What is an integration?
An integration is where two softwares talk to each other.
The most obvious kind of integration is payment processing and EPOS software – which you’ll need unless you use the free EPOS software which comes with pay-as-you-go processors like iZettle. A payment integration means you can press the button on your EPOS software to cue the correct price on the card reader. Then, when the customer pays, the EPOS will be updated.
But there’s lots of other software verticals which you might consider integrating with your EPOS. This webpage will list a few examples, explain what they do, and how you might go about figuring out which to choose and setting up an integration!
Alternatively, you can always ask us directly!
Middleware versus Direct
Integrations are complex things to build, which require time and money from software companies. Therefore, while integrations are sometimes free, they sometimes require buying separately.
It could be that you choose a direct integration, which is built by one of the two software companies involved. That might be free or come for a discrete fee in addition to the price of the software. Or, you might choose to buy something called middleware, which will always need to be paid for separately. This is a kind of integration; but instead of software companies A and B speaking directly to each other, they do it via a translator, software C. If information about the source code of companies A and B is publicly available, anybody could build software C. If you want it enough, it’s even possible to commission it. (If you’re interested, it’s best to ask about that over the phone).
Middleware has a reputation for being inferior to a direct integration, because there’s lower barriers to building middleware – meaning that sometimes, amateurish software developers will attempt an integration which doesn’t work as well as hoped. That said, there’s nothing wrong with middleware which works properly and has been made by good developers. We’d recommend taking advice on what software houses are reputable and have build middleware which works.
It’s super easy to find out what direct or “official” integrations are available – software houses will usually list all the partners they have on their website.
Payment Processing Integration – Pay-As-You-Go
There are only a handful of pay-as-you-go payment providers operating in the UK; although we’d expect older providers to start coming out with copycat products in the same vein. The originals are: iZettle, Square, Sum Up, and PayPal Here.
These are really software companies (as opposed to contract payment providers, which are banks). They know it’s important for their marketing, so they have built a lot of direct integrations themselves. For legal reasons, there’s no middleware available here.
Choosing a pay-as-you-go provider
First, choose your EPOS software. We have a full list of integrations possible on the software you can get through our website on this page – see which pay-as-you-go provider suits.
Then, be sure to call StoreKit and ask for a discounted card reader for the cheapest one. Read our advice about choosing between providers here. But here’s a table showing what integrations are available through StoreKit.
Payment Processing Integration – Contract Provider
If you have a contract provider, such as worldpay, integrating your payment and your EPOS system is more complex than other integrations. This is because payment contract companies are banks with low technology competency; and because payments are a highly regulated industry.
Middleware between the software which runs on contract payment processing terminals and your EPOS system is called a payment application.
There are three parties involved in a payment application. The first is your payment providers sometimes called an acquirer (e.g. worldpay). Their involvement is purely legal. They need to have given the thumbs up to the lawmakers that the payment application runs according to their legal standards.
The second party is the EPOS software provider. They need to confirm that the payment application will work with their software. (Unfortunately, the third party can often mislead on this front – so it’s always worth checking with the EPOS software house that everything is going to work before signing a contract.)
The third party is any third party which has done the real work here – and built a payment application. This could be a payment software company, like payzone. Payzone is not a contract provider, but writes software which allows the EPOS software and the payment card terminal to talk to each other. This could be a card reader manufacturer, like ingenico. Different card reader manufacturers will have some applications available for individual contract payment providers.
The third is a type of company called an ISO, such as PaymentSense. An ISO (which stands for “independent sales organisation”) is a middle-man which onboards customers for contract payment providers, sometimes in exchange for better rates.
Choosing a contract payment provider
We’d recommend you run a bidding process between your contract payment providers including ISOs. Read our full advice here – or talk to a payments expert who can offer a quote and advice on how to get quotes from other providers. Ask StoreKit, or your EPOS provider, what contract payment providers will be possible to choose an integration through.
E-commerce Software Integration
E-commerce platforms are the platforms on which you buy and sell products online.
An integration for e-commerce might mean that both software aggregate the reporting functions – you can compare what’s selling online and in-store on a single dashboard. It certainly means that both software will pull from the same inventory figures – so you don’t sell the last item twice.
Some EPOS softwares – typically aimed at retail – produce their own e-commerce software, such as airpos. Airpos online and airpos in-store come ready-integrated; so if you choose one of these, you wouldn’t have to worry about an integration. Similarly, some e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, have produced POS software which comes ready-integrated. Shopify POS is usable and comes with a limited range of features – we’d recommend them if your main focus is online.
Alternatively, there’s lots of e-commerce integrations available for most of the EPOS we sell on this site. (There’s both direct and middleware integrations here).
Choosing e-commerce software
When choosing between e-commerce software, the first decision you have to make is about whether to choose open-source or hosted software.
If you’re thinking “I’m no good at software, and I want something I can set up for my store personally, which lets me sell things” – you’re likely to want hosted software. In exchange for more expensive pricing, this is designed to be easy to build and to simplify the process of setting up your online store.
