Vendor Selection: Take the Holistic Approach
- determine who your customers are and how to market to them;
- assess your business, which products sell, when and at what price points;
- measure the success of promotions and loyalty programs;
- evaluate the success of search engine optimization, search engine marketing, catalog, print and other advertising;
- manage customer orders, fulfillment, customer satisfaction; and
- track inventory in your stores, online and your warehouse.
These bullet points relate to your whole business, not to just one channel. Any technology or service provider looking at your data from a strictly online perspective is doing you and your business a disservice, which will cost you.
A big challenge is integrating data from legacy systems and avoiding duplicate data entry. One option is to treat your online store as just another store in the chain. Have the same files from your point of service feed your online store; have your online sales data feed your enterprise resource planning system.
Vendors you're considering should provide the easiest ways to integrate and access your data in real time and online to give you a clear competitive advantage.
The right provider proactively thinks about how it can work across all your channels for each online solution. Here are some examples of expanding the effectiveness of online technologies.
Social networking is booming, with more retailers incorporating this technology into their web stores, and an increasing number of vendors moving into the space. Smart marketers ensure the social networking solutions they select encompass their multichannel businesses. Why should the advice and information be sourced from only online shoppers? Opinions on products — whether purchased online, from a catalog, over the phone or in a store — are all valuable and should be incorporated.
Mobile commerce is another way to drive business to all channels. It has many uses beyond selling products: allowing users to comparison shop, find nearby store locations or receive promotions. The ideal vendor presents the best ways for you to maximize mobile technology.