Need a robust point of sale system for your store? Considering a Cloud-based POS but worried about security or how it will work with your other retail systems? Read on to find out why security and integrations are the big two benefits of Cloud POS and how they can support your retail business.
Whether you are opening a business for the very first time, or if you are thinking about changing your current POS provider, you may be confused about the choices available to you. Conventional POS systems have transformed over the last decade, with technology making them more flexible and better able to support your growing business than ever before. One of the greatest developments in the world of POS is the use of cloud-based technology.
If you haven’t come across cloud-based technology before, it is understandable that you may be apprehensive. Many people think that a solution that involves technology may be more complicated, and may not have the same capabilities as a traditional in-store POS. However, providers of Cloud-based point of sale systems have worked extremely hard to ensure that their solutions are not only extremely user-friendly, but also provides greater mobility and flexibility to your business, giving you all of the functions seen in a regular POS, and a whole lot more too!
While there are enough advantages to choosing Cloud-based POS systems to fill a book, in this article we are going to explore two of the biggest benefits: security and integrations.
A Cloud-based POS offers your business the enhanced security that you need, giving you peace of mind
For many businesses, the idea of placing their data in a virtual space where they can’t physically see it and need to rely on someone else to keep it secure is disconcerting. Nevertheless, experts agree that Cloud-based POS systems can actually provide a greater level of security than a locally-hosted solution. To appreciate how, we first need to understand how a cloud-server works.
What is a Cloud Server?
A Cloud Server is essentially a virtual server, that is run on a physical server in an off-site location. Each physical server used in cloud-hosting can actually support dozens of virtual servers, and the physical hardware performing this function will be located in an enterprise-grade data center.
Why is data center security important?
When you have a conventional Windows-based POS, the data is stored on your servers on your business premises. While it may seem much more convenient to have this information on site, the location does present a number of potential security hazards in terms of physical access to your servers.
The data centers used in cloud-based solutions are purpose-built, designed specifically to keep your data, and those of others using the same cloud-based POS as you, completely safe and secure, while still making it accessible to you 24/7. To achieve this, these data centers are built with security that wouldn’t look out of place in The White House. Think multi-level biometric checks, state of the art electronic monitoring and constant security patrols and you are coming close. Compared to the type of security that your business premises can offer your servers, which is typically locked and pin-coded doors or similar, it suddenly becomes much easier to appreciate the depths to which your data is protected when you choose to store it in the Cloud.
Another prime concern of any business is their network security. This means having complete control over who can access their network, virtually as well as physically. Cloud vendors take this responsibility extremely seriously as their reputation for security can make or break their success.
To ensure that they provide the highest level of network security possible, Cloud vendors invest heavily in the skilled and talented staff and cutting-edge technology needed to establish outstanding network security.
The cost of cloud-based security
One of the concerns of business owners when they are confronted with the idea of a Cloud-based POS is that it is going to be much more expensive than a traditional Windows-based version.
While no secure system is going to come cheap, traditional POS systems come with many additional costs such as hardware, installation, proprietary hardware, licensing fees, support packages… the list goes on. Once you have the relevant equipment in place, you will need to invest in both physical and network security to keep your data safe.
Ultimately, the IT departments of most businesses simply can’t afford to offer the same level of security as a Cloud vendor. It is just too expensive. However, because most physical Cloud servers are shared among many businesses, the Cloud Vendor can afford to create the infrastructure and environment that offers an affordable and effective security solution for small and mid-sized businesses.
The benefits of integration
Running a business means juggling many different processes and systems, from sales and inventory control to a CRM and loyalty program. However, we live in an integrated world where customers expect a consistent journey from start to finish across whatever sales channel they choose to use – what is known as an omnichannel experience. Integration between these systems and your POS opens up capabilities both in the operations and management sides of your business, allowing you to be more flexible and efficient than ever before.
The trap of siloed systems
When the different systems used by a company are siloed, it can make it difficult for the business to operate effectively and successfully, and impossible to provide the customers with the omnichannel experience that they demand.
Businesses today need to make data-driven decisions about everything – including what to sell, what price to sell at, who to market to and how to market most effectively. However, this can be very difficult to do if the data that you receive is also siloed. Formats may vary, it may be difficult to pull up comparisons or see how the data from one channel relates to data from another. Whatever problems you are having, siloed data is significantly harder to read and interpret, and to use to the benefit of your company.
Integrated systems solve data problems
Most Cloud POS solutions offer businesses the opportunity to take advantage of big data and embrace a variety of comprehensive and efficient marketing tools through Marketing POS integrations. In its most basic form, a POS marketing integration can automatically create customer records in your marketing system, saving your staff time and reducing the risk of manual error.
However, there are much more advanced integrations available, such as those that offer the ability to record customer purchase history, amount spent, purchase frequency, and even custom fields that allow your business to gain even further insight into your customer.
This information can then be used to create highly personalised and targeted marketing campaigns. For example, by sending a promotion only to customers who have spent a certain amount, or who have purchased a specific product. Our Cloud POS, Hike, integrates fully with MailChimp marketing software, giving our customers the benefits of these tools and more besides.
Integrated systems can streamline your Ecommerce presence
In the 21st Century retail never sleeps, and thanks to the convenience of online shopping, it is now possible for customers to place orders around the clock. While integrations between a POS solution and an online shop can take many forms, one of the most important components is inventory synchronisation. You need to be sure that what you are selling online is actually what you have in stock and failing to do so can lead to a lot of disgruntled customers.
By integrating inventory management with your Cloud-based POS, you can benefit from real-time stock updates which gives you greater control over your orders. You can see when stock is getting low and (market it accordingly seeing as it could encourage more impulse sales), and you can set up alerts to remind you to re-order. You can also ensure that you don’t sell items that you don’t have and be stuck issuing refunds. Many Ecommerce integrations also enable you to connect your store with your loyalty program, allow your customers to purchase gift cards and function across multiple physical stores as well as your online platform.
Not only do Ecommerce integrations make your operation more efficient, but it will also enable you to offer your customers a better retail experience with your business. When you choose Hike for your Cloud POS solution, you have the added benefit of choosing from three different Ecommerce integrations, including Shopify, Bigcommerce and Woocommerce.
Accounting integrations can help your numbers to stack up
Ultimately you want all of your business efforts to add up to one thing – more sales. By integrating your preferred accounting system with your Cloud-based POS, you can take advantage of much more streamlined reports that are produced easily and without the need for you or your staff pouring over figures. These can provide you with a much better overview of the performance of your business. Equally, these integrations can be used to communicate open invoices, purchase orders and inventory data, making it much simpler to place orders with suppliers, pay and/or pay outstanding invoices, and even pay your staff.
For many business owners, accounting is one of the biggest challenges they face with siloed systems, and so integration is a welcome way to relieve the pressure.
Xero and Quickbooks online are two popular accounting solutions that can integrate wholly with Hike. This guarantees our customers the benefits of a robust Cloud-based POS and full accounting capabilities.
Tough security and full high-quality integrations are two big benefits of choosing a Cloud point of sale system like Hike. To find out more about our popular retail platform, or to discover more about the benefits of taking your business to the Cloud, please contact our team who would be delighted to help you.