POS Will Be Discovered & Bought for Their Integrations (i.e. Apps)


Bob Frazier, a good friend of ours who runs POS-Advice, forwarded us a great write up on Slack, a messaging company from Silicon Valley. If you’re not familiar with Slack, here’s a brief rundown:

  • Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield, also founded and sold Flickr. In both instances he tried creating a totally different company, failed, and wound up being incredibly lucky. Slack was originally a failed video game company, for example
  • Slack is the fastest growing SaaS business of all time – from $0 to $4B valuation in < 4 years
  • They’re adding $1MM of revenue every 11 days
  • 77% of the Fortune 100 use them
  • Their user growth, below, is nearly 100% organic by word of mouth

The underlying story is amazingly parallel to the POS industry, and something everyone in the POS industry needs to watch.

POS systems are being increasingly purchased online, directly from the POS manufacturer (ISV). Many newer POS companies, like Shopkeep and Square, spend gobs of money on SEO (search engine optimization) to make sure they come up when people search certain keywords on search engines.

What Slack realized in the early days were that many of its integration partners – companies that had services that could integrate to Slack – had much better recognition than they did. To quote from the article,

… a big part of Slack’s organic SEO success comes from Slack’s App Directory landing pages.

We’re going to quote more of the author below but not use the wordpress quotation formatting so it’s easier to read.

Here is a table that’ll give you an idea of how this works. It’s an overview of some of Slack’s top organic keywords with the highest global monthly search volume by rank on the first page of Google. All the organic listing links drive traffic to one of Slack’s App Directory landing pages.

As you can see here quite obviously, the people who type in these keywords aren’t specifically searching for Slack. Yet, people who search for these other products often see Slack’s website. Why?

Well, the first thing to note is that each and every one of these are products that have integration capabilities with Slack. So, Slack took advantage of this to make sure they often end up on the first page search results whenever anyone searches a product with which Slack integrates.

To do this, Slack has an individual landing page for each of their integrations. Some are created by App Directory Partners, while major integrations are often created by Slack themself.

For Slack created integration webpages, each webpage follows the same simple 3-part sequence for their SEO strategy:

  1. The name of the integration in the webpage’s headline
  2. One sentence explaining what the integration is
  3. One sentence explaining how the integration works with Slack

Take note, the smart folks over at Slack know that having an App Directory is critical to their long term success. Why? Because the more integrations people add to their Slack, the more “sticky” they will become as their entire working life becomes fully integrated with Slack.

Why should POS companies pay attention?

The value of POS will be the connectivity it provides. In the very near future many more consumers will be purchasing meals, making reservations, and buying goods directly from demand generating platforms like Amazon, Google and Bing. It’s imperative that the POS companies facilitate these integrations for their merchant customers.

In doing so the POS companies will be able to leverage the brand awareness of the large demand generation platforms much as Slack did for their App Directory. “Hey, we at XYZ POS integrate to Google, Yelp, Facebook,” and on and on.

These connections, like the app stores on mobile devices, will become the most important features of POS. This is why we’ve always been in favor of open ecosystems and investment in connectivity at the expense of ridiculous payouts to lazy POS execs.

Step up or the market will step you out.

  • paulmcenany


  • Matthew Starobin

    This makes a great deal of sense. But I wonder about costs.

    We sell food costing software that interfaces with POS, supplier data, etc. So if someone is searching for ‘XYZ Restaurant POS’, the cost very high, since the deep pocketed competition is trying to jump the line.

    • Jordan Thaeler

      Eventually this will work itself out. SEO is inflated but toast et al will not get venture capital dollars forever

  • Ned Harrison

    Great article, great thoughts shared. Part of the problem is that “legacy” vendors much like the word legacy are stuck in their old ways of thinking, resisting change for the sake of protecting their market share or territory. However, there are innovative ways to create value and even more customers by opening up your solution to others. I agree it is easier said than done and as a result unfortunately people put it in the “too hard” basket or the “don’t care” basket since they’re already drawing enough revenue. However, that said, just like water finding its way under/around/over/through objects, market forces will change this POS level playing field — only just a matter of time (e.g. plenty of examples but let’s not forget Blackberry and its hard stance on the keyboard and messaging as its differentiator. Kodak with its print/film cameras etc). If humans lived forever, we would never have innovation. Thanks to new generations, new blood and new ideas, innovation will always be ripe and abound. The rest we just leave to “Time” to do its magic.

    • Jordan Thaeler

      There would still be innovation if humans lived forever. Market forces put pressure on goods and services to be better and cheaper. Always. At least in markets with little to no governmental interference. It is amazing how 95%+ of the brick and mortar market doesn’t understand the natural trend of progress and fights against the current.

      • Matthew Starobin

        Lots of industrialists would actually disagree that lack of government interference enables innovation.

        The whole issue with monopolies is that they stifle competition, and it’s competition that pushes the ethic of innovation.

        It’s not lifespan, and it’s not the ‘government’. The government breakups of telcos, technology companies, rail roads, and the rejection of acquisitions that would enable monopolies (ie, stifle competition) is bought to you by the federal government.

        Admittedly the feds also create lots of problems. But the broad brush stroke of market forces live where there’s no government intervention just isn’t proven out historically.