Today’s consumers want the ability to buy products from anywhere and at any time.
As a result, businesses will struggle to compete if they’re not accessible across multiple channels, including e-commerce, in-store and over the phone. Adopting an omnichannel strategy is becoming increasingly important as companies must provide multiple ways for customers to make purchases.
Those that don’t embrace an omnichannel strategy will risk brand discontent, customer frustration and business inefficiency. The danger when you have multiple channels, though, is that customers will have a different experience depending on what channel they use.
Fortunately, cloud technology helps distributors to ensure they’re making the buying experience seamless regardless of how customers choose to research, evaluate and ultimately buy products. Here are three keys to a successful omnichannel fulfillment operation.
- Fully integrate all aspects of the business: All of the elements of an operation should be blended together and function as a unified system, including financials, ERP, e-commerce, point-of-sale, order management and CRM. The best solution is to have one platform that provides all of those services fully integrated so they work seamlessly to support operations.
- Streamlined multi-location inventory management: Effectively managing inventory across multiple locations is critical to successful omnichannel fulfillment operations. That would include using retail outlets essentially as warehouse locations. Businesses should be able to see the availability of inventory across all of their locations and have the ability to fulfill customer orders from any location.
- A unified approach: A cloud-based ERP distribution system supports an omnichannel strategy by providing one order management system, one inventory system and one view of the customer across all channels.
Customers may do research on a laptop and then go into the store to touch the product to see how it feels in their hands. At that point, they may walk away and order the product on their smartphone. Customers must have the ability to see the same products, the same pricing and the same order promises across all those channels.
Retailers in particular have had a difficult time adapting to the demands of omnichannel strategies, according to a post on The Wall Street Journal blog.
“Retail CIOs say they are still trying to figure out how to design integrated technology systems that support a range of physical, online and mobile sales channels,” the article says. “And retailers’ IT, marketing and sales leaders must collaborate with each other to make these systems work.”
In spite of the challenges, which can be overcome, distributors must embrace the changes brought on by the digital revolution or risk being left behind.
The concepts behind the technology are not hard to understand. At the end of the day, you want to make it easy for customers to buy products. It’s no different than the sales methodologies of the past, but the tools are different.
Integrated systems help to sell products more efficiently and accurately. They provide a simple way for consumers to make purchases and allow you to see real-time inventory levels across all channels.