Traditional retailers are struggling in the current challenging environment. The rise of Amazon has been the kiss of death for small family-run stores and huge national chains alike. The news that Sears has crashed into administration with losses of $11 billion is symptomatic of how tough trading conditions are right now.
Sears was once the world’s largest retailer. It survived two world wars and was a staple store for American families, who loved the fact they could pay for high-end goods using monthly payments. It has a reputation for dependability, but that wasn’t enough. With so many online bargains available, customers have slowly drifted away. Despite attempts to keep the business afloat, Sears has become yet another high-profile casualty in the retail wars.
Right now, it seems as if the only winner is Amazon, which continues its journey to become the one and only retailer we need. But while Amazon may sell pretty much everything a modern consumer wants, it doesn’t yet have a monopoly and savvy retailers do have the tools to fight back. One of the best ways to do is this by adopting an omnichannel approach.
What are omnichannel sales?
Omnichannel means multichannel. The idea is that you give your customers multiple ways to shop in your store. As well as a brick and mortar store, let them shop online, via an app, and using a catalog. By providing a one-stop-shopping experience, you minimize the possibility that the customer will look elsewhere.
Omnichannel extends beyond sales, too. For example, if a customer has a problem with an order and they contact customer service, their expectation is that the customer service agent will know who they are and what their order was. Omnichannel retail software provides a fully configurable platform, so you can help the customer complete their buying journey as smoothly as possible.
Retailers can use omnichannel retail software to combine their online and offline operations. That way, if a customer buys an item online, they can then go into their local store and request an exchange. Or, they can order online and pick up the order in-store. Omnichannel software also lets stores offer a best-buy guarantee and implement multi-channel marketing initiatives.
The rise of chatbots
Chatbots are another example of an omnichannel approach. Many online retailers are recognizing the benefits of using AI to handle the first tier of customer service inquiries. AI chatbots can take order numbers, deal with simple queries, and escalate the contact to a second-tier customer service advisor if necessary.
Making omnichannel work for your business
The omnichannel approach helps retailers meet the needs of an increasingly discerning customer, but you need to have suitable business processes in place. You can’t afford to keep your online and offline operations separate. Use data analysis to gain insights into which areas of your business are more successful, so you can focus on the best way to take your business forward. With the right approach, omnichannel is the key to success for a modern retailer. Offer your customers a fully connected shopping experience and they will stick with you for the foreseeable.