Catering to in-store and online customers can be a challenging juggling act. In an era where online order options exist for most things and various services sell products delivered directly to your home, more grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers are required to enhance the relationship with their online customers while also providing customer support and care for their in-store shoppers.
For merchants reopening brick-and-mortar shops after the COVID-19 shutdown and also planning to offer products online, striking the right balance between in-store and online sales can be overwhelming.
Research conducted pre-COVID by UPS shows that 40 percent of today's shoppers use a combination of online and in-store interactions to complete their purchases. To balance a multi-channel sales strategy, there are steps you can take to be successful.
Cross-Train Your Employees for Online and In-Person Sales
A customer waits patiently (or not) in your checkout line while your sales clerk stands behind a computer frantically filling 15 online orders that just came in. There has to be a better way. Implement more diligent cross-training of employees to be able to efficiently manage online and in-store orders. Find ways to prioritize orders in-store and online, and make sure your employees have a system in place to optimize how orders are timed and managed.
Also, designate separate spaces in your store specifically for online and pick-up orders. These two steps will go a long way to keep customer service at its best.
Choose What to Sell at Your Store vs. Online
Offer different items online versus in-store to avoid inventory competition, such as selling seasonal or discontinued items online and current items in your store. Also, to make eCommerce worthwhile, consider requiring a minimum order for online purchases or grouping products together rather than selling them individually.
When it comes to setting up an e-commerce store, think about the 80/20 rule. That means offering your top 20% best-selling products on your e-commerce store.
Manage Your Inventory
Successful multichannel eCommerce involves more than listing products on a variety of platforms. It also requires a multichannel inventory management solution. For most retailers, it’s challenging enough to keep track of inventory and orders when selling items on just a single platform. But when you’re selling on a Shopify store, as well as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and in brick-and-mortar locations, your inventory management can become a logistical nightmare.
Without proper inventory management, you risk angering your customers with out-of-stock messages, delays, and cancellations due to inefficient fulfillment processes. Try a Point-of-Sale solution, such as Vend, to help manage your inventory.
Don’t Underestimate Consumers’ Desire for In-Store Shopping
During the COVID-19 shutdown, many retail operations switched to online purchasing and curbside pickup. The demand for online shopping isn’t going to dwindle anytime soon. According to a recent survey by McKinsey and Company, a global management and consulting firm, many consumers say they plan to continue shopping online even as brick-and-mortar stores reopen.
It’s worth pointing out that more than 70 percent of the McKinsey survey respondents reported they don’t feel comfortable resuming their “normal” out-of-home activities. Still, consumers do plan to resume some of their out-of-home activities soon, and shopping is first on their list (by comparison, large events were at the bottom of their list).
In fact, for some business models, a post-Covid shift to 100 percent ecommerce isn’t necessarily the best path to success. As quarantine restrictions ease, customers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores, looking for hope and a bit of normalcy in their lives. A visit to your store can make all the difference.
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