“For someone using a ‘general (non-size/colour) system’ like we used to, I’d certainly recommend that they move over to Top to Toe”
Mr Cricket (Sportswear)
“5 stars all round, great product and you couldn’t ask to speak to friendlier people.”
Eccleshall Saddlery (Equestrian)
“Even the new sales assistants can adapt to Top to Toe within minutes.”
Pie Clothing (Fashion)
“Top to Toe have greatly helped us manage & develop our stock system over the last few years. Their helpful & knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help.”
“Once the products are on Top to Toe, it’s very easy to then put those products onto a website.”
Angels Uniforms (Schoolwear)
“Friendly EPOS, insightful reporting facilities, seamless website integration and a friendly customer care & training team.”
“Cannot praise the technical team enough, whenever we have issues they are always on hand, efficient, quick and get the problem resolved quickly! Excellent service.”
Sheen Sports (Sportswear)
“We used to do stock management manually. Top to Toe came to make such a big difference to all of our staff.”
Uniform 4 Kids (Schoolwear)
“Top to Toe has a really easy way of spotting trends – I’m able to identify what sizes, colours and styles are selling best. It’s intuitive, anyone can use it”
Claudio Lugli (Fashion)
“Incredibly easy to use, saving me hours upon hours per week. It’s both transformed my business and my day-to-day tasks.”
Michael Leigh Menswear (Fashion)
“Top to Toe was a revelation – we run much more efficiently now. We couldn’t run our business in the current climate without it”
Burrs Shoes (Footwear)
“Within seconds you can find things incredibly quickly using Top to Toe’s filter. Previously, we were trawling through lines and lines of data”
Uniform 4 Kids (Schoolwear)
Benefits of the Integration
Take advantage of the many web sites that will sell for you. Increase your sales using the web as a strategic tool.
Integration saves hours per day and allows you to expand onto multiple sites
Automate Making Tax Digital
Minimise manual re-entry into your accounts system
Boost profitability as you sell on one or many web sites
Web sales integrated back into your stock system allow you to analyse what’s happening and order accordingly.
Instant switching between style level and its detailed size/colour matrix display
Understand what works and then sell selectively on different web sites
Keep stock levels accurate on all sites at all times.
Sync all data across shops/tills, websites (including Amazon and eBay), accounts and the warehouse so you know the data is always up to date.
Clothing and Footwear specific screens including instant size/colour matrix’s
Instant VAT analysis
Break through the glass ceiling limiting manual updating, especially with multiple sizes and colours per style
See the bigger picture – instead of seeing the shop as one entity and web sales as another, step back and see your business as a whole – across all selling channels!
Reduce manpower costs – integration maintains synchronised stock positions and finances for a fraction of the cost of doing it manually
What is Integration in EPOS Stock Management?
Integration simply means that one system can exchange data with another. Systems have ‘invisible’ internal integrations linking them all together so that they form one system, but the term mostly refers to two separate systems ‘talking’ to each other. For example, up to date stock information from an EPOS system moving automatically onto a web site; or sales information from an EPOS stock system moving into an accounts system. Certainly, market place web sites like Amazon and Ebay might be vital for you to use, but they are a completely separate entity to your stock system, accounts package and company web site.
This is important because its highly unlikely (probably impossible) that any single piece of software can provide all the functions your business needs. Stock management for clothing and footwear retailers/retailers is a speciality; accounts is another speciality; your company web site platform is another – no one system can be the ‘best of breed’ in all these separate areas. For example, your web site platform many be a brilliant way to create and run a company web site, but if it also offers some element of stock control then this is probably the ‘poor relation’ to the main platform; and certainly would be inadequate if you’re selling clothing or footwear.
In short: good integrations mean that all aspects of your retail business are linked and constantly communicating with each other, to make your business run smoother and save you time. In reality they do more than save time, they are performing tasks and delivering results that, from a practical perspective, would be completely impossible to achieve without them, For example, it may be possible to monitor your stock position and keep your web site and Amazon up to date for, say 10 clothing or footwear styles, but its normally impossible to do for 100 styles.
Are all integrations the same?
No, integrations are generally all different. The technology they use effects their efficiency and some suppliers will have standard integrations that pre-exist and so can be bought ‘off-the-shelf’. In most cases these will be the best and least expensive option, but if required it may be possible for a software supplier to create a link specially to meet an individual requirement. A number of our Top to Toe links started as a developed in response to one particular client but in the knowledge that other retailers would also benefit
It is also very important to note that, as with all aspects of stock control, some integrations are very comprehensive and others barely cover basic requirementFor example, one systems web link may auto create products on a web site while another systems may require manual product creation per site; one systems link may auto synchronise both stock and sales while another only does your stock positions; one system may provide courier integrations while another does not. These are just examples, there are many aspects of both web and accounts integration where considerations like this apply.
What elements do I need to integrate?
It’s the stock management EPOS system that is the hub around which everything revolves, since it’s the stock management EPOS system that feeds all the others. So check out the links a stock system has available – but if the functions and process of the stock system are not right for your business then you’ll never maximise your businesses potential, no matter how clever the links themselves. See below for just a few examples of elements you need to integrate:
Tills / Shops
Is the integration technology important?
Yes, the technology is important since it effects how efficiently and how frequently data is exchanged. To link also requires that both parties must have at least some provision for data exchange of stock positions, and ideally sales data as well. Where there is no provision of any sort then integration is just not possible. A good example of this is the lack of a detailed stock import into some popular, relatively low end, website platforms – it doesn’t matter how comprehensive the stock management links are, if the site does not have an import facility then it will just not accept the necessary data.
What kind of integrations are there and how do they work?
