Five Success Factors for Omnichannel Merchandisers
Retailers seem to excel in the omnichannel market when they can seamlessly manage inventory, product information, and which products are presented to which channels at what time. While they may operate in different industries, those who are most successful provide excellent customer service no matter where the customer is purchasing.
1. Channel Strategy. Each channel, whether it be your website, mobile, eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, or offline, have very different customers, customer shopping behaviors, customer preferences, not to mention unique selling requirements. You will want to make sure you are selling products that match the buyers in each channel and your margins will support the prices and shipping expense of selling those products. As you begin to develop your channel strategy, you will find that merchandising your products on more than one channel can be very time consuming and complex. To make your life a bit easier, utilize a central omnichannel system containing a database of all your product information in order to create channel-specific product listings more easily from the information you already have.
2. Shared Inventory Capabilities. Merchandising the same products on more than one channel requires shared inventory capabilities. You may want to sell a product on Amazon and eBay to increase your chances of selling or to sell products quicker. To do this, you must accurately manage inventory that is shared between Amazon and eBay. When inventory levels fall to zero on Amazon, you do not want the product to still appear for sale on eBay. To avoid cancellations and overselling, utilize a omnichannel ecommerce system that will automatically update your shared inventory levels in real-time. This also reduces errors that occur while manually tracking inventory and allows you to react quickly to fluctuations in inventory.
3. Consolidated Purchasing. As you manage shared inventory across your channels, you may find you want to purchase more stock before inventory levels reach zero in order to avoid out-of-stocks. To increase your purchasing power, consolidate purchasing by waiting to send one large purchase order for inventory across your channels, instead of individual purchase orders for each channel. This will help you receive better pricing, improve efficiency with warehouse operations, while reducing shipping and transportation costs due to consolidated shipments. This is real savings that you can pass on to your customers and your bottom line.
4. Channel Promotion. Creating attractive merchandising options on each of your channels requires targeted promotions. Consider holiday-specific promotions on gift items, location-specific promotions, or bundling products during certain times of the year. Experiment with free shipping or expedited shipping. Keep in mind; although you may run unique promotions for unrelated products on different channels, customers will expect consistency for products they can buy on more than one channel.
5. Omnichannel Shopping Experience. Driving home what I mentioned in the top 4 success factors, customers shopping online and in-store expect consistent product offerings. A customer browsing your products online will want to see the same promotions, pricing, loyalty programs, and product selection in store. When this information is located in multiple, disconnected systems, you spend most of your time finding, managing, and reentering. Look for a central system that will consolidate product, data, inventory and customer information and automate data transfer between other systems.