In few industries has digital transformation had more impact than retail. In recent years traditional retailers embraced tech for the first time and omnichannel retailers doubled down on their investment. Pressure to do so comes from consumer demand for more streamlined customer experiences (CX) and employee demand for flexibility and productivity.

However, too often local retailers approached technology with short-term challenges and not long-term success in mind. They embraced best-in-breed solutions for every business process, with the mantra ‘more is more’. The days of relying on multiple best-in-breed solutions are over though. Doing so is expensive, ineffective and creates business silos.

Strategic businesses are those who adopt a ‘unified’, embedded approach to technology, where everything from payments to bookkeeping and inventory works in harmony, not independently. But what is a unified approach to technology? Why is it essential to avoid ‘silos’? And what are the benefits for retailers?

A unified approach to technology

A unified or ‘embedded’ approach to technology is one in which different tools, apps and processes are connected, allowing the flow of information. Consider it in the context of your payments and point-of-sale (POS) software; two of the most crucial aspects of a retail operation.

An embedded payments solution is one that communicates with your POS system to process payments and complete transactions. Your transactions are recorded automatically in your POS system, removing the need for manual entry. The benefit is a far speedier checkout experience for both you and your customers, and behind the scenes it removes human error and streamlines a previously time-consuming and mundane administrative process.

Because it’s linked directly with your POS system, an embedded payments solution provides data related to reporting, inventory, analytics, and other software your POS uses. For eCommerce applications, having an embedded payments solution means your customers won’t be taken to a third-party website or app to complete payments – a step that can lead to cart abandonment. Embedded payment processing is ideal for all types of businesses, including those that transact online and in-person. The other major benefit is not something it directly does, but something it helps you avoid: silos.

The dangers of technology silos

When your processor isn’t connected to your POS system, you won’t have automatic access to data related to reporting, inventory and more. Non-embedded payments are generally less ideal for merchants, because they require manual work and introduce complexities to the checkout experience – unhelpful for both your business and customers.

Furthermore, it creates ‘silos’, which are problematic for retailers because they limit business visibility, threaten data integrity, waste time and resources, diminish customer experience and compromise data security. Imagine, if your employees weren’t communicating or operating as a team, your business would suffer. They’d be operating in ‘silos’. Just as it’s essential your team avoid that, it’s the same case for your software. If your business can remove silos in your technology – for example through payments and POS – you’ll be operating more efficiently, effectively and strategically.

The benefits of unification

The benefits for your retail business are numerous, and far broader than just a streamlined checkout process. When your POS and payment solutions are tightly embedded it can help drive higher revenue and profit. That’s because it’s much easier to implement things like tipping or loyalty programs, which can help drive revenue and enable you to build stronger customer connections. One of the biggest determinants of customer satisfaction is the checkout process. If the process is streamlined, their satisfaction – and by extension, their loyalty – is likely higher.

The benefits are internal, too. By not having to fork out for different pieces of hardware and software, you can likely save money. And when you have more solutions from one vendor, rather than from multiple vendors, service and support is easier, and there are more opportunities to drive growth and efficiency.

Additionally, because your in-store and online sales are entered automatically into your accounting software, bookkeeping becomes much easier. You’ll no longer have to manually enter and record every POS transaction, making it much easier to automate and maintain records for accounting purposes – particularly beneficial today, with tax season upon us.

And through the improved reporting enhanced security it provides, your business can work smarter and more safely than ever before. For retailers, the future of technology is embedded. The days of relying on multiple best-in-breed solutions are over. Doing so is expensive, ineffective and creates business silos. Smart businesses are those who adopt a unified, embedded approach to technology, where everything from payments and POS, and bookkeeping to inventory works in harmony, not independently.

Andrew Fraser is managing director for Asia Pacific at Lightspeed.