If you don’t want to be tied to a provider like Shopify, and you want the freedom to change your website, you’re likely to want to choose open source software. This is usually free, with some paid-for optional extras, but has some DIY components which you might require that you hire a developer. If you’re a bigger operation, this is what we’d expect you to choose.
Read our advice on e-commerce payments here.
Examples of E-commerce software
Accounting Software Integration
Two accounting softwares dominate the market: Xero, and Quickbooks. Usually an EPOS software will have partnered with one but not the other of these. Our advice is that EPOS is more important than the differences between these two – so choose your EPOS, investigate which one they’ve integrated with, and choose that accounting software as yours.
An integration with accounting software means that your balance sheet is always up-to-date.
Takeaway Systems Integration
There’s two kinds of takeaway system. The first is online ordering systems. This is when you sell takeaways directly from your website and you need a system capable. The second is takeaway platforms like Just Eat and Deliveroo.
We’ve published a longer article on how to integrate your EPOS with your delivery platform / online ordering system.
Or, if you need advice on choosing between delivery platforms, try our blog.
Online Ordering Systems
The Open Dining Network
Wholesale/Warehouse Management/Logistics Software Integration
Inventory Management is something which comes with mid-to-top EPOS systems. The bottom end won’t expect you’ll need it; the middle range will provide limited inventory management which is nonetheless a key reason to get EPOS. Often, the very top range expect you’ll integrate with discrete software, so inventory management never becomes very complex in EPOS, even when your system is designed for a large inventory.
A good clue for when to upgrade to discrete software is that you’re starting to draw in logistics and warehouse components into your business needs – and you’re frustrated they aren’t provided for by your EPOS. Discrete systems will either be characterised as inventory management, warehouse management, wholesaler/supplier management, or logistics management depending on where the emphasis falls for their key market.
Scheduling what goes where on what day in extremely complex inventories is the main bread-and-butter of these softwares.
The larger EPOS systems are likely to integrate with a range of inventory softwares.
Examples of Inventory Management Software
Service Scheduling Integration
Service Scheduling is something which is surprisingly uncommon as being native to EPOS apps. It refers to scheduling a service – such as a training session, or a salon appointment, in which the product is an indviduals’ time. MIND BODY is an example of an EPOS which is built around service scheduling; it’s explicitly designed for gym and beauty businesses.
Otherwise, look for an EPOS system which can integrate with discrete software. Here are some examples of service scheduling providers.
Examples of Service Scheduling Software
Staff Management / Employee Scheduling Integration
Often, service scheduling components might come as a broader package which are focused on employee scheduling; how to arrange your employees’ time. Staff Management is a component of most POS systems, which boast permissions’ structures and clock-in/clock-out features to ensure staff are paid the correct amount.
But there’s some things which an EPOS cannot do. The features which start with calendar components, and enable features like shift-trading, are the point at which you need discrete HR software.
Analytics and Information Aggregators Integration
EPOS comes with reporting. There’s three categories of reporting software out there: the first is something you could reasonably describe as middleware – software which is designed to put all your information from all your software into a single screen. It integrates with lots of different kinds of software and puts your information all in one place.
Then, other software will pull data from somewhere else. Tenzo examines the weather and recommends that you employ fewer staff on days forecast to be rainy. ServMetric is designed for collecting and incorporating customer feedback into your business. An integration is essential, here.
Marketing/Loyalty Software Integration
These are very various – there’s lots of ways software can be used for marketing in concert with EPOS marketing functions.
Some marketing is easier to do online than in-store. One popular software category is a CRM, which stands for customer relationship management; that’s a big database of all your different customers and the information you have about them. If there’s a big phone component to your business, you might want a staff member speaking to the customer for the first time to be able to swiftly access previous correspondence – so you could, e.g. get an email exchange up on the screen and see what the customer was emailing about immediately before they rang. An email automation platform is less muscular version of the same thing. It does what it says on the tin; and allows you to measure the success or failure of your outgoing email marketing. (This is less important to integrate, though).
Then, there’s some “loyalty card/account” software. A lot of marketing software relies on measuring your communications to specific customers and watching their behaviour. Loyalty/rewards schemes allow you to do that even when they’re in-store rather than online, because they’re incentivised to identify themselves to you via this discount.
Integration with your EPOS would involve tying a loyalty system to a CRM; for example, setting up a unique code which can access an in-store discount, in exchange for an email address to which you would then measure how successful you’d been.
PMS is “property management software”, used principally for room booking. Again, it would be possible to code “a room” as a product saleable through a POS and manually tot up how many you had left; but PMS is the proper way to do it.
Rental Software Integration
If one of your products is renting something out for the day, you might have unique requirements around rent. That might be to do with quality checks after each product is returned; or just the way in which bookings take place on the software.
Want to talk?
We’re in the business of giving out free advice about software and payment processing. If you have any question – no matter what it is – pick up the phone and give us a call.