An omnichannel business is one that is everywhere and able to reach everybody. What does this mean though? It means the businesses has multiple store locations, be it a brick-and-mortar shop, an online store, an app or maybe a stand at trade shows or a market. The omnichannel strategy for a small business can be extremely effective in building custom, expanding the reach and growing revenue. However, it is a complex beast that can be complicated to implement and manage effectively for optimum results. Let us take a look at some hurdles and strategies small businesses can consider to best manage their omnichannel profile.
Financials of multiple ‘store fronts’
There are no two ways about it. Trying to exist across an array of arenas can be complicated and create a myriad of issues. It is very costly to boot. However, investing in the effective running of multiple ‘store fronts’ (including the website, app and physical shop) through the employment of more staff or systems can be well-worth the money spent. Forty five percent of businesses were not happy with their return on investment for their omnichannel strategy with findings that effective strategies require all interfaces to work seamlessly together; and if done so, there is a 70% predicted rate of customer return. Macy’s, a large retailer, experienced a 1.8% increase in revenue in a single quarter alone with the effective use of an omnichannel strategy. There is no doubt, there is money to be made. Will you invest and get behind it?
Suppose in the traditional brick-and-mortar store, there were multiple sales representatives selling product with no regard of what others were selling or what inventory remained in the warehouse. Eventually, the inventory will run out, the customers will be let-down and feel disappointed and the company will be in a dicey position. This can be solved through a centralised system where stock is tracked from the warehouse to the point-of-sale, inventory levels are constantly updated and everyone is happy. This is inventory management in its purest form and it must be prioritised for an effective omnichannel strategy. It is important that the warehouse is run where sales input is current and accurate from all platforms, be it the website, the app or the checkout counter. If this process runs smoothly, then it is far easier to manage the warehouse so that no customer is ever turned away empty-handed.
Deeper knowledge and understanding
The key to ‘omnichannel’ is being ever-present wherever the customer might be or look. So how do you do this? Through the analysis of meaningful data to predict customer buying preferences. This is also an aspect of sales and inventory management and can be a powerful tool turning even the slightest of interest or need into a sale and guaranteed future loyalty. When the customer’s attention is harnessed, it is important to make the experience personable and genuine, one they will not soon forget. In a world where every way we look, we see and hear noise and facades, sincerity and meaningful interactions have more of a place than ever before. This may not necessarily mean big conversations when the customer is in a rush and simply needs the product quickly. But instead, it means understanding whatever need they have and endeavouring to meet it head-on with efficiency.
Reward loyalty and build relationships
Once you have a customer’s attention and loyalty, it is so important to show gratitude for that and provide rewards for their custom. This can be through exclusive clubs and special offers provided to those members. Customers love the feeling of being valued and part of something elite and exclusive and will undoubtedly respond positively. With reward systems however, it is imperative to ensure they are easy and seamless to use by digitising them. Rifling through wallets for a bland-coloured reward-card is a thing of the past. Being able to walk up to a counter citing a phone number or enter a single password and have all purchase history and reward entitlements available ensures the customer experience is efficient and sends the message that their time is valued.
In some ways, the implementation of an omnichannel strategy should not be rocket-science and is simply about making sure each platform establishes a rapport with customers, is accessible, accurate and efficient. Achieving these simple notions can be tricky however and require considered attention and focus. A tool to facilitate this is inventory management software, which really must support all processes from the back-end.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.