The four benefits of multi-channel retailing #retail #product #packaging


#multi channel retailing

#

The four benefits of multi-channel retailing

The following is an excerpt from the free guide “Multi-channel Retailing: An Introduction,” sponsored by Frank Mayer and Associates and available for download here .

Creating a successful multi-channel experience can seem intimidating to many retailers, who may wonder if the effort is worth it. They may not have a choice, however.

“Consumers are expecting this kind of integration already,” said Ron Bowers, senior vice president of Frank Mayer and Associates. a Grafton, Wis.-based merchandising company. “They expect that if they order an item online, they can return it in the store, that kind of thing. It’s up to retailers to make sure that expectation is met.”

But multi-channel retailing offers plenty of benefits to retailers, benefits that make investing in the strategy worthwhile.

Improved customer perception

“Channels are disintegrating for customers,” said Jeremy Gustafson, vice president at KSC Kreate, a digital commerce agency based in Hollywood, Fla. “People are watching television and using their tablet at the same time. They expect the same kind of integration with their shopping experience.”

Brands who don’t provide that kind of experience, he said, are likely to lose customers, especially as the digital generation gains even more buying power.

Stores who do create a seamless experience that integrates all different forms of technology, however, can gain significant customer loyalty. Those brands are perceived as forward-thinking and responsive to customer’s needs — qualities that will keep customers coming back.

That improved perception offers another advantage, as well. In a world of big-box stores and online shopping, finding the best price is easier than ever for customers. A store that is perceived as responsive to customer needs and gives customers easy access to a variety of channels can differentiate itself in a crowded field. That allows the brand to compete on the experience offered, rather than just price. Customers might be willing to pay a little more for the convenience, and will come back repeatedly, and brands don’t have to slice their profits just to keep up.

The primary driver for a retailer adopting any strategy is, of course, increasing profit, most frequently by increasing sales. Multi-channel retailing, by offering a variety of engagement points for the customer to make a purchase, increases the convenience and ease of sales, thus boosting profit.

A customer who thinks about buying a pair of pants, for example, may not want to drive to the mall, park, walk to the store, find the pants and try them on. For that customer, she can go online at home and order the pants from the store’s website. Another customer, however, might be in the store trying on the pants and decide she’d like them in a different color. In that case, she can use an in-store kiosk to find the pants in the preferred color, order them and have them delivered to her home. Still another customer can use her smartphone to take a picture of the pants, send it to a friend and discuss whether to purchase them or not. Having a variety of engagement points gives retailers more tools to make a sale.

Better data collection

Knowing the customer is a key tenant for successful retailing, and multi-channel engagement points provide more opportunities to gather information about customers.

There are two benefits to the data collection offered by multi-channel retail: First, the possibility for gathering more information exists, and the information can be used more effectively.

“People usually are more comfortable entering information themselves, rather than giving it to a salesperson,” said Steve Deckert, marketing manager for Sweet Tooth, a Toronto-based provider of loyalty programs to retailers. “So they are far more likely to enter their email address into a kiosk than give it to a cashier. At the same time, by having that information available across a variety of channels, the retailer has more opportunities to capture the information, and more of it.”

If a retailer can track what a customer is purchasing, and where, more targeted marketing can be introduced. Someone who tends to browse online and then purchase in-store, for example, can be emailed an invitation to a private showing in a store, and the list of products to be shown can be sent before the event, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Not only is it more likely that the customer will provide important information, but if all the different channels are communicating, then the information only needs to be entered once.

“If you’re going to ask someone for information about themselves, it needs to be available whenever they come to you,” said Verizon’s Bagel. “Otherwise, it feels intrusive and annoying to have to repeat the same information over and over again.”

Multi-channel retailing offers benefits for more than shoppers. Workers, too, can benefit from the use of new technology, by arming them with more information and increasing their efficiency.

A tablet, for example, frees employees from the point-of-sale system, instead allowing them to carry the register with them. Employees can go directly to the aid of customers, helping them to find out what is in stock, what is available at other stores and when new products might be launching. The tablet also can contain information about the loyalty program, so a frequent customer can be given VIP status. Then, when a purchase is ready to be made, the customer does not have to stand in line, but rather can simply continue talking to the salesperson and make her purchase via tablet.

While every type of channel has its own unique set of challenges, there are some strategies that are true across all engagement points.

Be consistent. Messaging across all channels should have the same look and feel; the customer should always know exactly what brand she is interacting with.

