Google is in the works to acquired a company called Pointy. Pointy offers a little device that makes getting retailer products online easier. In the past years, there have been several businesses that had the same model. However, the differences between Pointy and the other system were those were software that connected with your Point of Sale System.
“One of the challenges small merchants face is getting their in-store inventory information online in a way that is easy to manage and reliably up to date.“–Google
Many POS systems and e-commerce stores have the same capabilities as Pointy, without the added hardware. Retailers will need to consider deeper issues with integrating Pointy into POS. The main points of contention for me are:
The Cost To Get Pointy
Point of Sales Systems are expensive costing upwards of $2,000 per POS. Pointy charges a one time fee of $899 in addition to the cost of the POS. So per POS system, you would need to add an additional $899. The other option is to have one dedicate POS for all Pointy scanning needs.
A big consideration for small business should be hardware degradation (I said a mouth full, right….). At some point in the future, Pointy will have to be replaced. I don’t know the product warranty on the device, but for the cost it better be pretty good.
The makers also claim that the device works with over 100 POS and list a few. But, when you click on the link to see the other 100, it takes you to a sign up form. That’s the other issue. It works with 100 other POS systems, but does it work of the box, or is there extra development cost to make it work? If so, then how much does it does for the extra software development on top of the cost for Pointy? Ask hard questions before making expensive hardware purchases.
PC-DSS Compliance & Synching
This little scanner is now attached to your POS system. You have a new piece of hardware that has to through the hassel of PCI-DSS compliance. Add the required vulnerability scans, and this device does not look like the hot new toy of the season.
Small retailers need e-commerce automation and synchronization. I had an e-commerce store and a POS that I wanted to synced together (this was 8 years ago, time have changed). But, the cost for developing such a tool to work across two completely different platforms was costly ($2,000 at the time). I also had to consider the information that was synced. User data had to be secured. At the time, Virtual Private& Dedicated Hosting were out of the question because of the cost. Again times have changed.
It cost more time to upload images, product details, and create product pages for a small boutique. I spend hours creating the e-commerce store. But, the control I had over product pages made it well worth it. No one can sell products like you or your staff.
Privacy & Data Storage
Pointy creates and hosts product listing pages for products sold. The device also give you the option to add the information to your Google “In Stores Now” section of your business listing. All good, but how do they know your inventory levels? The smart device guesses at your inventory and places your paid listing ads on line. But wait a minute! It does not update your e-commerce store.
The other concern, is data security and privacy. Do you scan as people make purchases? Or when inventory arrives? Since Pointy is an automated system, it searches for similar products, manufactures websites, and other retailers for product details. Automated product descriptions is big no-no. First, you very generic product description, which makes for bad Search Engine Optimization. Secondly,you don’t know where Pointy pulls the information. and Lastly, the data is stored in some unknown data center.
You may not be sending credit card data to Pointy or Google, but my biggest concern is a data breach. Any new hardware you add to a computer has the potential to obscure data security best practices.
What’s So Good About Pointy Then?
You can easily integrate products with Google’s “See What’s In Store” feature. This has the potential to drive local shoppers to your store. Potential customers can discover what your retail store sells within Google Search.
Driving business to a retail store is hard work. People are savvy about pricing, discounts, and finding the best deal for their budget. Don’t think that Pointy will be a magic wand that will solve all of your problems. It’s not an alternative to a branded ecommerce store. It’s not an alternative to a website or marketing. I am all with small businesses keeping as much control over the how they market their products. Pointy makes promises, but I just don’t see the benefits of an $900 piece of hardware.
My suggestion for small businesses:
Work with a developer to integrate your Point of Sale System with your e-commerce platform. Create a plug in that can automatically create a Google Product Listing Ad. Couple this with a Google Ad account, and control more of your marketing spend. I just can’t justify the cost. It’s a great deal for Google, but not small business retailers.
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