How Oliver is Changing the POS Industry Through The Power of eCommerce
Mathias brings with him a strong international background in entrepreneurship and business development and has extensive experience offering a range of IT and management consulting services to his clients including; cloud and mobile based app development, advanced database development, online shop templates, corporate webpages, and media optimization. His recent focus has been in assisting innovative start-ups in building their IT infrastructure and commercializing their technologies.
Prior to moving to Canada and founding Creative Maple, Mathias spent seven years living in Beijing, China where his firm developed IT solutions for the consumer products industry that utilized innovative smartphone scanning technology to help customers identify genuine products from counterfeit products. Now Mathias is the founder and CEO of Oliver POS.
Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic podcast where each week Jonathan and his co-host interview, the leading experts in WordPress, e-learning, and online marketing. Jonathan, take it away.
Jonathan Denwood: Welcome back folks to the WP-Tonic Show, it’s episode 667. We have a great guest, we have Mathias Nielson, the CEO of Oliver POS. We’re going to be talking about the Oliver platform, about e-commerce in general, It should be a great show. So, Mathias can you introduce yourself quickly? Give us a quick 20-second intro.
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, sure. So, hello everyone, my name is Mathias Nielson, I’m originally from Denmark hence my accent and I’m the founder and CEO of Oliver POS and Oliver POS while we were editing an adaptable in-store point of sales channel to your existing WooCommerce store.
Jonathan Denwood: Sounds great. And I’ve got my great co-host, Steven, Steven, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
Steven Sauder: Yeah. My name is Steven Sauder; I’m from zipfish.io, where we make WordPress blazing fast by optimizing servers and the code that runs on them.
Jonathan Denwood: Before we go into the main part of the interview with Mathias I just want to talk about one of our great sponsors and that’s Kinsta Hosting. Kinsta hosting is a WordPress only hosting provider, if you’re looking for a powerful platform for yourself or WooCommerce, for a learning management or membership website or you’re developing a website for a client, you really should look at Kinsta hosting.
They have the performance, support, and technology, that you’re looking for, so go over to Kinsta, have a look at their packages, I suggest that you should buy one for yourself or for your clients. And if you do, do that, and please do, please also tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic Show, it helps Kinsta and it helps the show as well. So, straight into the interview, so Mathias what made you decide to set up Oliver and how long has it been running, and what are some of the fundamental problems that you think that you are solving with your platform?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, so great question. Well yeah, I’ve been building webshops and WordPress sites for many, many years, and I would say in the hundreds by now and have had a consultancy agency that just builds WooCommerce sites, many a week. And we had a lot of issues with our customers coming and saying, we have built this really advanced webshop that has, for example, some advanced product types or whatever on it. Now what POS should be used, we have the storefront, what works well with it?
And we kept running into this issue over and over again, and it came to the point where we just said, well, we’re developers, we can do this. And then we kind of decided to build a POS solution that is as adaptable as WooCommerce and webshops are. So, the mission was to say, let’s build something that can tie in really, really well to the web-shops and look at them as the single source of truth. And by doing that becoming as adaptable as they can be if that makes sense?
Jonathan Denwood: Can you quickly maybe for those that aren’t so knowledgeable about e-commerce and what POS is, what is it, what does it actually do?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, sure. So, POS or point of sale is when you go into a shop and you see the clerk or the cashier having this touch screen in front of you, that is the point of sale. So, it’s the unit that keeps track of inventory, products, your customers’ orders, and all that. So, it’s almost what WooCommerce does, but just for your physical store.
Jonathan Denwood: All right. Over to you, Steven.
Steven Sauder: It’s a really cool company, I feel like what you were saying about building web stores and people asking, what should they use for a POS. I’ve heard that probably a hundred times, people are like, hey, I want to connect this, maybe they’re people that make the decision whether to go WordPress or use another thing off of the shelf because of the POS systems. And so, like Oliver sitting here kind of just looking at some of these products online and the POS system, kind of user interface, it looks super cool. How, how does that work exactly?