“Traditionally, retailers have approached each channel individually,” said Gustafson. “What is needed, though, is to create a single marketing message, and then figure out how to deploy it across all channels. The messaging doesn’t have to be identical, but it all needs to be clearly related.”

Provide a value-add. Make sure each engagement point offers something to the customer. An in-store kiosk that simply accesses the company’s website, for example, is not bringing anything unique to the customer; instead, she can check the website at home, on her own. The same is true of a tablet. If the salesperson with the tablet does not have access to more or better information than the customer can access via her own tablet or smartphone, the application will not bring much value to the transaction.

Security. There is a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive, and it’s a line that is easily crossed. Customers are aware of security issues, and are wary of providing too much personal information.

“There has to be a clear connection between the information collected, how it’s used and what value the customer receives from it,” said Bagel. “Understand your brand strategy and what level of intimacy is appropriate. Depending on your clientele, privacy might not be as important — digital natives tend to be far less concerned with privacy than Baby Boomers, for example. But everyone wants to know that they will receive a benefit from giving you information.”

Be committed. Multi-channel retailing requires an investment in time and money. There needs to be a clear strategy across all teams, and cooperation is critical to success.

“In order to have totally seamless solution, all stakeholders need to be involved, giving their insight and taking ownership and having support and understanding as to what is being done, why and how,” said Bowers. “This is not a sometime commitment; this is a total marketing strategy for the retailer to invest in the future of the customer acquisition, retention process and loyalty programs.”


Multi-channel Retailing Software #total #jobs


#multi channel retailing

#

Blog Call us on 0115 7842150 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm GMT)

Multi-channel Retailing Software

Sell more, work less

Simplify your multi-channel retailing by utilising StoreFeeder – the most effective way of managing your ecommerce operations. With integrations to all major sales channels, you’ll be collating all orders into one place and managing your inventory across your chosen channels in no time. Our simple to use software allows you to automate your repetitive tasks, and it’s all hosted on “the cloud” too, so you can be sure scalability and security are in-built. With full order management right through to full inventory listing management, StoreFeeder is packed with rich features that, quite simply, work.

. Order
Management . Courier
Integration . Intelligent
Warehousing . Inventory
Management . Listing
Management . Accounts
Integration

What is multi-channel retailing?

We talk about multi-channel retailing, multi-channel selling, omni-channel retailing, cross-channel selling and so on, but what is it really all about?

Multi-channel retailing is essentially when retailers sell their products across a number of different sales avenues, or channels. These include ‘bricks and mortar’ shops, direct sales such as telephone orders, and online retailing across multiple sales platforms such as websites, eBay and Amazon, both in domestic and international markets.

Online retailing has opened up fantastic opportunities for businesses to grow using multi-channel ecommerce as a backbone for their growth strategy. With the increased number of online marketplaces retailers must approach selling online differently. Estimated multi-channel sales growth online is predicted to grow hugely over the coming years.

Being a successful online retailer means pushing and promoting products to as wide an audience as possible whilst maintaining a good level of efficiency, and automation is key to being as efficient as possible.

Our toolset makes multi-channel retailing easy, providing enterprise class tools to assist you with the automation of listing management, stock control, order processing, intelligent warehousing and reporting, each of which will save you time and money whilst opening up new markets for your products.

Benefits of multi-channel retailing

Multi-channel retailing allows merchants to reach a wide audience with both their products and indeed their brand.

Increasing the number of sales channels in turn increases the number of potential clients, your online footfall and potential sales should increase accordingly.

As you can imagine, the increase in sales comes with an increase in repetitive administration. Multi-channel retailing software is designed to streamline these process challenges..

Our enterprise class sales tools address your sales, stock and administration headaches. Automation is key to growing your business effectively, working with StoreFeeder you’ll be selling to a wider audience in no time.

By using StoreFeeder you can.

  • Control all sales channels from just one interface
  • Keep inventory up to date across all channels
  • Process orders from multiple channels with ease
  • Integrate with couriers and other services
  • Work with supplier inventories and Dropshippers
  • Search out new markets for your products
  • Grow into new International markets

Find out more about.


Retail Multi-Channel Systems Guide EPoS ECommerce Mail Order Solutions #retail #world


#multi channel retailing

#

Multichannel retail is exciting for customers and quite scary for many retailers. It brings with it new opportunities and new threats. It is about change in customer shopping habits. Yet it is vital for the retailer not to lose sight of the customer’s fundamental needs, which actually haven’t changed. This is the first in a series of articles looking at the pros and cons of multichannel retail, what are the potential pitfalls and risks and how it can boost profits for those who get it right.

