So much may have changed since you first launched your retail business. With time, you may have a bigger office, more employees, and resources.
As a thriving company, you are probably facing one of the most common problems in business—having a wealth of data but not being able to organize it effectively, or derive valuable insights from it.
That’s because disparate systems aren’t designed to interact with other digital solutions, as they don’t speak any other language but their own.
Disparate systems won’t be able to provide you with a clear view of operations. They require a lot of system upgrades leading, to higher costs. In addition, any inefficiencies in your operation will affect your customer’s experience.
Let’s not forget that, now more than ever, retailers need to provide consumers with a seamless shopping experience where they can easily switch from one shopping channel to another.
To do that, you need to connect your disparate systems with an omnichannel solution.
What is an Omnichannel Solution?
Today, when you think of improving customer experience, you’ll want to adopt an omnichannel solution. Instead of catering only to consumers who are looking up the brand from their desktops or their mobile phones, you can now embrace a holistic approach to retailing.
You can cater to potential audiences from every channel, and curious guests who you might be able to convert into paying customers.
An omnichannel solution enables retailers to implement a seamless shopping experience, allowing you to provide outstanding customer service no matter where a person chooses to reach out from.
Whether your audience engages your brand online or offline, the experience will be smooth and convenient. The omnichannel experience covers eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, but also encompasses the following:
- Mobile websites
- Social media channels
- Messaging and SMS
- Email marketing campaigns
Consumers can, for instance, look up stores that are near them and browse products that are available at that location. Then, they can drop by the closest brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase.
Conversely, consumers can browse products at a physical store, also known as showrooming.
If an item they like doesn’t come in the right size or the color they want, they can take out their phone to check if the option they prefer is online. They can then make the purchase from there.
It’s important to note that an omnichannel experience is made possible through a multi-channel approach. However, not all multi-channel solutions provide an omnichannel experience.
In a multi-channel approach, retailers use different platforms to interact with consumers, and they implement a separate strategy for each one.
An omnichannel solution, on the other hand, integrates every platform and device that the customer might use to engage with the brand. It ensures that consumers can seamlessly navigate across company touchpoints to make a purchase.
Why Invest in an Omnichannel Experience?
The retail industry is constantly changing, bringing in new challenges for retailers who are looking to engage with more consumers. In the not-so-distant past, the average consumer only needed a few touchpoints to make a purchase.
Today, about 31% of consumers use five or more devices to connect. Customers not only want to buy from a brand but also want to experience it.
Here are other statistics to prove the importance of omnichannel:
- 73% of the 46,000 participants in Harvard Business Review’s study prefer multiple channels; 20% were store-only shoppers, and the remaining 7% were online-only shoppers.
- Omnichannel shoppers are loyal, amassing an average of 23% repeat shopping trips.
- Omnichannel shoppers were more like to make brand recommendations.
In the past, retailers would promote ads through various forms of print media and catalogs in hope of driving traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Although these particular touchpoints are still relevant today, they are no longer the cornerstones of an effective marketing plan.
Now that consumers shop across multiple channels using different devices, traditional retailers can no longer stick to just the conventional approaches that have worked for them before.
Today’s consumers are also quite different from the customers that traditional retailers have grown accustomed to. Shoppers nowadays yearn for some degree of personalization. The hard sell won’t work on them, unlike before.
Investing in an omnichannel solution would be the smartest way to tap into wider audiences and retain existing consumers. That’s because an implementing omnichannel approach helps you create meaningful touchpoints and provide a consistent, branded experience at every single one.
One of the latest and most popular retail trends these days is the buy online, pick up in-store concept.
It’s exactly what its name suggests: a customer buys a product online and gets it from the store.
This way, online shoppers don’t have to pay for shipping, and they certainly don’t need to wait for it in the mail.
As for retailers, they can make a sale while a consumer is still in the product research phase.
The buy online, pick up in-store tact won’t be as effective without an omnichannel solution. When a buyer makes a purchase online and intends to pick their order up at a local store, they will expect the item to be available right away.
Customers shouldn’t have to wait for shipping if the item is out of stock. That’s where an omnichannel solution comes in.
Since it integrates all channels, you are able to provide customer access to local inventories, allowing them to see if an item is available at a particular store or not.
How to Integrate eCommerce and Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Consumers expect retailers to provide more efficient shopping experiences such as the buy online, pick up in-store concept.
Shoppers want the most convenient way to receive instant gratification.
So, strive to align online and offline channels, and create a consistent brand experience across these platforms.
When consumers don’t receive the personalized experience they’ve been promised, they won’t hesitate to seek a different brand that can provide the seamless experience they crave for.
#1 Multi-channel listing
An omnichannel experience is incomplete without multi-channel listing and selling.
After all, this seamless approach is all about giving customers the opportunity to choose from multiple channels and make a purchase from the one they prefer.
One way to start is by creating multiple online stores, all of which are ideally centered in their respective geographic regions. Maintaining a presence in marketplaces such as Amazon also helps.
In this platform alone, you can potentially reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of shoppers worldwide if managed well.
Another channel to secure is social media. On Facebook, for example, there’s a native app you can use to list and sell products from the platform itself. Instagram, on the other hand, functions a bit differently.
From there, you can tag your products or add a Shop Now button that will lead customers to the page where customers can make a purchase. Finally, it still also helps to have multiple brick-and-mortar stores.
#2 Point-of-Sale integration
Integrating a point-of-sale system is necessary if you intend to build an omnichannel experience. POS Software such as Retail Pro can be integrated well with other systems, giving you full access to accurate up-to-date information in real-time. By integrating inventories for both online and in-store sales, you can boost sell-through rates and maintain less stock.
Aside from providing a clear picture of your sales performance—whether online or offline—this also makes it easier for you to sell your products and to receive payments from various channels.
#3 Inventory management
Give consumers access to product inventory in real-time to enable them to shop at whatever channel they like.
Having that data readily available to shoppers, especially to consumers who like to look up products online and buy them at a local store, will make a big difference in their shopping experience. You don’t want to waste consumers’ time or frustrate them with inaccurate data.
This is also quite important if you plan on implementing the buy online, pick up in-store tactic.
By implementing an omnichannel solution, you can give consumers and employees access to inventory information in real-time.
#4 Marketing integration
Sprinkling marketing efforts between each channel will help you retain about 89% of your customers. Skipping marketing integration only lets brands retain an average 33% of consumers.
So, what difference does it make?
A consumer looking up a dress on your website won’t only be provided with the right retargeted ads when they leave your site, but the next time they visit, they will be given an experience focused on dresses for extra push.
If you capture their email address from click-to-actions or onsite overlays, you can personalize advertising for them too.
In the digital era, setting up an awesome online experience alone or an incredible in-store experience won’t cut it. You must do both—and so much more. Retailers who are able to embrace innovative ways to blend all channels into a seamless experience not only survive, but thrive in this fiercely competitive industry. When you streamline operations and provide a unified shopping experience, you will create new customers and build lasting relationships.