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Omnichannel Retailing – the Survivors’ Choice

22 minute read

Why Omnichannel Retail is a Smart Strategy for Small and Medium Businesses

The way that omnichannel retailing works can be revolutionary for businesses, especially small and medium businesses who have struggled to compete with big name brands online. Here’s what you need to know to turn this new retailing tool into a win for your brand.

The statistics show that more than half of all Americans prefer to shop online, which is something that many small and medium businesses have taken advantage of in the past decade. Many, if not most, startups these days do not have a physical storefront to start with, choosing instead to focus on the majority’s preference. However, there is still a large portion of shoppers that prefer to spend in stores, and studies show that even among those who shop mostly online, shoppers spend more money in stores than through digital channels.

Additionally, a study by HBR showed that customers who shop with one brand through multiple channels – spend an average of 4% more at every transaction in a store, and 10% more at every online transaction, than single-channel shoppers. And the study further showed that the more channels a customer uses, the more likely they are to spend even more. Finally, the study showed that omnichannel shoppers log almost 23% more return trips to the brand’s channels in a six-month period than single-channel shoppers.

As you can see, omnichannel shopping does a few things. First, it allows brands to cater to all shoppers, not just the slim majority. Second, it boosts customer loyalty and leads to larger transactions. For small and medium businesses, building brand loyalty and gaining repeat customers is one of the most important first steps in scaling a business, and omnichannel retailing can help make that happen.

What you need to know when creating omnichannel?

Choose the right technology
Shop, website and mobile environment cannot be standalone boxes, which they have been for the most part so far. Omnichannel approach is the antipode to a big unpleasant corporation, where everyone sits in their tower and cubicle.

A smooth and seamless interchanging has to ensure a good shopping experience in different channels – either in a shop, online or on your mobile phone. In short, those shopping online should get as good an experience as those visiting the physical shop. For example, a brick-and-mortar store can offer home delivery service, same as the online shop.

Use the phone
According to an IBM survey, shoppers want to use their mobile phones in brick-and-mortar shops as well, to pay the bill or get information about products and discounts. Also, personalized offers are expected.
Even if a small shop doesn’t have a specialized mobile app, there are simple ways for creating omnichannel.

Three steps for including the smartphone:
1st step – web page has to work on the mobile.
2nd step – digital discount coupons on the phone (e.g. QR-codes), that can be used in the physical shop.
3rd step – go visual! The visuals and logos must be uniform in all the channels, with clear colors and clearly recognizable design. Hire a professional photographer to get good photos. Offer 360-degree visuals with zoomable details of the product.

How to Make Omnichannel Retail Happen

Learning what omnichannel retailing is, and how it can help your small or medium business grow, is one thing. But putting it into action is another. Here are a few real-life examples of how it’s being introduced to customers by big names already:

  • Customers who sign in to an account with Crate & Barrel’s online store will have their browsing history and cart history saved so that they can move seamlessly to a mobile device without having to start their search all over.
  • Starbucks customers who use the rewards program can monitor or reload their card balance across all platforms. The balance is updated and synced in real-time, so any device will always show the proper amount, and the mobile app also allows customers to pay when in the store without needing their rewards card on hand.
  • Chipotle allows customers to not only order from a mobile device for pick up but also lets users with an account save their ordering history so that they can easily re-order their favorites. All of these features can be accessed on the desktop site as well.

These examples show just one narrow part of each of these brands’ omnichannel strategy.

These are the main elements to consider when getting started with your own:

  • Can you sell on more channels? For example, if you are already selling on a website, in a brick and mortar store, and through a mobile app, how else can you reach customers?
  • Next, it’s time to get your channels working together as a single ecosystem. All of your inventory needs to be well-managed so that your channels are in sync with availability, for example. Be sure that your retail software is equipped for handling multiple channels.

Thank you!

You will be contacted by an Erply consultant soon.

Start managing your inventory with Erply, contact us today!