Last year, I visited a pub that refused to take credit cards. Intrigued, I asked why and the owner explained that he was quite resistant to the banks taking a percentage of what should be his money, he didn’t feel it was right. Not too long afterwards the pub closed down. Unfortunately he missed the fact that regardless of his own feelings, his customers had changed, they wanted and needed to pay by credit card and by refusing to change with them his business suffered.

Change is of course a part of every business, and recognising how your customers are changing is vital for any business owner. It’s not necessarily easy though. Change is not always that obvious. At first change, especially change driven by technology, can be surrounded by lots of hot air and hype, and then gradually become reality, creeping up over several years.

Gartner identified this route to change in their Hype Cycle, which shows what happens with many new technologies; Internet, 3G phones (remember that hype?) and others. Multichannel Retail follows this curve. Where the potential for the technology is written about by an excited press before companies have a chance of making the potential benefits a reality. This creates peak of inflated expectation followed by disillusionment when people try out the new technology. This happened with the Internet when we had dial up connections and poor quality websites and search engines. But then the functionality improves over a period of years. This is the risky part. Those who haven’t changed in the initial rush can be caught out as the wave of change is slow and steady yet powerful and gets less publicity.

Multichannel retailing itself is not a new change, it was over 35 years ago Argos recognised a market where customers wanted to browse at home and buy in store. They successfully addressed that market with their catalogues and shops. The wider emergence of integrated multichannel retailing is more recent, being driven by the expansion of the Internet as a new selling channel. For example, the Internet now represents a third of Argos’ overall sales (with the Check Reserve service key to this growth which underlines the importance of it being multichannel not just internet).

What is multichannel retail?

Multichannel retailing is firstly about the customer. It is about recognizing that many of today’s consumers want multiple touch points with their retailers when and where they want them. These touch points can include the shop, Internet, telephone or smartphone. A multichannel retailer will aim to offer a consistent brand presence no matter which touch point the customer uses.

Now if a retailer only offers say, two touch points (shop and phone) and the consumer uses four touch points (shop, phone, web and smartphone) then the retailer is missing out on revenue opportunities, and risks losing that customer to a competitor with the right touch points.

Mark Lewis, chief executive of Collect + said “Our research has shown that retailers must continue to adapt to offer services that fit in with busy commuter lives if they are to maintain customer loyalty.”

This change in consumer shopping habits allows retailers the opportunity to engage with their customers more than ever before, across different touch points. If they get it right they can really grow their businesses, but there is a risk if they don’t they can lose customer’s loyalty.

What does the customer want?

If multichannel retail is really about the customer, what does the customer want? Well they want what they have always wanted: 1) good service, 2) convenience and 3) value for money (VFM).

In the early days of the Internet, even up until quite recently, the Internet was viewed by many in retail as a disruptive new technology. There was talk of customers abandoning stores and buying most products and services over the Internet at the cheapest possible prices. It was all about price. But with the rush to get online, the technology driving the websites was not refined; this had a negative impact on quality and service.

Now things have changed. The pendulum may have swung away from the core customer requirements of Service, Convenience and VFM for a while as people chased cheapest prices in the excitement of this new shopping channel. However the pendulum has now returned to a happier medium reflecting the tradition customer values.

The second article on successful multichannel retail looks at an example of how one of the most successful multichannel retailers in the UK focuses on these core values and not on price. They maintain margins, deliver a high quality of service and are growing rapidly in doing so.


The four benefits of multi-channel retailing #retail #wholesale


#multi channel retailing

#

The four benefits of multi-channel retailing

The following is an excerpt from the free guide “Multi-channel Retailing: An Introduction,” sponsored by Frank Mayer and Associates and available for download here .

Creating a successful multi-channel experience can seem intimidating to many retailers, who may wonder if the effort is worth it. They may not have a choice, however.

“Consumers are expecting this kind of integration already,” said Ron Bowers, senior vice president of Frank Mayer and Associates. a Grafton, Wis.-based merchandising company. “They expect that if they order an item online, they can return it in the store, that kind of thing. It’s up to retailers to make sure that expectation is met.”

But multi-channel retailing offers plenty of benefits to retailers, benefits that make investing in the strategy worthwhile.

