Effective Omnichannel Management: The 4 Basic Building Blocks to Success
As a retailer, you have one goal: growth. Many retailers turn to omnichannel to provide more opportunities for shoppers to purchase, but are challenged to offer a cohesive experience that brings them all together. Without the proper tools and insights, omnichannel selling is often a messy, time-consuming, overwhelming endeavor. Furthermore, if done poorly, it will yield the opposite of the desired result — i.e., unhappy customers and a diminishing bottom line.
Effective, profitable omnichannel management is built on four basic building blocks: centralized product information management, customer experience management, an integrated supply chain, and business performance insights. Keeping these pillars in mind, retailers can focus on key tasks that will make their omnichannel sales strategy a long-term success:
1. Centralized product information: Most ERP and point-of-sales systems weren't designed to handle detailed product attribute data, which is necessary to be found and to sell online. To effectively manage products and, most importantly, their attributes, it's important to implement a single, integrated product catalog that represents one version of the truth for all of your product data. This ensures each channel always has accurate, up-to-date and complete product information, and allows shoppers to search and filter items to easily find what they want.
2. Customer experience management: The impression you leave with customers is highly dependent on what happens AFTER they hit the "submit order" button. They worry about convenience, speed of delivery, order accuracy, status updates, etc. By intelligently routing orders to the appropriate order fulfillment system or third party, retailers can promise faster time-to-ship without errors, communicate with buyers, and support flexible delivery options such as buy online, pick up in-store and flexible return options.
3. Integrated supply chain: Tight integration with suppliers enables real-time operations and better inventory efficiencies. As items are sold in any channel, retailers can drop-ship the item from the most logical supplier based on inventory availability, geography or price to provide quick delivery without ever carrying the inventory themselves.
4. Business performance insights: Monitor your data as it comes in. When inventory, customer and order information is visible in a single location, you can make insightful business decisions and provide reliable, immediate service to your customers.
Omnichannel selling is a fact of life in today's retail environment. Getting a handle on it doesn't have to be intimidating. In fact, upgrading your operations to effectively sell across more channels is hands-down one of the smartest business moves you'll ever make. Managing your omnichannel operations more efficiently means you'll be able to enjoy greater market penetration by adding new channels seamlessly. Whether it's more physical stores or additional online marketplaces, once the proper systems are in place, you're ready for growth and able to achieve it.
Steve Weber is the president and CEO of nChannel, a provider of omnichannel management software that simplifies selling for retailers of all sizes.