Although the word omnichannel is often used in retail, it is a term that is often misunderstood. Here is an explanation of what omnichannel means, how it works, and how it can help you increase your profits.
1. What is a retail sales channel?
Sales channels refer to every different method used by retailers to sell their products to customers. Sales channels go beyond brick & mortar stores. Other sales channels could be events, trade shows, resellers, dealers, curbside pickup, and on-the-go pickup. Additionally, sales channels can also include social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok), SMS, instant messaging, and even Google Ads.
Most retailers start off selling on a single channel. This can be a physical brick and mortar store or an online only webstore. Prior to the pandemic, an increasing number of retailers have started to add new sales channels to their businesses as shoppers now expect to be able to shop and pre-shop in more than one place.
2. What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel is a fully-integrated retail experience for shoppers. So when omnichannel works, it means customers will have the same experience no matter which sales channel they use. A customer who buys products from a brick & mortar store should have the same experience as one who uses social media channels to buy products. This is the ideal outcome for a successful omnichannel retail business.
What many retailers aren’t as familiar with, is that retailers must use a system that can share sales, inventory, and customer information (data) across all sales channels to be able to offer omnichannel retail. This means handling all store sales and fulfillment of online orders under a single login. In particular, omnichannel systems make store-managed e-commerce such as “buy online pickup in-store” a lot more efficient.
A successful system handles data for sales, inventory and customer information across all brick & mortar stores, online storefronts, ecommerce marketplaces, mobile channels/apps (WhatsApp), and social media commerce (Facebook or Instagram Shop). You should be able to sell to your customers no matter where they shop. In the past, omnichannel systems were expensive and only available to very large retailers. However, today’s modern cloud systems have made it possible for small-to-mid-sized retailers to take advantage of the cost-savings and sales boosting benefits of omnichannel retail.
3. What is the difference between multichannel & omnichannel?
It’s important not to confuse omnichannel with multichannel, despite their similarities. Like omnichannel, multichannel refers to retailers selling to customers through different sales channels. Yet, in a multichannel setup, these channels are not integrated.
Unlike omnichannel, multichannel does not unify the customer experience. And more importantly, multichannel retail costs merchants a lot more money because they need to log into separate tools or channels to manage inventory separately, or see sales and customer history. This is a time-consuming process that can lead to lost sales and errors. It also increases the complexity of your sales and tax management. Additionally, multichannel increases the cost of managing inventory if sales are being fulfilled from the store or the same place.
4. Why is omnichannel retail important?
Omnichannel selling offers a data-driven approach to retail. As stock levels change, you will want to know the product levels in every channel. A good omnichannel system will do this automatically. This means you will never have to manually manage stockouts. A good omnichannel system will also increase sales by highlighting your best customers across all sales channels. It will focus on faster fulfill of every sale, no matter where the sale originates.
Omnichannel systems are increasingly effective at attracting people to brick & mortar locations. They do this by linking to Google to drive foot traffic to stores based on how close nearby shoppers are to available stock. This increases overall profits by increasing in-store and sales conversion rates.
The goal is a memorable and positive experience for your customers. Omnichannel can make this happen.
TAKU Retail can provide you with a comprehensive and integrated omnichannel strategy that will remove friction between channels. Because TAKU is cloud-based, it can function on any device since it’s not tied to any specific type of hardware. This enables you to use any existing web-enabled devices from desktop computers or tablets to smartphones.
TAKU can not only help you increase sales and reduce operational costs, but it can also help you get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes. Click below to find out about other ways TAKU Retail can help you achieve a successful omnichannel system for your business.
Shoppers now expect the perk of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store to be a given. However, you need to consider the operations of your retail business before you can offer BOPIS. Without support from modern retail software, BOPIS runs the risk of decreasing customer satisfaction.
Being able to find exactly what they want at the price point they need will undoubtedly thrill shoppers. However, if the second half of the process falls short of expectations, it will drive customers to search elsewhere and put the business lower on their list of trusted retailers.
1. Accurate inventory information without extra staff
Retail expert Suzanne Sears notes that more and more consumers are feeling confident about returning to in-person shopping. She says “Pent-up savings among consumers, who have greater access to products than services, are making purchases. This has created a demand for work in warehousing, shipping, supply chain, buying, stores, e-commerce, and right on through the entire operation.” This has significantly impacted the search for qualified new hires. Staffing shortages have become a widespread problem. Businesses across North America are not only struggling to find employees but also struggling to keep them around.
