With so many selling options available, the retail landscape is changing. There are more channels to sell through and higher customer expectations to meet. Customers want the flexibility to shop anywhere at any time (online), but retain the ability to go into a store and pick up an item. Retailers want to build and maintain long-term relationships with their customers as well as streamline their internal processes. A multi-channel approach addresses the needs of both customer and retailer alike.
Exploring additional sales options, including additional stores, websites, marketplaces, mail order, interactive television, catalogs, and comparison shopping sites, helps maximize revenue and improve profitability.
The model spreads risk out among several channels to overcome inconsistent buying behavior in an uncertain economy.
Multiple sales channels improve customer satisfaction by delivering choice and convenience. In fact, many consumers expect multi-channel options from their favorite brands.
But it’s important to step back and look at the big picture. There is so much potential in a multi-channel approach that it’s easy to lose sight of the challenges and extra work involved. To maximize your operational efficiency, it’s important to include multi-channel integration as part of your implementation.
I’ll use the order management process to illustrate why integration is an essential component of any multi-channel strategy. Let’s say a company sells through a marketplace like Amazon, uses Magento to power their eCommerce site, utilizes Microsoft Dynamics RMS for their Point of Sale (POS) system, and Microsoft Dynamics NAV as their ERP.
Orders are collected through Amazon, Magento and Microsoft RMS, but then what happens to them? They need to be fulfilled – which is traditionally done by manually entering them into the ERP. Furthermore, the company needs to communicate with the customer throughout the sales cycle about order status updates and shipping notices – yet another manual task.
With all of this manual key entry, the process is slow and mistakes are inevitable putting customer satisfaction at risk. The chances of shipping the wrong product or delaying delivery dramatically increases. And in a world of social media, the last thing you want is an unhappy customer who is willing to write a bad review and share it publicly, negatively affecting sales and marketplace rankings.
To better manage various sales channels, multi-channel integration through a platform designed to handle this exact scenario will make the transition seamless and allow your organization to reap the benefits of this sales model. Multi-channel integration platforms, such as nChannel, allow companies to manage and exchange sales transactions that occur at the register, in the warehouse or online. To take full advantage of the customer service, revenue and profitability promises of multi-channel sales model, the platform should:
Automatically route orders to a single fulfillment system without key entry
Automatically route orders to other fulfillment systems such as drop ship or third-party logistics partners without key entry
Provide pre-built connectors that technically link multiple supply chain management systems (i.e. financial, ERP or POS systems to both online and offline sales systems)
Customizable business rules to support specific business processes and requirements
A multi-channel strategy can literally transform your business, but only if it’s well-planned and supported by the technology needed to take advantage of the many benefits it offers. Read more about nChannel's multi-channel integration solution.
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