How does it interface with my WooCommerce store? And, if I put prices in the WooCommerce store that automatically comes straight over to that POS and is it a live update sort of thing, somebody’s checking out e-commerce and inventory management and all that. How does that work behind the CNC?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, super question. So yeah, all of those things, what we’ve done is we’re WooCommerce developers at heart and kind of set out to say, let’s not reinvent our own platform. We don’t want to tie in with any accounting system in the world, we don’t want to tie in with all of those good plugins that are already made for WooCommerce to sync WooCommerce over to other platforms. So, we said let’s just work really, really well with WooCommerce and the core of WooCommerce.
So, you can’t really add products on Oliver, when you want to add a product, you add it in your webshop in WooCommerce, and then it’s instantly over in Oliver. So, now whenever you see it on Oliver and you’re selling, we’re actually on the spot processing the payment working with all the hardware and local payment processors and whatnot. But we’re actually running the order through WooCommerce once it’s done instantaneously almost.
So, in that way, when we do that, we trigger all of the other things that you might’ve connected to WooCommerce to update as well. It could be your QuickBooks accounting or whatever that is tied into it, we work with them the same way as the webshop.
Steven Sauder: So, there’s an Oliver plugin that you install on your WooCommerce site, and then I would buy this POS hardware system from you guys and plug it in and then log into an account, I guess on there, and then all of a sudden that data syncs over. So, all my products are there in the POS system, or what does that set up look like?
Mathias Nielson: So, what would happen is, you have your webshop or WooCommerce store, you’ll go to the plugin repository search for Oliver POS, install it, and it says launch Oliver POS. And when you click that, we take all of the products, all of your customers, all of the orders that you already have out there, all of your texts, settings, all of those things, we migrate them over into now install sales channel, the point of sale. And when you’re then selling it syncs back and forth automatically from the non.
So, it’s really just a plugin that you install, and then you get that extra sales channel. An important part is you can sell from any computer, anything with a browser in the world, you just take your phone or your browser anywhere login with Oliver. And now you can start selling from your WooCommerce store but in a touch print environment. We do have the hardware, but it’s not a necessity, I would say for the pro users that have a lot of traffic coming through it’s definitely a convenience point and quicker and whatnot, but you can take an old laptop and open up shop at a fair or whatever.
Steven Sauder: Nice. So, if I’m a store owner or I’m working with a store owner and they already have an iPad system running, whatever other POS system that we’re trying to connect with through commerce store, they could keep using their same hardware as long as they had a web connection and then a browser to launch Oliver on.
Mathias Nielson: Absolutely. So, we’re very proud of being adaptable and agnostic to whatever platform you are on. So, we’re constantly working on that, on coming out on platforms even with specific apps for Windows and, and Mac OS, we’re working on now as a full stretched app. Any web browser and you should be good to sell with Oliver.
Steven Sauder: Cool. That’s awesome. So, you touched briefly on payment stuff. Like if somebody hands me a credit card and I swipe the card or use the chip or whatever does that get routed through WooCommerce as well? Or does that get routed through a different method and then you just send that data to WooCommerce?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah. So, it kind of depends, what we try and take care of is anything that would be in-store, we help you handle. So, WooCommerce is not set up to handle cash payments, for example, or things that would happen in-store, print a receipt, or take a credit card a process like this, and work with that. We take care of that connection, so once you’ve set up Oliver, you can then choose your processors and tie in with your credit card, terminal, your receipt printers, and whatnot. So, we would take care of that puzzle for all the customers.
Steven Sauder: Wow. That’s super cool. So, if I have some negotiated rate already with whatever point of system sale I have, I don’t have to throw out all the credit card readers that I have or I don’t have to figure out a whole new way of integrating this. I can kind of just grab my WooCommerce store, put it here, and Oliver will integrate with it, as long as it’s a standard hardware, I assume.
Mathias Nielson: Yeah. It comes down to the standard, there will be some that are very old, that we wouldn’t be able to directly connect with. But we still have what we call a semi-integrated environment, which would be, we tell you whatever the amount is, even though you’re promising them at times you type $45 and hand it over. So, in that way, we would work with any terminal in the world, if you want click on Oliver pay now, and it pops up with an automatic amount and everything. It’s all in the service types of processes, but we are adding a new one every week, I would say right now.