Reduced staff means there are fewer employees available to manually track inventory across multiple systems. Understaffed stores cannot handle these challenges, resulting in inventory accuracy as low as 70%. This means that at any given time, nearly a third of inventory stock can be inaccurate. This is especially true with high-traffic or high-inventory stores, many of which are understaffed today. In order to offer BOPIS successfully, retailers will have to invest in a system with real-time inventory across all sales channels. This will let them provide the type of inventory availability accuracy that today’s shoppers expect.
2. Automatically attract more local customers
The best omnichannel systems today will not only help retailers effectively offer Buy Online Pick Up In-Store, they will help them automatically attract more nearby shoppers. Because real-time omnichannel solutions such as TAKU are able to provide reliable, accurate inventory information and real-time stock availability, they are able to connect to local marketing tools to automatically drive more foot traffic in store.
Omnichannel systems such as TAKU help retailers manage all of their inventory across all sales channels with a single, smart product feed . The feed can then be connected to Google Merchant Center and Google My Business. This integration is a built-in feature of TAKU that automatically helps retailers can be found more easily on Google. By plugging their store inventory into a free product showcase called ‘See What’s In Store’, retailers can easily show real-time stock availability in store. Where before large retailers would need to hire agencies or staff to upload products into Google manually, modern omnichannel systems are able to do this without any data entry and stock levels update instantly as you sell in-store or online.
The retail market is increasingly competitive, retailers need proper inventory management to compete. A system that automatically updates all stock quantity info right away (no matter where or when the sale takes place) is essential. That is why retailers will need to make investments in modern inventory systems. It will allow them to ensure they have properly implemented BOPIS.
See How TAKU Can Help With Seamless BOPIS
TAKU is a single retail platform that will put you in the driver’s seat. It enables you to manage all of your in-store and online operations in a single place. Whether you have 5,000 or 100,000 SKUs, TAKU lets you quickly import customer and inventory data from your current POS, feed file, or e-commerce platform. Unlike other retail cloud platforms, TAKU is customizable and crazy fast in-store and online. With an easy-to-use design and built-in training tools, set-up is faster than many other systems. Never manage products or stock levels in different systems again.
Learn more about how TAKU works by clicking below.
BOPIS, also known as “Buy Online Pick Up In-Store,” is an important feature that today’s shoppers expect when shopping with their favorite retailers. Sometimes referred to as “Click and Collect,” Buy Online Pick Up In-Store is exactly what the name describes. Your customers shop for and purchase your products online and then pick them up in person at one of your physical locations.
Curbside Pickup is a form of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store that increased in popularity in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted many retail stores from offering in-person shopping. BOPIS and online shopping continues to grow as customers find it convenient to “pre-shop.”
Buy Online Pick Up In-Store should be an essential feature for any retail business, but especially for merchants running physical stores that target local shoppers. According to an Invesp survey, a whopping 50% of people surveyed said that they decided where to shop online based on whether or not they could pick up in-store.
Here are 6 reasons why more and more shoppers are choosing to use BOPIS and why retailers need to offer the option.
1. Increase profitability with BOPIS
When customers purchase items online and pick them up at one of your retail locations, it significantly decreases the cost of fulfillment. According to John Mulligan, Target’s COO, Buy Online Pick Up In-Store purchases are 90% cheaper to fulfill than orders shipped from a warehouse.
That’s not the only way that Buy Online Pick Up In-Store reduces costs and increases profitability. It also cuts down the cost of packing materials and requires a lot less labor because the order only needs to be picked instead of being picked and packed up for ship out. As a result, there is no need to offer free shipping or cover the cost of shipping fees with Buy Online Pick Up In-Store. This will not only save you money, but it will also save your customers money.
2. Avoid shipping costs & shipping delays
Shoppers increasingly expect free shipping. But a recent study conducted by Hanover Research and LaserShip, the largest regional e-commerce parcel carrier in the U.S., reveals that shipping rates are rising faster than they have in a decade. Not only have there been general rate increases but 64% of top online retailers are struggling with an off-schedule price increase. The study indicates “nearly half (49%) of these increases are price hikes between 10% and 19% and another quarter (27%) fall between 5% and 9% increases.”
