Omnichannel retailing (giving customers a consistent shopping experience no matter where or how they’re shopping) is the goal for most retailers today. If you’ve talked with retailers about the importance of investing in an omnichannel migration, you’ve probably met some skepticism and pushback. Sure, prices for omnichannel solutions have dropped, and the technology has become easier than ever to implement, but it still might be beyond the budget of SMB merchants struggling to stay in business.
Still, omnichannel benefits (engaged customers, reduced expenses, increased sales) are real and worth pursuing. Luckily, you can deliver pieces of an omnichannel solution in more affordable increments. Following are just a few examples. As you’ll see, each is related to the other, and each will move your customers one step closer to omnichannel.
Get an e-commerce presence—Most SMB retailers have a poor website if any at all. To compete with Amazon and other online retailers, merchants must not only have a site, but it must incorporate e-commerce capabilities.
Make inventory synchronized and visible across all channels—A key component of omnichannel commerce is taking siloed inventory data (e.g., in-store and e-commerce) and getting it into a single database so customers and store associates have real-time information on the location and quantities of available merchandise. Most retailers lack this functionality today. Migrating your customers to a single inventory management system is one option. Another is getting separate databases communicating with middleware. In either case, customers will be happy to be able to access accurate inventory levels no matter where they shop.
Build a customer database—Chances are, your clients’ customer databases are basic, if not nonexistent. Omnichannel retailing incorporates a powerful CRM and marketing component. Ideally, retailers should collect data on past purchases, shopping patterns and other information across all channels that can later be used for analysis.
Embrace analytics—Analytics is critical for understanding shopping behaviors across both e-commerce and physical locations. By tapping into sales figures across all channels and digging into a customer database, a retailer can realize behaviors, create effective marketing strategies and determine how to increase sales.
Get marketing—Email campaigns, stand-alone apps and social media are just a few ways retailers can increase sales. Armed with information on existing customer behaviors and preferences, retailers can create compelling campaigns that show tangible results.
If these initiatives are rolled out one at a time and used efficiently, your customers should see enough positive results from each one to justify the next investment. Wondering where to begin with a specific customer? Contact Ingram Micro’s DC/POS expert, Tom Jones, for assistance.