Winning in Omnichannel

GregEighty-seven percent of retailers say having omnichannel plans is important to their success, but only eight percent feel they’ve mastered it. Consider these three best practices to help build out your omnichannel presence in 2018. By Greg Lisiewski

Small and midsized retailers understand the importance of having a strong omnichannel strategy, but for many getting started is the real challenge. A recent study found that 87 percent of all retailers view omnichannel plans as either critical or very important to their success, but only 8 percent feel they’ve mastered it. Additionally, just 12 percent believe they have the right technology in place.

Without question, large retailers have the advantage of resources. They can create a team focused on executing a robust omnichannel strategy. With less time and financial resources, it is easy for small to medium businesses to feel overwhelmed. The good news is now technology exists to give them the opportunity to quickly and affordably enhance their omnichannel approach and implementation. Consider these three best practices to help build out your omnichannel presence in 2018.

Align the experiences

One mistake many smaller retailers make is not synching up their online and in-person experiences. The store, the site, the app and event booth should “feel” the same so customers are comfortable and familiar with your brand, regardless of channel. It’s key to provide clear understanding of who you are and what you’re about, then presenting that image consistently at all times, in all places.

The outdoor gear and apparel store evo uniquely culls its product assortment presented online and in its flagship store in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The ROI benefits of aligning experiences are clear: According to Nathan Decker, director of eCommerce at evo, omnichannel customers are three times more valuable to them than single channel customers.

Take a “convenience” cue from online

The speed of online shopping really can’t be recreated in a brick-and-mortar store, but there are a number of ways retailers can use the combination of technology and their built-in advantage of face-to-face interaction to improve the experience.

Point-of-sale (POS) technology has given retailers a powerful tool to reduce checkout time. When lines get long, the mobile registers come to the customer. But to really make the most of POS, it’s critical that sales associates are trained to positively interact with customers while they wait. This increases the possibility of enrollment in customer loyalty programs, which will increase sales across all channels.

Another breakthrough in POS is the ability to integrate with fin-tech innovation systems like Clover and Square, which make it much easier for businesses to accept card payments. Additionally, make the most of POS capabilities by choosing those that operate on mobile devices like iPads and Android smartphones.

Enable shoppers with finance options

Countless retail industry reports note order sizes increase when credit is offered. That said, financing options were once a luxury for only larger retailers – no longer. Options are now available for stores of all sizes to allow customers to pay for items incrementally through branded financing.

Using one such option, evo launched a financing tool that saw 120 percent higher transaction values. By providing a payment option that suits customer’s needs, merchants are building loyalty among customers, which will translate into greater revenue online and in-store.

Retailers often tell me that time is one of their most valuable assets, which makes implementing new technology sometimes difficult. Fortunately, many solutions mentioned are designed to deliver robust benefits “out-of-the-box” and can be installed quickly.

For example, Brian Meader, who oversees sales, business development and marketing at Guitar Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas, was looking for that kind of solution for three different channels: in-store, online and at events and shows. He employed a turnkey financing solution that led to average order values of financed purchases that were 100 percent higher than with other payment options.

The opportunity to attract and retain customers through every channel has never been better for small- and mid-sized retailers. By combining your unique differentiators with exciting technology that enhances the customer experience, the opportunity to build a strong omnichannel presence in 2018 is there for the taking.

Greg Lisiewski is the founder and CEO at Blispay.

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