At the same time, the pandemic has significantly increased the demand for shipping, overwhelming many shipping companies. An earlier study indicated that the U.S domestic package market was on track to reach 100 million packages per day by 2026. That number is now expected to be reached in 2022, with e-commerce responsible for 86% of that growth. This greater overall demand has driven up the cost for retailers to ship out online orders that often require free or subsidized shipping, and increased delivery delays.
Besides shipping costs themselves, BOPIS is also more environmentally friendly for small to medium physical retailers that target mainly local shoppers or carry products that are costly to ship (e.g. bulky or fragile products). If you don’t have the ability to ship from a warehouse or a dark store, using a lot of single-use packaging material or shipping out products that were already shipped once to the store or already merchandised on shelves is wasteful and causes unnecessary emissions. BOPIS encourages shoppers to buy from local, nearby stores instead of having something shipped from much further away or packaged with a lot of disposable packaging materials.
3. BOPIS leads to lower rates of return
In addition, items picked up in-store result in significantly lower rates of return. This is because merchants are more likely to check purchases when they are picking up items so returns are avoided before products leave the store. And returning in store is something that the majority of shoppers want. An Inmar Intelligence survey from July 2020 found 58% would prefer to return purchases in a store.
And lowering return rates is key to ecommerce margins as it is becoming increasingly costly for retailers to handle the return process. Although some retailers do offer to cover return shipping costs, this is becoming less possible as the overall cost of shipping increases. Bloomberg reports that return costs for retailers rose 59% in 2021 and added that it now costs $33 dollars for a retailer to process the return of a $50 item. Forcing customers to mail returns adds to their frustration, making it less likely that they will want to repeat the experience. By allowing them to return items in-store, they don’t have to deal with the inconvenience and expense of mailing orders back.
Again, the shipping cost of returns is only part of the story. Oftentimes retailers will need to spend extra money to cover the cost of offering return-friendly boxes otherwise they risk the chance of receiving returned goods that are unsellable due to damage during the return trip. With e-commerce return rates almost 3x higher than with in-store shopping, this means a 3x higher chance that returned goods are unsellable at their original price. The waste of damaged goods along with 2x the amount of disposable packaging materials just adds to the true environmental cost of shipping out online orders vs. BOPIS for local retailers.
4. Reduces merchant processing costs
With so many retailers starting to sell online since the pandemic started, many merchants now know that e-commerce sales generally require higher merchant processing fees to accept payments online versus payments taken in person in store. But once you take into account that return rates can be 3x higher with online orders, this means that retailers pay significantly higher merchant processing fees in general with online orders because any fees that are paid during any sale is lost during a return. Returned sales do not refund transaction fees. Some processors even charge additional return fees. This is why it’s important to consider features such as BOPIS to reduce returns and/or even take more payments in store.
5. Increase shopper basket size
One of the biggest reasons why Buy Online Pick Up In-Store is often more profitable for retailers is that it increases the opportunity for bigger orders and for impulse buys. Research indicates that 75% of shoppers who’ve used BOPIS will make an additional purchase and 49% of shoppers go on to make additional purchases while picking up their items in store. Not only does this result in a more satisfied customer, but it also means more profit or higher margin sales for retailers with minimal effort.
Creating a separate section for BOPIS pickups means that shoppers don’t have to wait in long lines. And placing items strategically in the BOPIS section will also benefit retailers since having a positive experience makes customers more likely to purchase other items while they’re in-store. In-store retail management systems such as TAKU are great for upselling during the BOPIS pickup process as they have the ability to handle all orders and take payment for add-ons, all under a single login. So the same staff member helping a customer pull his pickup order can also accept payment from him for those extra high-margin impulse buys he wants to add.
6. Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty
Buy Online Pick Up In-Store gives businesses that have both an online and brick-and-mortar presence a competitive advantage over those retailers that only offer online shopping. Customers can choose between shopping online, in–person, or a mixture of both. BOPIS allows customers to shop from anywhere at any time. They are no longer restricted to retail business hours which means they benefit from the convenience, flexibility, and faster service that BOPIS provides, especially to local shoppers.
