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Today, retailers have more opportunities to expand their businesses thanks to the combination of ecommerce and brick-and-mortar (B&M) stores. Although some people believe the B&M store is dying, these businesses are actually thriving—especially in particular niche areas of retail. Instead of focusing on B&M verses ecommerce, today’s retailers are finding success in merging the two. Also referred to as omnichannel retail, B&M and ecommerce can work together to create a stronger, more profitable brand.
You may wonder how to combine e-commerce with B&M and get the most out of your business. Integration of the two models is actually much easier than it sounds. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can create a popular face-to-face business while growing a strong online presence.
Ideally, you can sell many products in your B&M and online stores, but some may do better in one location than others. For example, say you own a bakery. Obviously, many of your customers will want fresh-baked goods, so they’ll come to your B&M location. However, it might be a good idea to offer some products exclusively through your online store, such as certain cookies and breads. That way, your customers can enjoy your products at home or on the go. Additionally, you could change up the products offered through your online store week to week, so your customers will always have a sense of anticipation.
Selling some products in-store and some online also works well if you deal in rare or hard to find products. For instance, your small bookstore might carry new releases on site. However, you might also want to start an online store with a particular section for rare or out-of-print titles. You could offer used copies in good condition or copies of out-of-print books at lower prices than secondhand B&M stores offer. Your customers will soon see you as a highly relevant bookstore.
One of the most important aspects of business today is layout. When businesses depended entirely on B&M, the axiom used to be, “location, location, location.” These days, location is still important, but layout is king when it comes to your online store. Don’t get so caught up in the rush to get online that you don’t take special care with your website. Make it as user-friendly as possible, check links often to ensure they work, and place links and buttons strategically around the site. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes– what features and functionalities would you want from an ecommerce store?
Evaluate vendors before your online store launches, and network face-to-face as much as possible. Those personal connections will help your online store build a good reputation, fast. Let’s return to the bookstore example. You could depend entirely on organic web traffic for e-commerce, but that might not get you the results you want. However, if you network with local authors and they agree to add their books on your site, you’ll get recognition from a greater number of potential clients in your area. That recognition could quickly spread beyond local circles, growing your ecommerce presence quickly.
Many businesses that combine ecommerce and B&M run into problems when they try to organize inventory or keep up with client information.
Poor communication between stores and systems are unfortunately common. One easy way to solve this is through an integrated point of sale (POS) system. A good POS system can keep track of inventory and accounting for you, as well as perform many other functions. An integrated system can automatically track valuable data from all your channels, and combine them into intuitive reports for better business management.
Retail POS systems are also convenient for employees, whether the systems work in physical stores or online. Through POS, employees can clock in and out, easily keep track of their hours, and keep up with when and how much they earn per pay period. This takes much of the pressure off business owners to monitor what each employee is doing and when.
Overall, an updated retail POS system with integration capabilities is a helpful tool for business owners looking to streamline their omnichannel operations.
With a true omnichannel retail strategy, customers can easily flow between online and in-store shopping experiences. To take it to the next level, business owners should consider adding a wider range of fulfillment options.
Since today’s consumers are looking for convenience, retailers who offer a variety of buying options have an advantage over those who don’t. Aside from being able to ship ecommerce items to their homes, customers are looking for ship-from-store and in-store pickup options to best fit their evolving needs.
In conclusion, although some people believe the B&M business model is giving way to e-commerce, the two can work together and create a stronger business if you have the right tools. If you’d like more help combining your B&M store with e-commerce, contact TallySoft for more information. We’ll make sure your B&M store becomes a thriving fulfillment center for all clients.
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