Improved customer perception

“Channels are disintegrating for customers,” said Jeremy Gustafson, vice president at KSC Kreate, a digital commerce agency based in Hollywood, Fla. “People are watching television and using their tablet at the same time. They expect the same kind of integration with their shopping experience.”

Brands who don’t provide that kind of experience, he said, are likely to lose customers, especially as the digital generation gains even more buying power.

Stores who do create a seamless experience that integrates all different forms of technology, however, can gain significant customer loyalty. Those brands are perceived as forward-thinking and responsive to customer’s needs — qualities that will keep customers coming back.

That improved perception offers another advantage, as well. In a world of big-box stores and online shopping, finding the best price is easier than ever for customers. A store that is perceived as responsive to customer needs and gives customers easy access to a variety of channels can differentiate itself in a crowded field. That allows the brand to compete on the experience offered, rather than just price. Customers might be willing to pay a little more for the convenience, and will come back repeatedly, and brands don’t have to slice their profits just to keep up.

The primary driver for a retailer adopting any strategy is, of course, increasing profit, most frequently by increasing sales. Multi-channel retailing, by offering a variety of engagement points for the customer to make a purchase, increases the convenience and ease of sales, thus boosting profit.

A customer who thinks about buying a pair of pants, for example, may not want to drive to the mall, park, walk to the store, find the pants and try them on. For that customer, she can go online at home and order the pants from the store’s website. Another customer, however, might be in the store trying on the pants and decide she’d like them in a different color. In that case, she can use an in-store kiosk to find the pants in the preferred color, order them and have them delivered to her home. Still another customer can use her smartphone to take a picture of the pants, send it to a friend and discuss whether to purchase them or not. Having a variety of engagement points gives retailers more tools to make a sale.

Better data collection

Knowing the customer is a key tenant for successful retailing, and multi-channel engagement points provide more opportunities to gather information about customers.

There are two benefits to the data collection offered by multi-channel retail: First, the possibility for gathering more information exists, and the information can be used more effectively.

“People usually are more comfortable entering information themselves, rather than giving it to a salesperson,” said Steve Deckert, marketing manager for Sweet Tooth, a Toronto-based provider of loyalty programs to retailers. “So they are far more likely to enter their email address into a kiosk than give it to a cashier. At the same time, by having that information available across a variety of channels, the retailer has more opportunities to capture the information, and more of it.”

If a retailer can track what a customer is purchasing, and where, more targeted marketing can be introduced. Someone who tends to browse online and then purchase in-store, for example, can be emailed an invitation to a private showing in a store, and the list of products to be shown can be sent before the event, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Not only is it more likely that the customer will provide important information, but if all the different channels are communicating, then the information only needs to be entered once.

“If you’re going to ask someone for information about themselves, it needs to be available whenever they come to you,” said Verizon’s Bagel. “Otherwise, it feels intrusive and annoying to have to repeat the same information over and over again.”

Multi-channel retailing offers benefits for more than shoppers. Workers, too, can benefit from the use of new technology, by arming them with more information and increasing their efficiency.

A tablet, for example, frees employees from the point-of-sale system, instead allowing them to carry the register with them. Employees can go directly to the aid of customers, helping them to find out what is in stock, what is available at other stores and when new products might be launching. The tablet also can contain information about the loyalty program, so a frequent customer can be given VIP status. Then, when a purchase is ready to be made, the customer does not have to stand in line, but rather can simply continue talking to the salesperson and make her purchase via tablet.

While every type of channel has its own unique set of challenges, there are some strategies that are true across all engagement points.

Be consistent. Messaging across all channels should have the same look and feel; the customer should always know exactly what brand she is interacting with.

“Traditionally, retailers have approached each channel individually,” said Gustafson. “What is needed, though, is to create a single marketing message, and then figure out how to deploy it across all channels. The messaging doesn’t have to be identical, but it all needs to be clearly related.”

Provide a value-add. Make sure each engagement point offers something to the customer. An in-store kiosk that simply accesses the company’s website, for example, is not bringing anything unique to the customer; instead, she can check the website at home, on her own. The same is true of a tablet. If the salesperson with the tablet does not have access to more or better information than the customer can access via her own tablet or smartphone, the application will not bring much value to the transaction.

Security. There is a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive, and it’s a line that is easily crossed. Customers are aware of security issues, and are wary of providing too much personal information.