BOPIS also gives customers visibility into which stores have a given product in stock, helping them avoid wasted trips and thus improving their overall shopping experience. Customers can get an accurate view of which items are in stock at a particular retail location, so they don’t have to waste time getting to a physical store only to find out that the item they want isn’t available.
Michael Ketzenberg, a professor of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, feels retailers should embrace and aggressively market BOPIS, stating in Harvard Business Review that “It’s more profitable than other omnichannel services and it gives retailers the opportunity to offer a small discount or other incentives to encourage customers to opt for the BOPIS option, creating a win-win for both the customer and the business.”
Want to learn how to easily integrate BOPIS into your business?
It’s important for retailers today to offer convenient ways for local shoppers to make nearby purchases. An easy way to do this is to offer reserve online for pick up in store.
While some shoppers will always look for the lowest price, many shoppers are interested in availability and quality. This is particularly true when retailers are offering fresh products with limited shelf life (e.g. butcher shops) or popular products such as the latest toy. The best way to attract more local, in-store customers is by making it easier for nearby shoppers to see what you have available in your store or what is sometimes called “online discovery.” After all, today’s shoppers expect to know where something is available before they head out the door.
By offering reserve online, pick up in store, customers are able to “pre-shop” to reserve the items they need and still pick up those impulse buys that add up to higher value receipts for retailers.
What is reserve online, pick up in store?
While more stores offer online payment today, for some retailers, it’s easier to offer online ordering with payment in store during pick up. Stores that don’t wish to take payment online, sell high-value products or need to calculate final weight (e.g. exact weight of a chicken) can still offer “online discovery” by giving customers the option to see everything they sell and reserve quantities for local pick up.
Since the pandemic started, more and more retailers are offering flexible online shopping options.
How can retail stores benefit from it?
Not only does online reservation minimize manual order taking (e.g. phone or email orders), it makes order preparation more efficient as stores can set cut-off times for order packing.
Having a booking system in place eliminates guesswork from retailers — it will create less waste as you will have a better idea of the expected demand for your products and offerings on any given day.
Lastly, reserve online, pickup in store is also beneficial for retailers who do not have the capacity or do not want to offer shipping and delivery of their products. By having customers come into stores instead, you are also able to upsell and encourage them to spend more and establish a deeper connection with the store. With the right system, you can easily help customers add extra items to their orders when they’re picking up their reserved items.
How can I offer reserve online, pick up in store?
If you’re looking to offer reserve online, pick up in store, look for retail management systems that allow you to share product information in store or online. TAKU was designed to make it easy for retailers to sell everywhere from the same store inventory all under a single login. See how it works to learn more.
Want to know more about reducing post-holiday returns?
As holiday season approaches, you should start to consider what to stock your shelves with and how to merchandise it. Now that most cities and regions have fully re-opened, you should expect more foot traffic in your store and more shoppers ready to spend money during the biggest shopping season of the year.
In order to capture shoppers’ attention, you will need to stand out. With supply chain issues affecting big box stores that import more from abroad this year, local businesses have the room to thrive and stay competitive during this busy season. We will introduce you to some of our selling tactics for this season to make sure that there is a steady flow of people coming in and out of your store.
Put new seasonal items at the front of the store to encourage customers to make impulse purchases
Merchandising is especially important during the holidays. The right strategies can make a world of a difference when trying to sell seasonal products such as greeting cards, decorations and gifts.
Make sure that you prominently showcase new or seasonal products by highlighting them in signs around the store and featuring them in any window displays. Make customers feel welcome and at-home when they browse in your store. You can also create a display at the checkout area that features seasonal low-ticket items that people would buy impulsively such as winter lip balm, hand cream, and stocking stuffers.
Put any discounted items (e.g. last season holiday goods) at the back to drive customers further into your store
Placing sale items at the back of the store means that you are able to capture shoppers looking for a bargain by making them walk through the entire store and see your entire catalog of items on display. Studies have shown that this encourages shoppers to buy more on impulse.
A lot of pharmacies or supermarkets use this strategy by placing bulky “loss-leaders” such as toilet paper (products sold at cost or even under cost to attract shoppers into the store) at the back of stores to encourage shoppers to use a shopping cart since this will make it easier for shoppers to browse for a longer period of time and pick up higher-margin products.
