Most small business owners understand why they should invest in an online presence for their business. Even for a small local store, online offers many benefits. Providing greater visibility to consumers who, when looking for a product or service tend to always search online first.
An omnichannel SME however, is so much more than being a brick-and-mortar store with a website and a couple of social media platforms.
What is an omnichannel?
An omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that aims to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. Regardless of whether they are shopping online from mobile or desktop devices, by telephone or in a brick-and-mortar store the customer experience should be comparable.
The omnichannel retail experience is the ease of a unified shopping event via all sales channels. Sales, marketing, payment methods and returns processes should be integrated and congruent across all channels. In plain English, omnichannel is multiple channels, offering one cohesive experience.
Whether shopping from a smartphone, desktop or brick-and-mortar store, an omnichannel SME will create the same experience across all their sales channels and platforms.
For small business enterprises, it has never been easier to develop an online omnichannel strategy because online eCommerce has a relatively low barrier to entry. To reap the greatest value from online activities SMEs need to integrate the physical and the digital, including website and social media platforms into an omnichannel approach.
There are numerous ways to bridge the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and digital retail channels. The simplest way, however, is to implement an online inventory management system to provide your customer with the best experiences.
Online inventory management gives SMEs a single view of stock availability across multiple store locations and sales channels. This single inventory stock portal can be accessible to all sales staff across all outlets, ensuring availability to meet demand.
What this means is that omnichannel retailing gives your customers the ability to purchase an item from your mobile app, can collect it from your store and if necessary, process a return via your website.
By integrating physical and digital stores, SMEs can give customers an all-in-one shopping experience.
The benefits of becoming an omnichannel SME
Today’s digitally savvy shoppers have little patience for fragmented shopping experiences. So, by centralising your view of inventory stock, using online inventory management tools you can gain a holistic view of product availability in real time.
Even without an online store, business owners can reap the benefits of being an omnichannel SME because in an omnichannel SME, the different channels support one another. For example, a social media platform may increase website traffic, which in turn can generate foot traffic to the physical store.
An omnichannel approach also facilitates better inventory management with the real-time visibility of inventory stock across all your sales channels meaning there is less chance of overselling.
Using a single inventory management system for your omnichannel means you can stay on top of orders and inventory stock with minimal worry. When an item sells out in your physical store, that item will also be marked as ‘sold-out’ on your online channels.
Additionally, the data from your online inventory management system facilitates better forecasting to help balance inventory stock with future demand.
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.