Retailers are juggling so many channels that it is turning into a circus act of trying to please everyone all the time. The channel-centric approach is expensive, difficult to achieve, and in many cases, only puts you on par with the competition, not above and beyond. Getting stuck in channel-centric thinking can be detrimental to a brand.
It’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture: It’s all just commerce.
Bending over backwards to be all things to all people will eventually lead to diluting your efforts by nurturing channels your customers may not value. Instead of pleasing everyone you risk being irrelevant across channels.
In the end, from the customer’s perspective, shopping is just shopping. The only difference is they are using multiple tools and paths to complete the purchase.
Omnichannel blurs lines between channels to deliver a better customer experience. Omnichannel strategies help retailers focus on customers who are your best value now and, in the future, and omnichannel retail best practices will help you achieve the customer engagement you need to build your business.
What are Omnichannel Retail Best Practices?
The goal of omnichannel retail is to provide customers with multiple paths to purchase a product—including using multiple touch points for a single purchase—and to improve customer engagement by giving shoppers a consistent experience across all channels.
Omnichannel retail is about integrating the retail systems used to sell products on the backend to create a seamless customer experience on the front end.
When considering your omnichannel strategy, start with established omnichannel retail best practices.
Five Best Practices for High Performing Omnichannel Retail
Single Stock Pool Inventory Management
A successful omnichannel strategy starts with managing inventory from a single stock pool. This reduces overstocking that comes from multiple channels having their own dedicated stock pool. It also helps reduce the need for safety stock used to ensure that shelves are stocked while also being available for online shoppers.
A single stock pool allows retailers to fulfill sales from any location so the customers can enjoy a consistent buying experience regardless of how the sale originates or ends.
Data Silo Busting
Multiple channels can lead to multiple data collection and storage methods resulting in data silos. Analyzing data from one source will yield limited insights.
Analyzing data from an integrated retail software environment provides analysts with deeper and more accurate insights to help make better decisions and better understand customer needs, preferences and trends. For example, you can not only learn that a display attracted traffic, but also determine if the display resulted in more conversions.
Removing Channel Barriers
Customers don’t think in terms of channels and neither should retailers. Customers no longer “go online” but with smart devices, are online all the time, with customers flipping between an online channel and a physical channel instantly. Online can drive brick and mortar and vice versa.
To match customer behavior, stores should integrate physical and online stores
ERP/POS System Integration
Omnichannel retail can be achieved by integrating core software systems. Even if you only have two channels, integrate them for a seamless customer experience.
Integrating ERP and POS systems allows store operations and back office processes to work together. Integrated mobile POS gives your associates critical information in an instant to help close sales, please customers and ultimately make more money.
Integrating ERP and POS also keeps inventory information timely and accurate, letting associates know if needed stock is available in another location. If stock runs low, alerts can inform associates.
Customer Experience Personalization
Earning and retaining customer loyalty is every retailer’s main priority. Since shoppers can get many of the same products from different retailers, those that communicate to customers on a personal level will shine over the competition. Personalization allows you to showcase your respect for each customer’s business.
Use a loyalty program to gather customer data and use the data to personalize experiences.
In the end, channel-centric strategies are costly, complex and inefficient. Omnichannel retail integrates software systems to increase customer loyalty, build sales and boost profits. By following omnichannel retail best practices, retailers can start their own journey to rising above and beyond the competition, and get out of the channel-management circus.