The term omnichannel may not seem synonymous with small business as it alludes to having a presence in multiple locations, with staffing and funding required to support it. In fact, that sounds big, doesn’t it? While this can be true, omnichannel business strategies are in fact extremely beneficial for small businesses and here is why.
Omnichannel ethos: it’s all about the customer
The ethos behind omnichannel business models is to increase the ease of use for the customer, be ever-present, ever-serving and servicing so that their needs are perpetually met in one, cohesive shopping experience. Customers like to have a selection of shopping methods at their disposable which include browsing for items on a mobile-capable website, reading real reviews on Facebook and Instagram, being able to view in real-time which brick-and-mortar stores in their vicinity have stock, purchasing online and then heading to the store to collect their purchase via Click and Collect. All these retail channels need to be seamless and integrative which is the epitome of the term omnichannel.
Low start-up commitment
The omnichannel retail model involves an online component and there has never been a more ideal time for small businesses to get on board. Creating a webstore with payment capabilities that are linked seamlessly to your social media accounts is as simple as deciding on one of the many cloud-based apps. You can add plugins later for whatever you may require and reap the benefits of having a low-cost, fully functional and professional-looking website to capture traffic and convert interest to sales. The benefit of kicking things off in this way is the low start-up cost and the ability to scale your website and commitment as your company grows.
Bigger is not necessarily better
Ironically, bigger is not always better and smaller businesses have a unique advantage. Customers are looking for a shopping experience where efficiency, perpetual fulfilment and 24/7 access to support are important. Of course, the larger a company is, the more difficult it is to provide a customised and personal experience. Therefore, small businesses should take advantage of this new wave of eCommerce and do what they do best: a personalised, efficient, eCommerce strategy.
Spend time identifying trends and building a brand
Research shows that a massive 98% of consumers in the US switch between multiple devices while shopping in a single day.
If you are not endeavouring to meet them wherever they are, you will not stand a chance of capturing all interest and converting it to sales. It is vital to spend time understanding what channels your customers like to frequent and when, so that you can ensure there is a friendly interface waiting for them, whether it be a smiling store clerk or great content on a Facebook page with instant messaging capability.
It is also important to make sure it is easy for customers to switch between different channels. For example, email coupons to use in store as well as coupon codes to enter at checkout in the web store. The sky really is the limit, however, it is vital to remember to have a customer-centric focus and to ensure all channels integrate well.
Start a conversation
A bonus about being small is having the ability to change tact relatively easily based on recommendations or if something is not working. Larger businesses have more decision-makers which render them more adverse to trying new things in an effort to improve outcomes quickly. Make the most of this as a small business owner. Start a conversation with your customers, creating surveys and encouraging constructive feedback that can be pivotal in creating a stellar omnichannel retail experience.
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.