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Building a Better Mousetrap

History

Modern Retail has been designing and building websites since early 1998. We started integrating with a store's point of sale (POS) system in early 2006 out of necessity; soon our clients started demanding it. Six months later, we added a second integration, and then a third and so forth. Back then, these integrations connected a store's POS system to HipCommerce, our own e-commerce platform.  We steadily added POS systems, reaching 10 systems by the summer of 2010.

At this time, another trend was sweeping the Internet – the rise of e-commerce platforms such as Magento and Shopify.  Retailer were flocking to these platforms but desperately needed a way to seamlessly integrate their POS systems.

During a company retreat in Chicago, we determined we had to reinvent our POS integrations along with our company.  We wanted to do something no one else had done before – make it easy and cost effective for retailers to connect their POS system to their website.

New Approach

To make this vision come to fruition, we needed to come up with an entirely new approach to these integrations.  We decided to create a layer of technology between the POS system and the e-commerce platform which we called our Integration Middleware.  Adding this technology greatly simplified our integrations because it required only one integration with the POS software and one integration with the e-commerce platform.  This approach made these integrations far easier because it allowed any POS system to connect to any e-commerce platform.  Once one connection was done, the point of sale system could immediately be connected to all other platforms.

Simplicity

The main benefit of Modern Retail's integration approach is simplicity. POS systems and e-commerce platforms are constantly changing and being upgraded.  Keeping up with these changes, while also trying to add new systems, was a nightmare with our old approach.  Not anymore. When someone makes a change, we upgrade our Integration Middleware and everyone immediately gets it.  Adding new POS or ERP systems is much easier because we only have to do it once.  On the flip side, adding and keeping up to date with the ever-changing e-commerce platforms has also gotten easier because, again, we only need to do it once in our Integration Middleware.  This has allowed Modern Retail to grow to support over 2 dozen POS and ERP systems that can be integrated with four different e-commerce platforms:  Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce.

Benefits

Our approach has some amazing benefits for our clients and distinguishes us from other companies. Here are just a few of the benefits of our integrations and magic of our middleware:

  • Allocation - Allocation helps retailers from overselling products on their website and marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, by accounting for inventory that is sitting in orders placed but not yet shipped.  Read More.
  • Difference Engine - Our Middleware analyzes all product data coming from the POS or ERP system to make sure it is "different" from the last time we received an update.  If there's no difference in the data, then there's no need to update your website with unneeded calls.  Read More.
  • Outages & Automatic Recovery - Let's face it no one likes outages but unfortunately they do occur.  They can occur with your website, inventory system or do I dare say it, Modern Retail.  The question is how does the service handle these outages?  Ours automatically recovers, synchronizing the data where it left off before the outage.  Read More.
  • Customer Management - For many of our integrations, we're able to offer superior customer management by managing the customer's identity in our Integration Middleware. This allows users to change their email address but still matched up corrected to their user record in the POS or ERP system. Read More.
  • Special Cases - We are able to handle special cases in our Middleware that, frankly, could not be accomplished without it.  For example, for many of our Magento clients, we map various colors coming out of the POS system to a single color attribute in Magento.  Not only does this simplify the data being added to Magento but also allows retailers to offer "shop by color" on their website and makes participating in marketplaces, such as Amazon and Google, easier.
  • Reduce Load - Our Integration Middleware takes on much of the load, freeing up your website to work on more rewarding tasks like displaying products and helping you fulfill orders.
  • Upgrades - Having a single integration with both the POS/ERP system and website makes upgrades far easier and quicker.
  • Support - Everyone benefits when systems are easier to support.  Not only is it less-costly for Modern Retail to support our integrations, but we can also offer superior support because of our simplified infrastructure.

There are many other benefits, and collectively, we believe we have built something truly extraordinary for our clients.

Future

Modern Retail is going to continue to add POS and ERP systems to our ecosystem, but we don’t see ourselves stopping there. Retailers, manufacturers and distributors are also struggling to integrate with other software such as loyalty, gift cards, gift registries, customer relationship management, and a variety of other systems.  Everyone is striving to create an omni-channel experience for their customers, and Modern Retail believes we can help our customers achieve this vision.

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