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I have been working with many merchants recently who would like to integrate their Point of Sale (POS) or accounting systems with their eCommerce site.  This is the holy grail for multi-channel or high volume merchants but in almost every case we discover that they are not ready. 

There are are 4 main goals that the merchants hope to achieve by integrating their accounting and other systems with their eCommerce site:

1) Ease of building the catalog

2) Inventory updates

3) Price updates

4) Avoid duplicate data entry

POS and accounting systems are controlled systems designed to be used by experts.  Products are identified by a product code or SKU and assigned a price and an inventory quantity, all of which is also used in the eCommerce system.  That is where the similarity usually ends though.

We need LOTS of information to help you sell your products online.

Product Name: This is usually in the POS system but due to database restrictions it is frequently limited to 40 characters.  That is not a big problem usually, but since these are expert systems the Product Name field is frequently full of bad data

  • Spelling errors.  Not a big deal when only your accountant and store clerk sees it.
  • Abbreviations.  Sure, you know what it means but your web shoppers won't.
  • Notes or additional details.  Merchants compensate for other limitations in their POS by adding information to the product name

Browser Title: Sure this can be your Product Name but you might want to do some SEO tweaks for better visibility.

Department: Most store systems don't have deep product categorization.  Your ecommerce site will have department hierarchies and items can appear in multiple departments.  We seldom see a POS system that has all of this.

Search Engine Description: Why would this be in your POS system?

Product Description: Again, if you are using your POS system to scan UPC's and produce receipts, how likely are you to use a Product Description field even if it exists

Cross Sales. 

I could go on, but you should be able to see the issues.  We usually work with merchants to get an initial catalog data from their POS system into a spreadsheet where they can edit it and get it ready for public viewing.  It takes a while so plan ahead.
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