At Veeqo, we’re big fans of omnichannel retailing. Omnichannel is where retailers sell through both a bricks-and-mortar shop and an online store, as well as via other channels such as telephone mail order.
This combination of digital and physical reflects our daily lives, bridging the internet and the real world. We believe it’s the future of retail.
An omnichannel approach has many advantages over single channel retailing. In this article, we explore what makes omnichannel so powerful. What are the key advantages of going omnichannel?
1. Access More Customers. Digital natives who were born into a world with the internet and mobile phones all around them are coming of age as consumers. These are people who can’t imagine life without the internet, and who rely on their smartphones for everything, including shopping.
On the other hand, silver surfers still struggle to trust online retailers, and many older people prefer to shop in a bricks and mortar store.
Then there’s a whole range of people in between these two – including those who prefer to speak to a customer service agent on the phone before placing an order.
Omnichannel retailing allows you to meet the needs of all these people, keeping your customer base as broad as possible.
2. Improve Your Market Research. One of the biggest challenges faced by traditional market research is the disparity between what consumers say they want, and what they actually want. Online retailers have the benefit of being able to split test to gather genuine insights about what customers want.
On the other hand, online retailers can find it difficult to engage with customers on their own terms. If you don’t speak the language your customers use, then your website copy can end up being filled with industry jargon rather than focused on customer needs. Having daily real-life conversations with customers helps to keep things real.
3. Shoppers Love Omnichannel. And for good reason. Who hasn’t turned to their smartphone to check online prices immediately after seeing something they liked in a real life shop?
This practice is called showrooming, and like it or not, it’s here to stay. Having an online and real-world presence allows you to make the most of showrooming rather than becoming the victim of price-savvy shoppers.
4. Better Customer Relationships. There’s nothing like face-to-face customer service for establishing the best possible relationship with your customers. We all enjoy being in the safe hands of an experienced sales assistant.
On the other hand, online retailers have the benefit of being able to offer customers a more personalised experience, for example by sending personalised emails, or having a personalised recommendations engine.
In the very near future, these two elements of personalisation will combine, giving omnichannel retailers a big advantage. Motorola estimates that by 2017, 80% of bricks and mortar shops will have in-store WiFi for customers. These WiFi networks will provide valuable data on customer loyalty, by tracking who comes in store at what time.
More importantly, they will improve the experience of customers. For example, a deli could use their WiFi network to replace ticketing. Instead of a ticket system, stores could send push notifications to customer smartphones, alerting them that their order is ready. Or a supermarket could use their WiFi network to send shoppers personalised today-only offers while they’re in store.
5. Turbocharge Your SEO. Nearly a quarter of Google searches are local, meaning the searcher is looking for something in their area. Google is closely watching this trend, and they’re strongly leaning towards giving local businesses an SEO boost. Already if your business is listed in Google Places, you have a far better chance of appearing on the first page of search results.
Having a physical address can help more people discover your online address through search.
Omnichannel Isn’t All Roses
Managing an omnichannel retail business comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest is inventory and order management. How do you keep track of stock when you’re selling through so many different channels?
Poor stock management can mean you end up turning away customers when there’s stock ready to order in your warehouse. Worse, it can mean reneging on customer orders after discovering you’ve no stock to ship.
That’s where Veeqo comes in – with our intentionally built omnichannel order management system. We help you manage your stock, orders and fulfillment across a range of channels, including online and retail.
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Written by David Masters
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