In today’s omnichannel retail environment, it is becoming more and more challenging for IT executives to integrate new platforms like e-commerce, real-time inventory, and mobile clienteling, with their legacy POS.

Over time, as more systems like EMV, e-receipts and private label credit cards are added to this mix, the threads that hold all these disparate systems together so they can communicate with each other start to look like one big tangled ball of twine.

The more systems that are added, the more difficult it becomes to untangle that twine to discover where all the communication links exist, and eventually, it seems like a “rip and replace” to start fresh is the only viable option.

But rip and replace is a costly option that is fraught with risk.

A better solution for retail IT executives to untangle their current architecture is to systematically get rid of all the direct connections and replace them with a plug-and-play interface.

You can achieve this by creating an independent module and configuration file for each of your disparate systems. Instead of making direct connections between each of these system modules, a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) middleware layer is used to facilitate communication.

For example, let’s say you already have stand-alone loyalty systems for each of your POS and ecommerce systems. You decide that the ecommerce loyalty system should become the common back end. Now you need to set that up and migrate your POS over to it.

You would start with an impact assessment to identify all places within your IT architecture that your loyalty program touches. You want to discover how the data flows: where it comes from and where it goes, and what end points need to be replaced.

  • Once the end points have been identified, you would disconnect your POS loyalty system from your POS.
  • Next you would turn your POS into an independent module by creating a configuration file that has on/off capability for each input and output point that handles the data flow for your loyalty system.
  • You would then make your ecommerce loyalty system a separate module with its own configuration file to control input and output points that will be needed to handle data flow to the POS module.
  • Then you’d install a middleware layer to be the communication vehicle between these two configuration files.
  • The final step would be to turn on all of the data pathways in each of the two configuration files: from the POS to the loyalty system, and from the loyalty system to the POS.

A key advantage of this elegant modular approach to integration is that there is no hardcoding that ties the original system to the rest of your IT architecture. Any given system module can be eliminated or swapped out at any time without disrupting the rest of your IT architecture.

If this modular approach is also used to replace your other systems, and add new systems as they are needed, sooner or later your tangled ball of twine will become a neatly organized set of boxes. You will no longer be restricted by what your “hardwired” system would permit. Instead you will be free to choose the solutions going forward that best suit the needs of your business.

RedIron makes this kind of modular solution a reality for large and mid-size retailers via a proprietary SOA platform we call RI Broker.

To learn more about how RI Broker can simplify complex omnichannel integrations, we invite you to download a complimentary copy of our whitepaper, “Plug-And-Play Integration For Retail IT”, by clicking here.

RI Broker White Paper Download