Awesome. What are you guys seeing right now, as far as with COVID and pandemic stuff, I know Canada hasn’t quite seen, the lockdowns or shutdowns, like the US has, but how’s that impacting your business and what you guys are doing?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah. So, I think we’re yet to see the final part on it, we don’t really or we’re not that specific in our countries. We are with WooCommerce in that way that wherever WooCommerce can run, we run, we’ve tried to build ourselves as the global POS solution in that way. So, it doesn’t really matter for us about Canada, but worldwide, I think as we’ve seen many small shops are going to build an online store or we’re going to have, and I believe that the world is going to come back to normal eventually.
And, and in that way, people will need, a POS solution to tie in with the webshop that they will most likely build throughout COVID. So we have been, been doing pretty well. I would say overall we’ve had a lot of good traction. And, and I’ve been growing throughout the pandemic, even though I do think a lot of merchants have been heard. We were there to support them with whatever we can write them.
Steven Sauder: That’s awesome. Where do you like your customers to come from? Because I feel like a lot of times people are moving from like earliest right now, like from their physical store to digital. Do a lot of people like coming into Oliver from the opposite direction, like they had their e-commerce store and now they want to get a brick and mortar location. Is that how most people find Oliver to get there? Or how does that, how does that work? How does somebody decide to switch over to all?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, good question. There are a couple in there, I will say it’s split if it’s a new store that they’re switching from Shopify over to WooCommerce or something like that, and then they need a POS or they might already have but yeah, it’s kind of split up in that way.
Steven Sauder: Cool. So, in your mind, when you’re a physical retailer and you’re thinking about setting up a web store, a lot of people are like, should I go Shopify? Should I go WooCommerce and how would you help somebody make that decision if they should go to WooCommerce or Shopify when they’re building out their e-commerce store and even if a brick and mortar place because Shopify has her whole POS system too. Why should somebody use WooCommerce over Shopify, I guess is the question?
Steven Sauder: It is a riveting question I have my own thoughts.
Mathias Nielson: And I’m probably biased in this answer too, but I love the open-source side, I love the power of developers being able to fully change, there’re a lot of challenges that you might not even see when you open. And it comes back to if I were to comment on it on a POS angle with Shopify there’s one. And if you don’t fit that, you’re out of luck, kind of, wherewith WooCommerce there’s a lot that ties into WooCommerce.
I don’t think everybody grasps the ability of how much you can do with WooCommerce but for me, that’s the power of WooCommerce it’s all of the awesome developers that are out there that can fully tweak your store. Not just semi, but fully the whole experience can, as you’re well aware of total change, depending on what developers you have with video and budgets and whatnot. So yeah, I think there, the limitation or the limitless environment is what I’m a big fan of.
Jonathan Denwood: Before we go to our break I’ve got one question. So, in this world one of the bigger players is Square, so how fragmented is the POS market in general? How much of the cake does Square have compared to the other players?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, so they’re of course big, but we’re not really looking at the same customers. So, for us if you’re a WooCommerce customer, it’s very rare you use Square because they’re not really set up for each other. WooCommerce is a super-advanced environment, Square is very simplified, it’s all from the floor for standing at a market pace or something like that as if you Square with enough transactions that becomes very unaffordable or expensive to use.
So, then you would normally switch to a more advanced POS solution where we come in or some of the other good solutions that are out there
Jonathan Denwood: All right. Well, that’s a great answer, thanks. Mathias. So, we’re going to go for our break, when we come back, we’re going to delve more into e-commerce with Mathias Nelson, CEO of Oliver POS. We will be back in a few moments, folks.
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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back, we’ve had a good discussion about e-commerce a good introduction before we go into the second half of the show, I just wanted to remind you that me and Spencer Foreman are doing a free webinar on Friday the 12th, February Friday, the 12th at 10:30 Pacific standard time. And we are going to be discussing how you automate your learning management system either Lifter LMS or Learn Dash, how you can send automatic email responses that encourage people to finish their courses.
We’re going to be talking about FluentCRM, LaunchFlows, and how to integrate this as I said either with Lifter LMS or Learn Dash, it’s going to be a fantastic discussion. You can join us by signing up on the WP-Tonic website in the main navigation is a button that says webinar, and by joining us live, you’ll be able to ask Spencer and I any questions that you might have about automation with Lifter LMS or Learn Dash. It should be a great show, so please join us.