“There has to be a clear connection between the information collected, how it’s used and what value the customer receives from it,” said Bagel. “Understand your brand strategy and what level of intimacy is appropriate. Depending on your clientele, privacy might not be as important — digital natives tend to be far less concerned with privacy than Baby Boomers, for example. But everyone wants to know that they will receive a benefit from giving you information.”

Be committed. Multi-channel retailing requires an investment in time and money. There needs to be a clear strategy across all teams, and cooperation is critical to success.

“In order to have totally seamless solution, all stakeholders need to be involved, giving their insight and taking ownership and having support and understanding as to what is being done, why and how,” said Bowers. “This is not a sometime commitment; this is a total marketing strategy for the retailer to invest in the future of the customer acquisition, retention process and loyalty programs.”


Multi-channel Retailing Software #online #shopping #promo #codes


#multi channel retailing

#

Blog Call us on 0115 7842150 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm GMT)

Multi-channel Retailing Software

Sell more, work less

Simplify your multi-channel retailing by utilising StoreFeeder – the most effective way of managing your ecommerce operations. With integrations to all major sales channels, you’ll be collating all orders into one place and managing your inventory across your chosen channels in no time. Our simple to use software allows you to automate your repetitive tasks, and it’s all hosted on “the cloud” too, so you can be sure scalability and security are in-built. With full order management right through to full inventory listing management, StoreFeeder is packed with rich features that, quite simply, work.

. Order
Management . Courier
Integration . Intelligent
Warehousing . Inventory
Management . Listing
Management . Accounts
Integration

What is multi-channel retailing?

We talk about multi-channel retailing, multi-channel selling, omni-channel retailing, cross-channel selling and so on, but what is it really all about?

Multi-channel retailing is essentially when retailers sell their products across a number of different sales avenues, or channels. These include ‘bricks and mortar’ shops, direct sales such as telephone orders, and online retailing across multiple sales platforms such as websites, eBay and Amazon, both in domestic and international markets.

Online retailing has opened up fantastic opportunities for businesses to grow using multi-channel ecommerce as a backbone for their growth strategy. With the increased number of online marketplaces retailers must approach selling online differently. Estimated multi-channel sales growth online is predicted to grow hugely over the coming years.

Being a successful online retailer means pushing and promoting products to as wide an audience as possible whilst maintaining a good level of efficiency, and automation is key to being as efficient as possible.

Our toolset makes multi-channel retailing easy, providing enterprise class tools to assist you with the automation of listing management, stock control, order processing, intelligent warehousing and reporting, each of which will save you time and money whilst opening up new markets for your products.

Benefits of multi-channel retailing

Multi-channel retailing allows merchants to reach a wide audience with both their products and indeed their brand.

Increasing the number of sales channels in turn increases the number of potential clients, your online footfall and potential sales should increase accordingly.

As you can imagine, the increase in sales comes with an increase in repetitive administration. Multi-channel retailing software is designed to streamline these process challenges..

Our enterprise class sales tools address your sales, stock and administration headaches. Automation is key to growing your business effectively, working with StoreFeeder you’ll be selling to a wider audience in no time.

By using StoreFeeder you can.

  • Control all sales channels from just one interface
  • Keep inventory up to date across all channels
  • Process orders from multiple channels with ease
  • Integrate with couriers and other services
  • Work with supplier inventories and Dropshippers
  • Search out new markets for your products
  • Grow into new International markets

Find out more about.


The four benefits of multi-channel retailing #pc #retailers


#multi channel retailing

#

The four benefits of multi-channel retailing

The following is an excerpt from the free guide “Multi-channel Retailing: An Introduction,” sponsored by Frank Mayer and Associates and available for download here .

Creating a successful multi-channel experience can seem intimidating to many retailers, who may wonder if the effort is worth it. They may not have a choice, however.

“Consumers are expecting this kind of integration already,” said Ron Bowers, senior vice president of Frank Mayer and Associates. a Grafton, Wis.-based merchandising company. “They expect that if they order an item online, they can return it in the store, that kind of thing. It’s up to retailers to make sure that expectation is met.”

But multi-channel retailing offers plenty of benefits to retailers, benefits that make investing in the strategy worthwhile.

Improved customer perception

“Channels are disintegrating for customers,” said Jeremy Gustafson, vice president at KSC Kreate, a digital commerce agency based in Hollywood, Fla. “People are watching television and using their tablet at the same time. They expect the same kind of integration with their shopping experience.”

