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So, your business strategy is to become an omnichannel retailer… now what? I’ll admit, before I started working in the retail industry, I had no idea what this meant. To me it was just jargon and something that I as an avid shopper thought was irrelevant, as far as I was concerned, if a shop had a website that I could buy stuff from then great. But there’s more to it.

Recently I was browsing in a high-end, high street store and overheard a shopper ask the suited and booted assistant if they had the shoes she wanted in her size available online – they didn’t have them in the store. His answer was that he didn’t know, as they didn’t have visibility of online stock, she’d need to check herself. The shopper walked away, and the store missed out on £230, I couldn’t resist looking at the price tag. In the grand scheme of things, £230 is just a drop in the ocean for this retailer, but imagine if this happened ten times a day, or if you where an independent boutique, where every sale mattered more to you than your competition.

As technology advances, it’s shocking how many retailers still haven’t got basic omnichannel services working, especially businesses who you’d expect to have it nailed on. Argos have done this for years, you could even say they are a pioneer in omnichannel retail, the idea of checking store stock and ordering online was revolutionary to retail and set the trend for click and collect.

Omnichannel retail isn’t just about having an ecommerce website and several shops, it’s making sure that your customers get the same service and options no matter which channel they choose to buy through, including loyalty schemes and gift cards.

“I always receive offers as part of my Debenhams loyalty scheme for money off when I shop online, but I never use it. I don’t want to buy online, I want to go to the shop and look at something first, it annoys me the way that I can’t have money off if I buy in store.” Katrina, Gen X, UK.

What’s the point in having a loyalty scheme that leaves customers feeling undervalued because of the way they choose to shop? Likewise, with gift cards, if retailers sell gift cards in store then they should be redeemable online and vice versa. It’s what shoppers expect.

Going back to the store who don’t have visibility of online stock – why? It’s a must if you want to become a true omnichannel retail player and keep your customers loyal. If the shop assistant was armed with mobile POS or took the shopper to the till to check online stock, then that at least provides the customer with confidence in the store. Alternatively, if they had sold out online, then he should have been able to check stock in other stores and arrange for them to be delivered. If this had happened, then chances are he’d have made the sale.

If you’re serious about becoming an omnichannel retailer, then make sure your retail management system can cope with what you are trying to achieve.

6 Benefits to true omnichannel retailing that will have your competition quivering in their boots…

  1. Treat your retail management system as a tool to facilitate omnichannel initiatives with a real-time, single view of stock, sales and customer data. This will help your shop staff access the data they need, instantly and prevent missed sales.
  2. Many retailers let shoppers view in store stock levels on their website, but not many offer the chance for items to be reserved. By showing your stock levels for each location on your website in real-time and giving customers the opportunity to click and reserve or click and collect will drive footfall to store. Plus, if you can provide them with live status and an accurate pick-up time, they will absolutely love you for it.
  3. Most people buy gift cards because they know the recipient is a fan of the store. By selling and redeeming gift cards both online and in store then you’re likely to increase the amount spent – according to the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association, when redeeming gift cards, 72.1% of consumers spend more than the value on the card.
  4. We don’t like to disappoint customers, but on the occasion when you need to accept a return, having an omnichannel retail system that accepts, and process returns bought online, along with swapping items or part refunds, all in-store then, you’ve got yourself a well-oiled machine.
  5. Telephone ordering is often a forgotten function in today’s retail environment, it’s a bit like McDonalds Fillet-o-fish – seriously, I’ve never seen anyone order one of those. Ever. But phone orders are perfect for clienteling and completing online orders. Having the ability to take orders over the phone even when the card holder isn’t present is perfect for helping customer service finish an ecommerce order or taking payment for a purchase for delivery from store.
  6. Deliver value to customers by offering an omnichannel loyalty programme or membership scheme that utilises dynamic reporting to optimise your programmes and schemes. Making loyalty easy and accessible to all. keeping you one step ahead of the competition and your customers loving you and ultimately buying from you.

Are you ready for the omnichannel journey? Download the free RetailStore platform brochure to find out how you can delight your customers.

Debenhams loyalty quote taken from conversation with Baby Boomer and Gen X group, 8th December 2018.

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