If you’ve been keeping up with industry news, then you’ve likely come across the term omnichannel, which in retail, simply means letting customers research, browse, and complete purchases seamlessly across multiple devices and channels.
A good omnichannel retailer is there for its customers whether they’re buying in the store, on their computer, or even on their mobile device, and it allows people to smoothly move from one channel to the next as they go about their shopping journey.
One way of doing this is through services such as mobile and online ordering as well as in-store pickups and deliveries. Plenty of major retailers, including Walmart and Nordstrom, have been implementing such services for quite some time now, and have gotten great results.
And the good new is, small and medium retailers can also get in on the fun. There are several solutions (some of which are Vend add-ons) that enable merchants to offer these convenient services. In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits of doing so and provide tips on how you can implement them in your store.
Why you should look into multi-channel ordering and fulfillment
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar shop that sells merchandise or a restaurant serving yummy eats to patrons, multi-channel order and fulfillment options should be something you should consider.
Here are a few reasons why:
They’re convenient and they give customers more reasons to buy from you
Giving people the ability to place orders online or using their smartphones can help you reel in more sales, faster.
Customers who see that cute item you just posted on Instagram won’t have to wait until they’re at your store to purchase it (if they even remember, that is). With the right online and mobile ordering systems, you can let them complete the purchase from where they are.
Or, a customer who suddenly gets a craving for your scrumptious food products won’t have to go to the trouble of swinging by your store and waiting for their purchases. They can just place an order online and either have it delivered, or they can head to your location to pick it up when it’s ready.
These services also provide extra flexibility and can help customers save time and money. In-store pickup lets customers save on shipping and enables them to get their hands on their purchases when they want, while delivery services save busy shoppers time and effort from having to physically go to the store.
They can reduce in-store lines and wait time
Nothing kills a customer’s mood to buy than a long wait at checkout. Online and mobile ordering reduces that wait and keeps your in-store traffic running smoothly.
Case in point: Bird On a Wire, a free-range rotisserie chicken joint in Auckland. Bird On a Wire lets customers place orders through its website or app using Mobi2Go, a service that provides online and mobile ordering solutions for restaurants.
Bird On a Wire owner Ben Grant told the Mobi2Go team that the service works well for them. It “mitigates big lines in the shop, integrates directly with our POS system Vend, and is an additional revenue stream.”
“We get really busy in the shop, so we can drive some traffic and extra business through the Mobi2Go platform to speed things up.” he added.
Store pick-ups pave the way for additional sales
Customers who pick up their orders in the store often end up buying more items once they see the great products that the retailer has. In fact, Macy’s, which has recently rolled out click-and-collect across all its stores, told MediaPost that shoppers almost always end up buying other items, and spend up to 125% of their intended order.
These services enable you to tap into potential customers on social media
Online and mobile ordering can also help you convert your fans and followers into actual customers. Posting a storefront URL together with the product pictures that you publish on social sites can help drive actual sales (on top of likes and shares).
Consider what Rare Device in San Francisco is doing. With the help of ShoppinPal, the retailer offers a free same-day delivery service to locals, allowing the store to provide an extra order fulfillment option to shoppers. Rare Device shares their storefront link on sites like Instagram and Twitter, and this helps them promote the service and raise customer awareness.
Go with a cloud-based online ordering solution
Felicity Spiers, marketing and brand manager for Mobi2Go, says that one of their top tips for merchants considering online ordering is to opt for a cloud-based solution. “It’s the best option in terms of value for money, branding, support, technological updates, user experience, and control,” she adds.
Cloud-based solutions also make it easier for users to integrate with other software so data (e.g. inventory, customer info, etc.) flows smoothly and updates automatically from one program to the next.
Mind your inventory
Having a good handle on inventory is critical to the success of multi-channel ordering and fulfillment. As Giselle Gyalzen, owner of Rare Device (a shop that offers store pickups and same-day deliveries) put it, “You need to make sure that your inventory is reflected properly. You don’t want to sell something you don’t have in stock.”
Kush Khandelwal, co-founder at ShoppinPal, echoes this and advises merchants to stick to inventory best practices. Stay on top of stock takes and keep your POS and inventory system updated so your online or mobile storefront accurately reflects what you have in your store.
This is another reason why you should select an ordering solution that integrates with your existing POS or inventory software. Your systems need to be able to “talk” to each other so information is automatically updated and you won’t have to lose or re-enter data.
Ensure that your staff can handle orders and fulfillment
See to it that you have enough manpower to take care of online orders, pickups, and deliveries. Rare Device’s Gyalzen says that retailers should make sure that they “have human resources to fulfill the order quickly. Customers expect to be able to pick it up pretty quickly after they order it.”
You may also want to devote a considerable amount of resources educating your employees. Keith Anderson, VP of Strategy & Insights at Profitero, says that merchants should “Plan to offer extensive training to store staff on how to ensure that the right items are picked accurately, how to stage items for in-store collection, and how to process in-store returns of online orders.”
Offer multiple payment options
When it comes to payments, Mobi2Go recommends that retailers give people the option to either pay online or upon picking up their order.
“Our data shows approximately 70% of customers pay online with a credit card, and 30% on pick-up. We recommend offering both payment options to reduce the risk of alienating potential customers who don’t have a credit card.”
Make sure you have great images and product descriptions
This is particularly important if you’re selling merchandise. Khandelwal notes that retailers must take the time to take good pictures and write awesome product descriptions to entice online and mobile users to make a purchase.
Market the service and spread the word
Last but not least, be sure to market the service. “Once you’ve got online ordering up and running, don’t forget to tell people about it! Make sure you have a launch date and promotion plan in place to get the word out to your customers about this convenient new service, because they’ll love it,” Spiers says. “A combination of social media, email marketing, in-store marketing and paid advertising will get the best results.”
What’s your take on online and mobile ordering? Would you consider it for your business? Let us know in the comments.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.