Retail is an extremely competitive industry, and those in the know are aware of the potential growth which expanding into multichannel can bring.
But before taking the first brave step into the world of e-commerce, it’s imperative businesses ensure their multichannel systems are well prepared – and that they’re not relying on older, less capable methods of management.
From preventing double selling, to understanding how to manage and ship your orders properly, multichannel systems become the spine of any retail business serious about selling across multiple platforms.
So what makes these systems so crucial, and what functionality do they need to offer?
(1) Maintaining accurate inventories
Staying on top of your inventory is a tricky enough job when you’re only in one channel. The complexity involved multiplies when moving into more channels, and often growing retailers find themselves caught behind.
The aim of moving your business onto new platforms is to accelerate your growth, and ultimately sell more. But if your business is failing to fulfil orders – often due to a combination of double selling and / or slow manual processing of inventories – you’ll be unable to keep up with your ambitions.
When you stop being able to fulfil your primary responsibilities properly to the customer, you begin to lose control and ultimately damage both your reputation and your bottom line.
Maintaining an accurate inventory with the right multichannel system will become the difference between a successful and flourishing multichannel business, and an unsuccessful costly venture into a complicated marketplace.
(2) Manage your taxes easily
Each sales channel has different ways of handling money, and staying on top of the different methods of taxation can become a confusing and difficult task. There is no room for error.
The key is to eliminate some of the stress out of the procedure by using a multichannel platform that can automate your tax liabilities. It needs to have an accounting functionality or access relevant detailed tax information for your reference.
(3) Consistent branding
In a multichannel system, you can manage your channel-specific brand image. Part of succeeding in multiple channels depends on your understanding of your identity in each of the channels.
Ensure that your invoices and other customer communications have the relevant trade name, logo, and email address for a consistent brand experience. Identity and branding means a lot, and proper management of these are easier with the right multichannel system.
(4) Streamlined shipping
Delivery remains a priority for both consumers and merchants, with shoppers now expecting Amazon-level service as standard. It’s no longer good enough merely to price match – online retailers need to differentiate on service. Fast and free delivery is no longer the domain of major retailers.
Delivery is becoming a major factor in basket abandonment with half of consumers citing unsatisfactory delivery terms as the reason for not making the final purchase. Regardless of your size, delivering on your brand promise doesn’t have to be complex, costly and disruptive to your business.
If you’re working across several channels, the different systems have to integrate directly with carrier systems to speed up sales data transfer and shipment processing. This integration eliminates manual data entry into the carrier system, enabling shipments to be dispatched with fewer mistakes.
This will save you from manually moving tracking references that need to be communicated to the customer. This is the dream of all online retailers – running an efficient, automated end-to-end shipping process – from website to courier.
By Joe Walton, Marketing Assistant at Brightpearl.
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