Today, as a retailer, you’re constantly just a few missed steps from being swept away by your competitors. To stay at the top of your game, you need to frequently make improvements to your merchant processes, from inventory to fulfillment and delivery.
One of the central points of a successful modern retail business is the implementation of an omnichannel retailing and omnichannel marketing strategy; here’s what that is and how it will lead you to success.
What is Omnichannel Retailing?
Many merchants, both retail and wholesale, stick to one channel for order fulfillment – either in-store (brick and mortar) or online (ecommerce). Some of these companies provide a way for customers to order via phone, but some do not.
Where Multichannel refers to more than one channel, this has been superseded by OmniChannel, the aim of which is to be Omnipresent using a combination of multiple channels for processing orders.
Why is an Omnichannel Retailing Strategy Critical for Success?
If you choose to sell either on or offline, you are likely to make sales. You may even be successful. But, there’s one fact you can’t avoid: Companies with an optimized omnichannel strategy retain 89% of their customers, generating repeat sales, while those without have an average retention rate of only 33%.
Multi-channel sales will improve your retention rate, making you more successful.
Which Additional Channels Should You Sell On?
Omnichannel means to sell on multiple channels, but which channel is right for you? If you’re already brick and mortar, it’s probably time to add ecommerce.
If you already have an online store, and you don’t want to open a brick-and-mortar shop you can start sales across other online channels.
By leveraging more than one online channel for sales, you can piggyback off the traffic you receive from either avenue; this will increase your chances of earning higher revenue from your ventures.
One popular omnichannel option is brick-and-mortar paired with branded website sales. 56% of business owners have a physical store and 34% sell products through their own online store hosted on an ecommerce platform (PrestaShop, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, etc.). Most big-box retailers choose this route.
When it comes to retail window display ideas, making attractive and attention-grabbing window displays is very important. Consider incorporating seasonal or thematic displays that not only resonate with your target audience but also match the seasonal theme of your website.
Target’s in-store pick-up for online purchases is popular. If you go to their website, you can choose the in-store pick-up option to see what’s available at your nearest store.
This is a great tactic to implement if you’re looking to appeal to local shoppers.
Social media is becoming a hub for commerce, especially when customers can interact directly with a brand or individual retailer. Facebook allows you to use shopping tabs as well as groups to sell products.
Lularoe and other direct sales companies encourage their representatives to host parties and place orders through Facebook groups.
Macy’s allows customers to place orders via phone. It’s helpful, if you use this tactic, to provide shoppers with a catalog, either on or offline.
Other sales channel options, though somewhat less popular, are email, text message, and door-to-door order processing. Choose the channels that work best with your business structure.
How Can You Easily Implement Omnichannel Tactics in Your Business Strategy?
When you’re ready to take the plunge, exploring multi-channel retail options, one critical point of your strategy will be automation. 20% of business executives report 15% or greater financial savings with process automation.
If you want to be able to juggle all of the technicalities of monitoring storage, sales, and logistics across more than one channel at a time, you need to put some of your operations on auto-pilot. Project documentation can be helpful to ensure your team is aligned on your progress at every stage. Luckily, modern digital tools make this simple.
Which processes will you need to automate?
- Product storage/ shipment
- Warehouse supply
- Inventory management & inventory tracking
- Wholesale relationship management
- Sales and order fulfillment
- POS card systems
- Online shopping cart
- Carrier monitoring/ rating
- Packing and packaging selection
- Tracking and delivery updates
Product Storage and Inventory Management Automation
To keep track of your available products, receive a notification when you need to order more, and allow shoppers to see when your stock is low, you need to integrate stock management across all channels.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through an inventory management app on your website, wherein the offline checkout process is connected. Most ecommerce platforms will have easy-to-install plugins or addons to simplify the launch of new inventory management operations.
You will need to upload all of your inventory into the app dashboard. When using various software options, it’s important to make sure that your platforms are compatible with one another.
Your inventory management app will keep track of the number of products you have in stock. But, you’ll have to maintain a strong relationship with wholesale/ manufacturing distributors to ensure that you can maintain a steady supply.
Unfortunately, you don’t have control over which wholesaler communications processes can be automated, but you can explore many of the services provided by contemporary dropship suppliers if this is in alignment with your retail business model.
If you choose a drop shipping partner like Oberlo, sales are almost completely computerized, and you aren’t required to leverage or pay for a warehouse to store your products – you can instead order on-demand.
Sales and Fulfillment Automation
Brick and mortar sales are going to be much more manual than those that take place online. Telephone orders even require some level of “hands-on” fulfillment. But, with the right tools, you can automate many of your human operations with software.
Besides, with the availability of 3PL fulfillment nowadays, inventory management, logistics, or fulfillment operations shouldn’t bother you by any means.
Connect your in-store and telephone sales by giving your salespeople access to your eCommerce dashboard.
Once given access, your salesperson can then access your inventory from the website dashboard each time a sale is made. Your POS payment system should be set up through your eCommerce platform to streamline the process.
Logistics and Shipment Tracking Automation
Like with your storage and sales systems, you want to integrate your logistics software with your eCommerce platform. The easiest way to do this is to choose an up-to-date Transportation Management System (TMS) from your eCommerce platform’s plugin or add-on options.
A powerful TMS platform will provide you with everything you need to provide customers with an optimized, branded experience of your brand. You can proactively inform shoppers of the status of their orders and give them control over post-purchase aspects of their buying experience.
A TMS isn’t just for customers, though, as it will provide you with valuable insights about the best carriers, packaging materials, and more. ShipHawk’s TMS 2.0 Buyer’s Guide can help you make an informed decision about what you need in logistics software.
As a modern-day retailer, you need to leverage multiple channels for sales because it will improve your chances of running a successful business. Add omnichannel tactics to your strategy by implementing automation for storage, sales, fulfillment, and logistics.
You aren’t limited to a website and a brick-and-mortar shop. Rather, you can sell products on sites like eBay and Amazon to power your sales even further. For more valuable insights, subscribe to the OptiMonk newsletter.
About the author
Ashley Kimler has been helping all-sized businesses with their digital marketing for the past decade. She now works with Heroic Search in Tulsa. If you’d like to follow along to see what she and her team get into next, follow @ashleykimler on Twitter.