Brands who don’t provide that kind of experience, he said, are likely to lose customers, especially as the digital generation gains even more buying power.

Stores who do create a seamless experience that integrates all different forms of technology, however, can gain significant customer loyalty. Those brands are perceived as forward-thinking and responsive to customer’s needs — qualities that will keep customers coming back.

That improved perception offers another advantage, as well. In a world of big-box stores and online shopping, finding the best price is easier than ever for customers. A store that is perceived as responsive to customer needs and gives customers easy access to a variety of channels can differentiate itself in a crowded field. That allows the brand to compete on the experience offered, rather than just price. Customers might be willing to pay a little more for the convenience, and will come back repeatedly, and brands don’t have to slice their profits just to keep up.

The primary driver for a retailer adopting any strategy is, of course, increasing profit, most frequently by increasing sales. Multi-channel retailing, by offering a variety of engagement points for the customer to make a purchase, increases the convenience and ease of sales, thus boosting profit.

A customer who thinks about buying a pair of pants, for example, may not want to drive to the mall, park, walk to the store, find the pants and try them on. For that customer, she can go online at home and order the pants from the store’s website. Another customer, however, might be in the store trying on the pants and decide she’d like them in a different color. In that case, she can use an in-store kiosk to find the pants in the preferred color, order them and have them delivered to her home. Still another customer can use her smartphone to take a picture of the pants, send it to a friend and discuss whether to purchase them or not. Having a variety of engagement points gives retailers more tools to make a sale.

Better data collection

Knowing the customer is a key tenant for successful retailing, and multi-channel engagement points provide more opportunities to gather information about customers.

There are two benefits to the data collection offered by multi-channel retail: First, the possibility for gathering more information exists, and the information can be used more effectively.

“People usually are more comfortable entering information themselves, rather than giving it to a salesperson,” said Steve Deckert, marketing manager for Sweet Tooth, a Toronto-based provider of loyalty programs to retailers. “So they are far more likely to enter their email address into a kiosk than give it to a cashier. At the same time, by having that information available across a variety of channels, the retailer has more opportunities to capture the information, and more of it.”

If a retailer can track what a customer is purchasing, and where, more targeted marketing can be introduced. Someone who tends to browse online and then purchase in-store, for example, can be emailed an invitation to a private showing in a store, and the list of products to be shown can be sent before the event, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Not only is it more likely that the customer will provide important information, but if all the different channels are communicating, then the information only needs to be entered once.

“If you’re going to ask someone for information about themselves, it needs to be available whenever they come to you,” said Verizon’s Bagel. “Otherwise, it feels intrusive and annoying to have to repeat the same information over and over again.”

Multi-channel retailing offers benefits for more than shoppers. Workers, too, can benefit from the use of new technology, by arming them with more information and increasing their efficiency.

A tablet, for example, frees employees from the point-of-sale system, instead allowing them to carry the register with them. Employees can go directly to the aid of customers, helping them to find out what is in stock, what is available at other stores and when new products might be launching. The tablet also can contain information about the loyalty program, so a frequent customer can be given VIP status. Then, when a purchase is ready to be made, the customer does not have to stand in line, but rather can simply continue talking to the salesperson and make her purchase via tablet.

While every type of channel has its own unique set of challenges, there are some strategies that are true across all engagement points.

Be consistent. Messaging across all channels should have the same look and feel; the customer should always know exactly what brand she is interacting with.

“Traditionally, retailers have approached each channel individually,” said Gustafson. “What is needed, though, is to create a single marketing message, and then figure out how to deploy it across all channels. The messaging doesn’t have to be identical, but it all needs to be clearly related.”

Provide a value-add. Make sure each engagement point offers something to the customer. An in-store kiosk that simply accesses the company’s website, for example, is not bringing anything unique to the customer; instead, she can check the website at home, on her own. The same is true of a tablet. If the salesperson with the tablet does not have access to more or better information than the customer can access via her own tablet or smartphone, the application will not bring much value to the transaction.

Security. There is a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive, and it’s a line that is easily crossed. Customers are aware of security issues, and are wary of providing too much personal information.

“There has to be a clear connection between the information collected, how it’s used and what value the customer receives from it,” said Bagel. “Understand your brand strategy and what level of intimacy is appropriate. Depending on your clientele, privacy might not be as important — digital natives tend to be far less concerned with privacy than Baby Boomers, for example. But everyone wants to know that they will receive a benefit from giving you information.”