At one level the answer to this is that there could be many different pieces of software you may want to link to; but the two main types of EPOS stock system integration are with ecommerce web sites and accounting systems.
Given that every retailer has potentially many hundreds of different stock lines, and a clothing or footwear retailer will have many, many thousands of separate size and colour variants, tracking stock and sales manually is a massive challenge. Practically speaking, for the clothing and footwear retailer it’s an impossible job. The modern ecommerce world however demands still more!
Modern ecommerce requires that the stock position is calculated minute by minute (vital if you are using your shops stock to also sell on the web), that it is completely accurate and that it is fed through every few minutes to one or more web sites. So if just knowing your stock was a challenge, then feeding it every few minutes to a web site, or even every hour, is beyond normal humans – but completely possible for a good EPOS stock management system.
Accounting integrations allow financial data to flow between your EPOS and stock system. Different business however may need their integrations to behave differently. Certainly, it can be very useful to have high level data flowing from the EPOS system to your accounts package, but sometimes more detail is needed. The UK governments “Making Tax Digital” initiative means that it makes sense to send very detailed sales data to your accounts system and a good EPOS package will support this functionality so that, once configured, it flows almost seamlessly.
Integration – some important technicalities
At a more detailed technical level, however, the answer is a little more complex – since both web sites and accounts systems can each be linked to an EPOS system in a number of different ways.
The best integrations use API’s (an Application Program Interface) – these are similar to an agreed language where one system can ask selective questions and get answers from the other. For example, using an API, a web site may send a question to the stock system along the lines of “I have a customer who wants to see the stock position for a particular jacket so can you tell me the latest availability”, and the hub system responds with the up to date answer for that particular jacket. All this happens in the fraction of a second between the web customer clicking on the style and their screen changing to show them the items picture and up to date stock position.
There are alternatives to this selective/instantaneous approach. The most common alternative is the use of large data files that contain lots of data on lots of products – these generally use a format referred to as CSV (Comma Separated Values). These files are normally sent just a few times a day and so are not live. For example, if the CSV is sent every four hours then your system is completely up to date only every four hours. For businesses with slow moving stock positions this may be fine, for others very limiting – but CSV links are often cheaper and quicker to develop so they are certainly much better than no link at all. Usually its customer facing web sites that need speedy links while for accounts linkage once a day may be all that’s needed.
So for a customer facing web site using an API is best.In general, however, API’s are not a standard language that can be shared by all programs. Each software company/system may have its own API’s that follow the general rules but are designed differently to each other – in much the same way that English and French share the same alphabet but use it to build different words and sentences. So an integration to Amazon is a different programming exercise to an Ebay integration, which is different to an integration with Woo Commerce or Sage and Xero accounting packages.
All this means that CSV data exchanges can be fine for some links, while API’s, not only allow each system to exchange exactly the data that’s required, but this generally happens in virtually real time. However, just as with other aspects of integration, API’s can be very comprehensive or they might be quite basic, allowing only a limited range of question’s and responses. So some systems have API’s that do many things and other systems API’s may restrict what you need to achieve.
“Top to Toe web integration has opened a whole new world for me, my web business is growing really fast”
When you buy a good EPOS system you are normally buying a fully integrated range of internal integrations (eg hub system to till system, hub system to mobile stock check software) that work as a cohesive, seamless overall system. These modules should be able to exchange data with external systems such as your web site, Amazon, Ebay and accounts packages. In addition, they may also use other software in such a way as to appear integral to the program.
A good example of this is credit card clearance software – the banks only authorise a few specialist companies to link directly to their systems, so to be able to clear credit cards your EPOS system’s tills needs to have an almost invisible integration with bank approved credit card software.
If you’re a clothing or footwear retailer, whether bricks and mortar, web only or both – you need to ensure that the stock system is the strongest element, not the weakest. If the EPOS stock system at the heart of everything is inappropriate then external integrations are secondary
Everything flows from your stock and sales system.
So what is possible with Top To Toe’s fully integrated system?
As we’ve learnt, the stock system is critical to the health of your business; it’s central to all your integrations. If you’re an apparel retailer, then a general system will take hours to load size and colour data that with Top to Toe would otherwise take just minutes – and then Top to Toe automated integrations start to work their magic.
Top to Toe will automate the links to web sites and accounts. Assistance with VAT and Making Tax Digital is helpful for almost every retailer. For web links, Top to Toe automates the entire process – you can add web pictures and descriptions and Top to Toe will then actually create the product for you on multiple platforms.
This means that a style created in seconds on Top to Toe will automatically appear on all your tills… and also on all your web sites! Whenever anything is sold, anywhere, your web sites are all adjusted automatically. For each sale, Top to Toe creates an automated delivery note and when the product is shipped tells Amazon and eBay that it’s on its way. And if you want an automated link to your courier system then that’s available too.
You could put double the labour into a general system and
get only 10% – 20% of the benefit.
So you could put double the labour into a general system, and double your pay bill, but still only get 10% – 20% of the benefit. And it’s not only the time taken to input merchandise to a general system that is expensive. Still more costly is the lack of your time this creates (as if you weren’t busy enough already). With limited time, and none specialist analysis, you lose the ability to really analyse what’s happening and take timely actionYou’ve lost a key tool in building your business health and profitability.
Again and again opportunities get missed when users have the data but cannot see it presented in ways that make intuitive sense, or simply don’t have the time to plough through laborious and cumbersome reporting screens that were never designed to present style information or size and colour information.
So, as well as Top to Toe keeping down your salary bills, it will also empower you get onto more web sites with more styles… and then tell you what works, at what price and where.
“Our old system produced endless streams of numbers that we never really made sense of, but Top to Toe produces real information – stuff we can use to make a difference”
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Top to Toe, Senator House,
2 Graham Road, London