5 Omnichannel eCommerce Strategies to Increase Profitability
Being omnichannel isn’t an option in today’s retail world. Omnichannel is a retail reality. In fact, if anything, soon we’ll just be coining a new buzzword (“total commerce,” anyone?) to describe today’s retail imperative: to enable customers to find and purchase products anywhere, anytime, on any device—and be able to receive and return those products anywhere—quickly, conveniently, and affordably.
Today’s consumers expect more than ever before because they’re accustomed to getting what they want, when they want, and how they want it from many players in eCommerce who are getting it right. As a result, more retailers are looking to up their game and develop solutions to compete or risk going out of business. Amazon has widely been credited for setting a high bar for the industry, and now we’re seeing innovations in omnichannel technology and operations that are enabling retailers to not only compete with the eCommerce giant, but to do so without sacrificing their margins.
From omnichannel fulfillment solutions like in-store pickup and ship-from-store to in-store technologies like beacons, product ordering kiosks, and smart fitting rooms, savvy retailers are raising the bar on customer experience. With so many options available at their fingertips, consumers’ expectations have never been higher and their brand loyalty has never been lower. They will quickly take their business to a competitor if another retailer is better able to meet their needs — especially in a market still plagued by supply chain disruptions and inflation.
Improving profit with omnichannel strategies
To drive sales and win your customers’ loyalty, you can’t just optimize one part of your business and expect to compete. There are many pieces to the puzzle, such as order management systems, store fulfillment technology, payments and fraud solutions, and customer service, and all of them must work together to keep up with consumer expectations. The complexity of stitching together these various systems into an omnichannel strategy is what is causing many retailers to struggle today, yet it’s imperative to get this right if you want to stay competitive.
This brings us to the central question: how can we make omnichannel more profitable in a time of tough margins? As is the case with many omnichannel queries, there are many answers to this question. Every retail business has different challenges, goals, and customers, so every solution has to be tailored to suit their specific needs.
That being said, below are five things almost any retailer can do to make omnichannel more profitable for their business:
1. Use a centralized order management system
Utilizing a scalable single order management system (OMS) is vital in an omnichannel retail. A centralized OMS makes integration between order and delivery channels seamless. It is critical for providing both retailers and their customers with inventory visibility so they can see real-time information about the available inventory across the enterprise, including options for when, where, and how orders can most profitably be fulfilled. The pandemic has proven that being able to track inventory status in real time has been crucial to the omnichannel shopping experience in the last few years.
Best-in-class OMS systems seamlessly orchestrate the transaction from the moment a customer clicks the “buy” button to the moment she receives her order at her designated location, making sure her payment is securely processed and that her order is fulfilled from the optimal location. Ultimately, the job of a centralized OMS is to ensure that a customer is able to buy and receive her order in the exact way she wants it while ensuring that retailers make the most money possible on the order. By using a single platform, you optimize fulfillment and maximize sales while minimizing the challenges of replenishing inventory—all while delivering a memorable customer experience that drives loyalty.
2. Don’t overlook customer care before, during, or after the sale
Centralizing inventory and order information into a single OMS does more than just enable you to make more profitable fulfillment decisions. You can use this data to develop a single view of the customer so store associates can easily access a customer’s shopping preferences, buying behaviors, and transaction history to provide a more personalized experience. By empowering associates with tools and data that can improve a customer’s in-store experience—and giving them the ability to sell inventory from anywhere in the network—you have a much greater chance of closing the sale and capitalizing on upsell/cross-sell opportunities.
Of course, more traditional customer service—the kind that happens in the call center—is also essential for maximizing omnichannel profitability. Whether customers contact you via phone, live chat, email, online self-service, SMS, or social media, their customer service experience should be seamless. Every interaction should feel like the continuation of a previous conversation, if you are using a contact center platform that lets agents have access to a customer’s communication history across channels. With their purchasing preferences and buying habits at their fingertips, agents are also in a perfect position to increase sales by recommending products to customers as they’re assisting them.
3. Check your freight rates & negotiate with carriers
With the demands of a pandemic-era eCommerce environment, it’s necessary to negotiate with your carriers to improve your rates. Although shipping costs continue to rise, you still wield a certain amount of power at the negotiating table and can significantly lower your rates by focusing on a variety of areas, such as making sure your carrier agreement addresses your specific needs, leverages volume, and by encouraging the top carriers to compete for your business. To truly get the best rates, however, successful retailers choose to partner with a provider who already has the scale, volume, and favorable contracts in place to handle the entire shipping process for you.
4. Implement multiple order fulfillment options
Many retailers have turned to multiple fulfillment options to help meet the constraints of the pandemic era, however, customers have become accustomed to having options and continue to want them. Turning stores into micro fulfillment centers has enabled retailers to keep product closer to customers, reduce inventory overhead costs, and reduce last mile delivery costs.
Implementing store fulfillment options like by online, pickup in store (BOPIS), ship-from-store, buy online, return to store; and curbside pickup give shoppers options that meet their unique needs. Ship-from-store typically shortens the distances between the product and the customer, so you aren’t shipping from a distribution center located halfway across the country. With in-store pickup, you not only eliminate shipping costs altogether, but also increase traffic to your physical stores so you can generate incremental sales. Studies have shown that 47 percent of consumers make additional purchases when they visit a store to pick up their online order.
5. Understand how fraud can affect your bottom line
According to Statistica, eCommerce losses to online payment fraud were estimated at 41 billion U.S. dollars globally in 2022, and are expected to reach 48 billion U.S. dollars in 2023.
With staggering fraud statistics like these, it’s no wonder that fraud tops the list of omnichannel retailers’ biggest fears, and it’s why integrating a robust fraud management capability into your payments solution is so important.
By partnering with the right eCommerce fraud management provider, you can dramatically increase approval rates, decrease manual review rates, and systematically detect and prevent fraud through sophisticated processes that enable you to provide frictionless shopping experiences. The results are a happy customer that is ready to spend more money, a frustrated thief that moves along to another target, and greater profits for your business.
Tighten your omnichannel strategy
Implementing a successful and evolving omnichannel strategy isn’t easy. If you make the commitment to unify commerce across your organization—all of the hard work and investments will be worth it. Customers will come, will be happy, and will become loyal.
Now’s the time to start implementing omnichannel solutions that will enable you to attract, convert, and consistently delight consumers.
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