Small and medium sized retailers need to adopt an omni-channel strategy that unites mobile, online and offline sales to stay in the game as larger retailers increasingly move ahead thanks to their mobile strategy.
So warns Anagram Systems, a developer of business management software, which believes that to compete effectively against larger businesses, smaller retailers need to look more seriously at mobile and how it glues online and offline together.
As increasing numbers of people combine online research on mobile and desktop for products and services with calls and visits to a shop or branch. An omni-channel approach ensures that customers can make decisions and purchases via the retail channel that is most convenient for them.
Not taping into this is costing smaller retailers dear.
Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, Anagram Systems explains: “In the last two years, we’ve seen a leap in the number of retailers which are adopting an omni-channel approach and are growing sales and customer satisfaction levels as a direct result.
“Businesses that cater for the fact that people now shop in different ways, moving between online and offline retail channels before making a decision, are providing the gold-standard shopping experience that consumers and business buyers now expect as standard and take for granted.”
Recent research from MasterCard revealed that eight out of 10 consumers now user a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology such as a searchable electronic catalogue while shopping and researching products and services ahead of a purchase.
Business with plans to adopt an omni-channel strategy must therefore think carefully about their existing IT infrastructure and the technology required to engage with customers who access different channels using a range devices including desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Until recently business owners considering the adoption of an omni-channel strategy faced a number of obstacles. These included investment in website shopping cart functionality, front-end and back-end systems required to capture sales and customer information, and crucially, enabling personnel in different departments work more closely together.
Recent advancements in technology and the accessibility of sites such as eBay and Amazon , however, have made it easier and more affordable for small retailers to implement the systems that underpin a successful omni-channel strategy.
Morgan concludes: “The good news for small retailers is that they are often more agile than their larger competitors and can make changes to internal processes and introduce new technology in a short space of time. This agility combined with more affordable business management systems like our Encore platform means small businesses are able to implement an omni-channel strategy very quickly. As a result they are able to grow their market share and compete against much larger business.”