Be committed. Multi-channel retailing requires an investment in time and money. There needs to be a clear strategy across all teams, and cooperation is critical to success.

“In order to have totally seamless solution, all stakeholders need to be involved, giving their insight and taking ownership and having support and understanding as to what is being done, why and how,” said Bowers. “This is not a sometime commitment; this is a total marketing strategy for the retailer to invest in the future of the customer acquisition, retention process and loyalty programs.”


Retail Multi-Channel Systems Guide EPoS ECommerce Mail Order Solutions #custom #retail #packaging


#multi channel retailing

#

Multichannel retail is exciting for customers and quite scary for many retailers. It brings with it new opportunities and new threats. It is about change in customer shopping habits. Yet it is vital for the retailer not to lose sight of the customer’s fundamental needs, which actually haven’t changed. This is the first in a series of articles looking at the pros and cons of multichannel retail, what are the potential pitfalls and risks and how it can boost profits for those who get it right.

Last year, I visited a pub that refused to take credit cards. Intrigued, I asked why and the owner explained that he was quite resistant to the banks taking a percentage of what should be his money, he didn’t feel it was right. Not too long afterwards the pub closed down. Unfortunately he missed the fact that regardless of his own feelings, his customers had changed, they wanted and needed to pay by credit card and by refusing to change with them his business suffered.

Change is of course a part of every business, and recognising how your customers are changing is vital for any business owner. It’s not necessarily easy though. Change is not always that obvious. At first change, especially change driven by technology, can be surrounded by lots of hot air and hype, and then gradually become reality, creeping up over several years.

Gartner identified this route to change in their Hype Cycle, which shows what happens with many new technologies; Internet, 3G phones (remember that hype?) and others. Multichannel Retail follows this curve. Where the potential for the technology is written about by an excited press before companies have a chance of making the potential benefits a reality. This creates peak of inflated expectation followed by disillusionment when people try out the new technology. This happened with the Internet when we had dial up connections and poor quality websites and search engines. But then the functionality improves over a period of years. This is the risky part. Those who haven’t changed in the initial rush can be caught out as the wave of change is slow and steady yet powerful and gets less publicity.

Multichannel retailing itself is not a new change, it was over 35 years ago Argos recognised a market where customers wanted to browse at home and buy in store. They successfully addressed that market with their catalogues and shops. The wider emergence of integrated multichannel retailing is more recent, being driven by the expansion of the Internet as a new selling channel. For example, the Internet now represents a third of Argos’ overall sales (with the Check Reserve service key to this growth which underlines the importance of it being multichannel not just internet).

What is multichannel retail?

Multichannel retailing is firstly about the customer. It is about recognizing that many of today’s consumers want multiple touch points with their retailers when and where they want them. These touch points can include the shop, Internet, telephone or smartphone. A multichannel retailer will aim to offer a consistent brand presence no matter which touch point the customer uses.

Now if a retailer only offers say, two touch points (shop and phone) and the consumer uses four touch points (shop, phone, web and smartphone) then the retailer is missing out on revenue opportunities, and risks losing that customer to a competitor with the right touch points.

Mark Lewis, chief executive of Collect + said “Our research has shown that retailers must continue to adapt to offer services that fit in with busy commuter lives if they are to maintain customer loyalty.”

This change in consumer shopping habits allows retailers the opportunity to engage with their customers more than ever before, across different touch points. If they get it right they can really grow their businesses, but there is a risk if they don’t they can lose customer’s loyalty.

What does the customer want?

If multichannel retail is really about the customer, what does the customer want? Well they want what they have always wanted: 1) good service, 2) convenience and 3) value for money (VFM).

In the early days of the Internet, even up until quite recently, the Internet was viewed by many in retail as a disruptive new technology. There was talk of customers abandoning stores and buying most products and services over the Internet at the cheapest possible prices. It was all about price. But with the rush to get online, the technology driving the websites was not refined; this had a negative impact on quality and service.

Now things have changed. The pendulum may have swung away from the core customer requirements of Service, Convenience and VFM for a while as people chased cheapest prices in the excitement of this new shopping channel. However the pendulum has now returned to a happier medium reflecting the tradition customer values.

The second article on successful multichannel retail looks at an example of how one of the most successful multichannel retailers in the UK focuses on these core values and not on price. They maintain margins, deliver a high quality of service and are growing rapidly in doing so.