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If you’re wondering the difference between these two terms, you’re not alone. Whether you’re new to scanning inventory or tracking your tobacco sales, this will help clarify some differences and why both matter.

What is Scanning Software?

Often, scanning software in the convenience store industry means the same thing as back-office software (BOS). Why?

Back-office solutions pull sales and other data from point-of-sale (POS) systems. The name came about simply because the cashier uses a scanner to scan barcodes as they “scan out” items during a sale at the POS.

There are four primary ways scanned data makes its way to the back-office solution, including when a c-store scans:

  1. Received merchandise and other goods with a hand-held mobile inventory scanner
  2. Inventory during a physical inventory count or cycle count
  3. Items at the point-of-sale (POS) during a sale or for other reasons, such as a price check
  4. Receiving documents and invoices via a mobile app or flatbed scanner for further processing

What are Back-Office Solutions?

A BOS is your operational analyst, working behind the scenes 24/7 to improve your business. It tracks thousands of items and hundreds of thousands of transactions every year. It can even tell you how much each sale generates in revenue and margins.

A back-office solution tracks, stores data and gives you insight into your inventory and sales operations. It helps you manage:

  • Wet Stock (Fuel Inventory)
  • Dry Stock (In-store Inventory)
  • Fresh/Prepared Food
  • Price Book(s)
  • Promotions
  • Transactions
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Receiving Documents, BOLs and Invoices
  • Reporting
  • Daily Tasks (Workflows)

Back-Office Integrations

To collect data, tech companies need to have strong business and technical partnerships with a variety of players in the industry, including:

  • Leading POS Providers
  • Other Point-of-Sale Devices
  • Loyalty Systems
  • In-store Gateways (Networking Devices)
  • Forecourt Devices
  • Automatic Tank Gauge, sometimes called “remote” ATG, Systems

What are Scan Data Apps?

Scan data apps collect sales data, like back-office solutions, but with a very narrow purpose. Its purpose is to compile and transfer reports for specific items (SKUs). These reports are the verifiable proof you’ve met promotional program requirements such as tobacco manufacturer rebate (buydown) programs.

What can you expect these apps to do?

  • Collect Sales Data
  • Assemble the Data into Templated Third-Party Reports
  • Update Report Templates as Requirements Change
  • Transmit those Reports to Promotional Partners or Third-Parties for Reimbursement or Payment

What’s New with Scan Data Apps?

In 2021, Altria incentivized tobacco retailers to subscribe to an app provider that uses their API to accept promotions. Why? One main issue for retailers is making mistakes when they set up their promotions which ultimately causes them to lose out on rebates they thought they earned. Only about six tech companies offer this option, including Petrosoft and our Scan Data app.


What can you expect in 2022? Tobacco companies, such as Altria, are reimagining their rebate programs. That means they will require more from retailers than ever before to earn their rebates. So this may be an ideal time to re-evaluate your scan data solution provider.

See How Scan Data Apps Are Evolving

View EJ Pope’s Experience: Petrosoft and Altria’s API Integration