20 Future of Retail — Omnichannel

issue 03

on such a large scale. In the context of an increasingly data-and customer-driven industry, this can leave SMBs leagues behind their bigger competitors. Fortunately, big data is no longer reserved for

big companies. New and affordable omnichannel technologies allow retailers, regardless of budget or technical capabilities, to gather customer data across platforms and create data-driven loyalty programmes. SMBs can use cross-channel data to track customer behaviour throughout the entire customer journey, from the very fi rst point of contact with their brand to the moment they buy a product or service. For instance, a customer may send a brand a message on social media, enter their email address on the company website to receive the brand’s newsletter and fi nally purchase items in store. As a retailer, you need to capture your customers’ information at every interaction so you can adapt your marketing and offering to your customers’ behaviour. What’s more, establishing a strong and consistent

brand experience across all sales touch points is as vital for increasing their customer retention rate as it is attracting new customers. Think about it. Customers expect consistency – they expect to “live” the same brand experience at every interaction with a brand, whether they’re browsing an online store, shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store or even scrolling through a social media profi le. Brand consistency helps set customers’ expectations, strengthen the overall image of a brand and build trust with existing customers. And as you continue to deliver consistent experience, your customers’ trust in your brand will grow over time.

BECOME MORE PROFITABLE THAN EVER BEFORE To increase profi ts and grow, small businesses need to understand the ins and outs of their entire business, from their inventory levels and cash fl ow to their sales and customer buying behaviour. They should start by treating every aspect of their business as one part of a whole. This means centralising back-end processes and reporting. Using new technology that interconnects multiple

sales channels is essential for getting a holistic view of a business, avoiding costly pitfalls and making profi ts. With a centralised inventory and order management system, business owners can view their stock levels for their online and bricks-and-mortar stores in real-time and ensure that customers see up-to-date stock availability at any given time. This helps business owners avoid overages and overselling – two burdens that cost UK

businesses millions – as they have the insight they need to replenish stock where needed. When it comes to reporting, omnichannel technology

groups together important business data from various sources into one place. This allows small businesses to better understand how their business is performing as a whole. Omnichannel data reports (e.g. sales fi gures, employee sales) allow small business owners to pinpoint any weaknesses or strengths in their business’s performance and act by either changing tack or repeating successes. Additionally, by giving shoppers more choice

about where to shop, small omnichannel businesses can capitalise on modern consumer behaviour and signifi cantly increase their bottom line. John Lewis, considered as one of the UK’s most successful examples of omnichannel retailing, found that customers who shopped using more than one device spend up to three times more than those who don’t. Omnichannel can therefore help SMBs make more profi t not only by allowing SMBs to reach customers across platforms, but also by offering them ease and convenience, which encourages them to spend more.

OMNICHANNEL IS VITAL FOR SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS The rise of the omnichannel shopper has created a whole host of challenges for today’s independent retailers. However, with a sound omnichannel strategy and modern technology, these businesses can rise to the challenge and cater to 21st-century shopping needs.

Omnichannel is now anyone’s game.

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