So, Mathias as I said I touched Square, how fragmented is the POS market in general? Are there a couple of big players or is it very fragmented the market and how big of a market is it in the totality in Canada and America?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah, so it is definitely fragmented and there’re a lot of specific solutions to niche industries. I kind of like to see it divided up into two, there are the self-standing POS solutions, there’re good solutions out there, Vend, Lightspeed, and Square and all those, but they were really built from the ground up not to connect to anything else. Then it’s kind of an afterthought of how you connect but they’re awesome POS solutions if you’re not meant to sell online or you can live with the limits of other environments.
Great. Then there is the other type, which is, well, let’s just build directly into WooCommerce on top of it, as a plugin, everything you have there lives in your own webshop. There would be the likes of actuality extensions or food sales or whatnot there. And then there’s us kind of in the middle, what we tried to achieve is we want to tie extremely well into the WooCommerce environment. But we also want to guarantee the speed of the checkout experience working well with hardware such as printers and payments integrations and whatnot.
So, in order to give that experience, we really need to run it on our own platform to guarantee all of these things, but we’re still looking at WooCommerce as the source of truth. So, we were kind of trying to take the best of both worlds and match together.
Jonathan Denwood: That’s great. Over to you, Steven.
Steven Sauder: So, something that I noticed when I was browsing your site is there’re all these extra features that it seems that Oliver can deliver, or I guess my question is, is that coming from Oliver or from a third-party WordPress thing? Because I saw this points and reward system for customers and a salesperson tracking how much sales a salesperson has generated and stuff. Are those additional features that Oliver will give?
Mathias Nielson: Yeah. So, one of the key things, when we set out to this vision of tackling and becoming what we look at as the most adaptable, POS solution in the world. What we really came up with was saying, why is WooCommerce so powerful, WooCommerce gives you a really strong shell, but it’s just the shell of symbol and variable products. You don’t have gift cards built-in and you don’t have all these things, but why it’s so powerful is they’re sitting developers with experience in each of these individual fields, and you can add them on as plugins.
We kind of embraced the same mentality in terms of them we call it apps, but it’s what you would look at as plugins where we give the power back to the developers. We say, hey, if you want to have a gift card or points and rewards, well, you can build an app within Oliver with any code you want. You could build it as a plugin, and then it opens up within the point of sale solution.
So, all the powers that you have from WooCommerce of points & rewards you can pull in and utilize the features that you have in your webshop directly at the point of sale. So, since that’s the extreme adaptability we’re trying to go for.
Steven Sauder: Wow. So, okay, that kind of just blew my mind. So, if I’m a developer and I’m like, hey, I want to create a plugin to handle some complex customer relationship things. So, when somebody comes into the store and uses a credit card, I tie that to a user and I know their name, or I don’t know whatever the complex thing. I could create a plugin for my WordPress site and have it run on my WordPress site, but then I could also get that data, whatever that data is, and pull it into the POS system.
Mathias Nielson: Yeah. So, anything that is built into WooCommerce, you can utilize in Oliver and we’re constantly working on this, but it lives anywhere in Oliver. So, if you open up a customer in Oliver, there’s a little app panel, so you can set up your own apps that could pull in my points or pull in whatever how many transitions they had in their LMS. You could pull that in and if you want to sell a training session, you could take those in note them up in Oliver, and it will automatically be able to add them to the cart, sell them, track them as a user.
And yeah, do anything you kind of can do with plugins, which as I kind of look at it limitless. If you want to call up an Emerson server and start pulling in recommendation engines, you could. So, there’re really no limits, and that’s what I kind of liked about WooCommerce, and it’s what I’ve been missing in the POS but we don’t want to control how you sell. We want you to have the power and more importantly the developers that you have hired to build your webshop.
Well, they have an amazing upsell strategy now, saying, why can’t I make a perfect fit for you where the plugin that I build that will also work in the webshop, sorry, in the point of sale. So, and that way they kind of can build the perfect experience throughout and not just online.
