Bridging the gap between physical retail and eCommerce is a challenge that many businesses face. Keeping your inventory, prices, and sales in sync can be a labor-intensive process. Chris Muench and his business, PHP Point of Sale, provide a robust and flexible solution to this problem with built-in WooCommerce Point of Sale integration. Read on to get the story behind PHP Point of Sale, and what Chris sees for the future of multi-channel selling.

The roots of PHP Point of Sale reach back to Chris’ high school days, when he belonged to a tennis club and helped the local pro shop keep their computers running. When the owners asked for his help in finding a new Point of Sale system, he couldn’t find anything that fit into the budget of a small business like theirs:

Everything I found was thousands of dollars. As I was just learning programming, I figured I would just make my own and if they liked it they could use it!”

Chris Muench, creator PHP Point of Sale, which offers built-in WooCommerce point of sale integration.
Chris Muench, creator PHP Point of Sale, which offers built-in WooCommerce point of sale integration.

The did like it, and used it up until they retired more than a decade later. Chris had identified a market that at the time was being ignored by the big Point of Sale vendors, back when Square or Clover referred to a shape and a plant.

In 2010 Chris decided to make a bet that this market was big enough to build a business on. He launched a product based on a new and improved evolution of his high school project.

Today PHP Point of Sale is used by over 2500 small businesses all over the globe. As his customer base grew he saw a need for an affordable yet powerful ecommerce platform that businesses could connect to PHP Point of Sale:

“We target small to medium sized retail businesses that don’t want to pay a lot for a POS, but want to get a great value…Many customers have requested [WooCommerce point of sale integration]. WordPress and WooCommerce are also both free so it was perfect for my customers.”

Chris was able to build his integration relatively quickly by using WooCommerce’s official API. An API (Application Program Interface) provides a predictable and well-documented way of integrating with a software platform, so you don’t have to figure it out through trial and error (if you can figure it out at all). WooCommerce’s API means that it’s straightforward to integrate your software with any site running WooCommerce. Of course, things are always a little more complicated in real life:

“The largest challenge [in implementing WooCommerce point of sale integration] has been the wide variety of ways that WordPress and WooCommerce are deployed. Many customers have tons of plugins and caching for performance which can sometimes cause configuration issues.”

Fortunately the open source code and collaborative community around WordPress + WooCommerce means that there is almost always a way to meet even the most outlandish customer requests.

Of course, WooCommerce isn’t the only game in town, and Chris kept getting requests to integrate with other platforms. So he took a page from WooCommerce’s book and wrote his own API:

“There are a lot of customers that want integrations with other smaller companies. This inspired us to create an API for PHP Point of Sale so this can be done without writing a custom integration for every system.”

After working with so many businesses, I asked Chris he things is the most important thing for businesses to keep in mind when they set up a POS system. His advice was to give yourself the time to get it right:

Give yourself at least 2 weeks to set up your POS system before you open your doors. If you wait until the last minute you won’t be trained and your inventory entered won’t be correct or as accurate as you want.”

Based on the trends he sees, Chris thinks that the future will only bring physical retail and eCommerce closer together:

“More and more POS systems will continue to be cloud based and all of them will either have their own eCommerce extension or integrate with an existing eCommerce platform. I also see online ordering for in-store pickup becoming more and more popular.”

Along with this, he sees the current trend of more cross-platform integrations leading to more and more services being connected to businesses’ Point of Sale systems:

“Beyond managing retail sales and inventory, your Point of Sale will become your business software for online sales, deliveries, pickups, Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and even accounting.”

And in a future where the ability to connect to other platforms is a crucial feature, platforms that provide full-featured APIs, and can be customized to connect to other APIs, will have the advantage. It’s an interconnected world, and PHP Point of Sale is living in it.

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