Package products that aren’t selling as well together
Make holiday gift packs to move slow moving products. Make sure to highlight the value of the gift pack (e.g. how much is saved versus buying the items individually)!
Grouping similar items together can make them seem more appealing to shoppers. In some cases, it can even increase the selling price of certain products! Attractive packaging can increase the perceived value of certain products. Festive packaging also adds to the overall look of the store and makes gifting easier for shoppers who do not want to wrap their gifts. Since convenience is important to many shoppers, this can directly impact holiday sales.
Deck out your store and online channels with seasonal and/or festive decorations
Put up inclusive holiday decorations to make sure that you do not alienate any customers while trying to create a festive spirit. A popular theme is decorating the store based on the seasons (example: Winter-themed décor and trinkets for December). Pinterest is a great starting point to get inexpensive DIY ideas if you’re on a tight budget.
Offer products that aren’t selling well as a gift with purchase
This is another way to move products that aren’t selling as well as expected. Make sure to have a minimum purchase amount to drive larger orders. This is also an easy one to offer in-store and online. Generally speaking, it’s good to have free gift offers with all channels but make sure your higher value gifts are reserved for in-store sales since shoppers buy when they can see everything you offer in person.
Use QR codes on your storefront window to keep selling even when your store is closed
Instead of turning off the lights and calling it a day, use your physical storefront to showcase holiday sweepstakes or promotions. One way to do this is by using QR codes in your storefront displays to make it easy for customers passing by to shop for items impulsively and learn more directly in your online store.
Once customers are in your online store and have added items to their cart, even if they don’t buy right away, you are able to send them retargeting emails (emails that remind them that they still have items in their cart ready for online checkout) and let them know about future promotions.
Since 2015, almost 50% of all web traffic happens on mobile phones. In 2020, this rose to almost 55%. As mobile phones play a more important part of peoples’ lives, retailers need to use this to their advantage. This means being aware of the way your business shows up online and using the right tools to attract shoppers. Whether it is paying attention to social media, customer reviews, building a website, or taking payments remotely, business owners today need to use technology to help grow their business.
Mobile Friendly Websites Get You Noticed
One of the (FREE) effective ways that you can show up higher on search engines like Google is by having a mobile responsive website. This basically means a website that looks good on smaller screen sizes such as those on mobile smartphones.
After all, a website has more functions than just allowing people to shop online. While having an online store is no doubt helpful, a website is also a calling card for shoppers to see and experience the store brand. It can even be a 24/7 catalog for people browsing online. Store websites help direct traffic to physical stores which gives retailers more opportunity to upsell shoppers.
70% of shoppers surveyed by Google said that they did online research or looked up a retailer online at one point before stepping into a store or purchasing an item. Because the majority of this research happens on mobile phones, digital marketing for a retailer must include improving the mobile experience for shoppers to drive more customers into stores.
In order to show up online, feel free to check out our best local SEO practices blog post to learn more about how you can show up higher on local search results.
Compete With Big Box Retailers Online
Since 2015, there has been a 500% increase in online searches that contain the words “near me” and “to buy.” Shoppers want to find things near them when searching online. In the same Google study, “open now” searches went up by 3x.
What does this mean for physical retailers? It means that being online gives you a chance to compete with big box stores that sell similar or same products.
Example: A shopper searches for “Acana dog food near me” and sees the following results. Though national chains do show up here, it gives smaller retailers a chance to compete. They can do this by highlighting how close they are, showcasing their products and showing competitive pricing. As shoppers are motivated by convenience and distance, this information can determine whether or not they step into your store.
Google’s Local Inventory Ads feature helps you show up higher on search results online. In short, Local Inventory Ads (LIA) showcases product and store information to shoppers nearby who are searching for specific or similar products. This is a great platform for retailers who sell barcoded products.
People Don’t Want To Figure Out Your Website
People who land on your website want convenience. 60% of people won’t return to a website if it is hard to use or not mobile responsive (easy to read on every screen size). People value convenience and want to have easy access to information. Shoppers won’t stay on websites that do not function properly on their screens. This is why mobile friendliness is particularly important to retailers who want to increase their visibility online.
Expert Tip: For PC users, you can click F12 > Select a different screen size to test out how your website is shown online on other devices.
Want to know how TAKU can help you sell anywhere at anytime?