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Steven Sauder: That’s incredible because I feel that’s definitely something that is a huge weakness with like, there’re some other point of sale systems that tie into WooCommerce a little bit, but you’re really restricted. And all of a sudden, you have features on your website that you can’t pull over into your point of sale system. So, you have your sales associates, writing things down on paper or putting things into Google sheets but then your webmaster at the end of the day goes in and tries to import back into WooCommerce.
So, you can keep track of everything and it becomes a data nightmare. But if you can just pull that straight into your point of sale system, that’s pretty incredible.
Mathias Nielson: If you wanted to build an app that opens the Google sheet in, you could say, I can fill it out at least. Sounds fun.
Steven Sauder: That’s amazing. Wow. That is extraordinarily powerful because that’s the problem with every other system, we were talking about earlier, how do you decide on Shopify versus WooCommerce? Shopify, you’re locked into some things, there’re some things that you just can’t touch, you want to do some nifty upsell during the checkout flow. If it’s on the payment page, forget about it, Shopify, doesn’t let you touch anything, but WooCommerce; you can customize that however you want to customize that. And so, bringing that to the point of sale then too, makes it twice as powerful.
Mathias Nielson: That’s what excites us is giving that same flexibility and working with developers. We’re constantly opening up for more features as fast as we possibly can. So, if any developers out there say, I can’t do this, let us know, and we’ll get you to be able to do that.
Steven Sauder: That makes me really excited. I don’t have any point of sale systems that I’m working on right now, but all of a sudden, I want to one, I want to try these out. That’s so cool.
Mathias Nielson: But it comes down to, oh, sorry. Yeah, you go ahead.
Steven Sauder: I was just going to ask, how do you guys handle gift cards. You touched on gift cards really briefly, how does that work?
Mathias Nielson: So, we’re still a young system, so there’re still apps being built up every day now so there’re individual solutions out there for Oliver, but what you will see us launching in the next month, or so is a repository just like WooCommerce has or WordPress has where all of the apps for all of the developers can be uploaded to and you just install them and they work similarly to how you would have on your WooCommerce.
So, there’s a couple of different solutions out there reach out to us and I’m willing to hook you up with one, but we’re actually building the repository. So, right now it’s a lot of individual developers building, but we’re saying, why can’t we just take that and give it to the whole world but an app doesn’t need to be advanced. Often if I give a demo to somebody I’ll often say, let’s build an app together right here and right now and we can take and build something like a newsletter sign up in less than two minutes from the beginning, we can take Elementor, Divvy or anything and open it up in Oliver and build that form.
And now whenever a customer’s in your store and they’re checking out, you can say, hey, can I get you to sign up on this newsletter? And you have it right in front of you and you don’t need to go to a website or write it down on paper, it can be really simple apps or super advanced.
Steven Sauder: So, if I could build something in Elementor, I can pull that into the POS system, well, that’s even easier than I thought. I thought I was going to have to build some custom plugin, but no, you’re telling me if I can create a form or create whatever sort of page I can pop right up into.
Mathias Nielson: Anything, it could be a live video stream of your security cam coming into your room commercially, or your point of sale; it doesn’t really matter to us, they live as individual units. So, whatever you can dream of you build in there, and then the power is that, that middle app can communicate with the POS and we communicate back and forth, which means that now you can automatically pull index customer and say, hey, you’ve been here for the last three weeks you’ve bought for this much.
Let’s give him a custom discount automatically, so you can build in the business intelligence into your apps as well.
Steven Sauder: That’s amazing. I feel like this idea of having a very flexible POS system only shows up once you get to very enterprise-level stuff, and then that’s a whole new price tier that no small, little mom and pop shop could ever qualify for. So, it just opens up the whole market to that, that’s incredible.
Mathias Nielson: We kind of believe the more apps, the more power of it.
Jonathan Denwood: I think we’ll wrap up the podcast part of the show; hopefully Mathias can stay on for some bonus content. I want to ask him about how he ended up in Canada, so he looks like he’s okay so you started, so you’ll be able to watch the whole interview plus the bonus interview content on the WP-Tonic YouTube channel. So, if you want to see the whole interview, plus the bonus content as I said go over to the WP-Tonic channel on YouTube and also subscribe, and also give us a comment and a bell up, it really does help the show.
We’ll be back next week for the podcast part of the show with another fabulous guest and another great interview. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.