Connect with retail customers on multiple channels

by | Nov 1, 2016

Customers want more and more shopping options, whether it’s online, in-store or, in the case of “buy online pickup in store” (BOPIS), both. We are living in an omnichannel world and the retailers and suppliers who learn how to harness its power will lead. With so many different channels available, though, it’s important to not only be where your customers want to be and have what they want to buy, it’s also a matter of maintaining your brand presence throughout, whether it’s your website, social media, email, mobile apps or a wide range of other channels.

Omnichannel retail is an approach to creating a seamless consumer experience through all available shopping channels, including mobile apps, desktop computers, brick-and-mortar stores, television, digital ads, printed catalogs and so on. With a successful omnichannel approach, people familiar with your brand can identify your properties and collateral readily and know what to expect when they place an order online or receive a package from you. For new customers, your approach sets their expectations for future transactions – for better or for worse, depending on how well you fulfill on your promises.

It’s a lot of work and a lot of attention to detail to maintain a consistent tone, look and feel across all of your assets, including stores, websites, social, apps, digital ads, email and more. The effort is worth it, though, as 47% of retailers supporting an omnichannel strategy reported that multichannel shoppers are more profitable than single channel shoppers.

Omnichannel retail is transforming rapidly, too, with new ways to buy products seemingly popping up every week. Recently, Facebook introduced ads that only run when a retailer has the inventory and messenger bots that do some pretty amazing things to entice people to make a purchase. Mobile apps for retailers, suppliers, even coffee houses and restaurants alike have made ordering items and checkout a breeze. Last year, Amazon went a step further and introduced the dash button, a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite frequently used domestic products with simply the press of a button. More and more stores offer curbside pick-up, and just last week it was announced that retailers can order Ubers to drop customers off at their store.

With all that to complete with, there’s a lot of pressure to try to be everywhere and offer every service to reach your customers and prospects. You don’t have to be everything to everyone, just aim for the people who are the most likely to have a need for your products and services, then make them happy by fulfilling on your promises. Make it as easy as possible for customers to get your products, whether the customer buys it from a brick-and-mortar store or a orders it online to be drop shipped to their home.

Thankfully there are tools and technology available to help retailers better serve their omnichannel customers. A successful strategy requires at least six key components:

  • Fulfillment – When a customer orders something online to be delivered to their home or shipped to their local store, it happens in a timely, accurate manner. The retailer may fulfill the order, or they may have a supplier do it for them, but either way, the transaction from order to delivery is seamless.
  • Sourcing – Retailers can easily discover and enable new partners with new products quickly and efficiently, within hours or days, as opposed to the weeks and months it used to take. Online retail moves very fast and adding new vendors for fulfillment is one way to keep up.
  • Community – Optimize your supplier community network and reward your best performers. Identify poor performers and try to advance their performance. If you need to find a new supplier, ensure rapid compliance with proven and time-tested community development strategies.
  • Assortment – Meet consumers’ growing demand to access more products. E-commerce retailers with the right tools can add products and SKUs with minimal effort, simply by adding new vendors to their supply chain operations.
  • Analytics – Uncover the actionable insights you need to optimize inventory and trading partner performance using data analytics. Identify potential product gaps, discover detect buying patterns, keep accurate inventory information and more.
  • Communication – And lots of it, instant and automatic, between the retailer, the supplier, the carrier and the customer. The retailer communicates the order to the supplier who sends it to the customer through the carrier. The customer also wants to be able to track the order, from when it left the warehouse to when the status changes to “delivered.”

Omnichannel retail has already had a huge effect on retail and its going to continue to be a huge factor going forward as technology gives customers more and more different ways to buy products. Set up your retail organization to take advantage of the promising era of omnichannel business with the right tools and technology.

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Sara Duane

Sara Duane

Content Marketing Manager at SPS Commerce
Sara Duane is a content expert for the SPS Commerce marketing team. She provides valuable articles and important information about e-commerce, merchandising strategies, order fulfillment and other topics related to retail supply chain optimization.
Sara Duane

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