Looking at recent research on the progress of ecommerce retailing, not only has it consistently grown over the last years, but its growth is nowhere close to slowing down.
Online and mobile sales have continued to grow, and businesses that were traditionally brick and mortar stores are putting in huge efforts to establish their presence in the ecommerce world. The statistics prove this – ecommerce sales are predicted to increase by over 9% each year, for the next five years.
Any business that isn’t moving toward an omnichannel retailing strategy will likely be left behind by its online savvy competitors.
What is Omnichannel Selling?
Here’s a scenario that has likely happened: While shopping in a brick and mortar store, you find the perfect pair of jeans, only to find out that they don’t have any in your size. What follows probably goes like this:
- A store employee will check in the back for additional stock, then call another store to see if they have what you want.
- You stand there waiting to see what the other store says.
- Next, one of two things will happen:
- The other location will have your size jeans and you are told they will hold them while you drive there to make the purchase.
- The other location doesn’t have your size, so the store where you are will offer to order them and you will have to return to the store when the order comes in.
If you’re a patient person, this scenario may not be too upsetting. However, the average customer today doesn’t want to wait. When a situation like this happens, the customer is likely to go to a competitor and make a purchase rather than be inconvenienced by having to wait.
Omnichannel selling is a solution to this problem. To put it simply, omnichannel selling allows businesses to offer their products through multiple channels – brick and mortar, online website, ecommerce marketplaces, etc. – while providing communication and real-time updates between those channels, so that each channel has total visibility over inventory and other operational processes.
To illustrate this, let’s look at the jeans scenario again. If the store you visited used omnichannel retailing, your visit would likely be very different. The employee would be able to access the inventory of jeans in your size across all sales channels, and then have it same-day shipped from an in-stock location directly to your home.
How Can Ecommerce Businesses Benefit from Omnichannel Selling?
Using an omnichannel approach to selling can benefit businesses in numerous ways, not just the customer experience as shown in the above scenario. The following are a few to consider:
- Inventory Transparency – Because businesses that use the omnichannel method centralize data, they can see their inventory across all channels, creating a high level of inventory transparency. There are various advantages ecommerce sellers gain from this one feature.
- Decreased Shipping Costs – If a business can see all inventory across all warehouses or suppliers, then choosing the location that will be the least expensive to ship from is easy.
- More Fulfilled Orders – When the inventory of all sales channels is visible, sellers can potentially fulfill more orders. For example, if a shopper makes a purchase of an out-of-stock product, the omnichannel seller can quickly check all their warehouses to see if the item can ship from an alternate location, saving a sale that was previously lost.
- Improved Forecasting – Having increased visibility of inventory, sales, and demand allows ecommerce sellers to accurately forecast both sales and restocking needs.
- Savings on Advertising and Marketing – Because advertising and marketing are becoming more and more data-driven, having an omnichannel system that centralizes all business information regarding customers’ buying habits can help lower spending on ad dollars.
- Lower Warehousing and Storage Costs – Using an omnichannel system that improves the accuracy of forecasting and ordering will result in less inventory sitting on shelves collecting dust – and storage fees.
- Increased Sales – Businesses that become omnichannel enabled have a much simpler time adding additional sales channels to the mix. Because all information is centralized, products can easily be added to alternate marketplaces, online stores, and ecommerce platforms without complication.
Use Omnichannel Selling to Stay in the Lead
You can see that there are some really great benefits that will both increase revenue and lower expenses when you utilize an omnichannel system. Shoppers’ expectations of quick, convenient, and easy online shopping are only going to continue to grow. Businesses that put off implementing an omnichannel strategy risk being outperformed by companies that have made the switch, but moving to an omnichannel presence will help you stay ahead of competition with satisfied customers and more sales.