer Web-based software, and that number is growing. Web-based tools offer significantly greater flexibility and agility for merchants who are looking to check data remotely and interact with software in ever-changing ways. This does not mean that the on-premise/installed solutions are going anywhere fast, but it’s important to consider the needs and preferences of the merchants a POS serves.

4. Does the solution offer significant revenue opportunities?

The value of any integration lies in its ability to offer tremendous value to merchants while bringing in significant incremental revenue for developers and resellers. The tool must be comprehensive, simple, seamless and have a business structure that benefits both the merchant and the reseller. It seems like common sense, but if the tool can’t bring in revenue then it’s not worth the effort for the merchant or the reseller.
 
All of these elements work together to create a complete marketing profile. As customers move seamlessly from one channel to another, generally on their mobile devices, they seek out content that resonates with and interests them, and they remain loyal to those companies who consistently provide. Give your merchants a step up by by offering an integrated customer data platform that will help them reach their customers in they right way, at the right time with the right message.

5. Does the solution truly add value for the merchant?

Again, the worth of any tool depends on its ability to bring added value for the merchant. If it is burdensome and difficult to use, or does not improve or simplify the merchant’s day-to-day operations then is the functionality worth the effort? It is important to consider what integrations a reseller will promote. An endorsement of a poor product could ruin a valuable merchant relationship.

*BONUS – Is there potential for added growth in the future?

Finally, even if the solution being offered is of substantial value, is simple to use and solves a real problem for the merchant, it is important to consider the future significance of the solution. Is there a plan for growth, continued improvement, responsiveness to market growth and change.
 
Point of Sale developers and resellers are in a powerful position when it comes to choosing which integrations and tools will best serve their merchants. This position comes with a great deal of responsibility, and in the end, the merchant relationship is on the line. Knowing which tools will best serve the POS and merchant for the long term is crucial to the success of all.

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