When it comes to retail selling, gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.” Customers today spend a significant amount of time researching products they want to buy and are much savvier about where, when and how they make their purchases.
The concept of omnichannel selling — providing a seamless shopping experience across online, mobile and in-person retail channels — has risen out of the change in consumer buying behavior. Now, retailers are compelled to offer their products anywhere their customers wish to shop – online and offline – or risk losing out on customers and revenue.
Top global brands have been investing in omnichannel retail in recent years. While small businesses do not have the extensive resources of larger retailers, there remain a few key omnichannel strategies that can help them grow rapidly and stay competitive
If you run a small business and are looking to extend your reach, expand into new channels, and engage more effectively with customers, consider the following:
Go Where Your Customers Go
In today’s connected world, small businesses can capitalize on the opportunity to reach an unprecedented number of people, especially with the variety of low-cost, mass-market solutions available at their disposal. This enables multichannel commerce for small merchants and effectively reaches your customers wherever they shop. For example, if your products cater to teens, think about using social media as an effective sales channel, particularly Facebook, given that 77% of online teens have a Facebook profile according to Pew Research. Similarly, consumers who are constantly on-the-go have turned to shopping via their mobile devices, with a 45% year-over-year increase in mobile purchases from 2013 to 2014.
Be sure that your business is discoverable across all channels – whether that’s on your website, social media page, mobile site, marketplaces or even face-to-face – to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Find Creative Ways to Sell In-Person
While small businesses might not have the infrastructure or financial means to setup and operate a brick-and-mortar storefront, it remains important to be accessible in-person to consumers.
To do this, consider alternative, face-to-face options that will allow you to connect with your prospective customers and increase engagement. For example, you can set up shop at a local trade show or farmers market, accept payments via your mobile phone or sell through other local retailers.
Personalize the Customer Experience
The benefits of selling online versus in stores differ in a few important ways. With online sales, purchasing is only a click away, and customers can buy when and where they want. In-person, consumers receive specialized attention from employees who not only help with the sale, but also leave a lasting impression on the customer.
If your business is primarily online, personalize your store’s checkout experience and provide product recommendations to increase average basket size and improve customer engagement. Investing in 24×7 phone support and live chat services also add a human touch to an otherwise impersonal shopping experience.
Optimize Your Online Store for Mobile Shopping
Mobile commerce is on the rise. Last year alone, mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic for the holiday season, with sales via mobile device accounting for 27% of all retail sales on Black Friday(up from 24% in 2013). This large, rapidly expanding piece of the e-commerce pie makes it vital for small businesses to cater to mobile shoppers. The key is to make it easy for consumers to navigate through your mobile site, find the right products, and complete their purchase.
When optimizing your website for mobile devices, look for options that offer a responsive design – a website layout that automatically adjusts to the size of your customer’s screen – so that your site converts prospects to buyers irrespective of screen size. Test your site using a tool likeresponsivedesignchecker.com, to experience how consumers navigate through your store and view your products on different devices.
With ever-increasing customer expectations omnichannel selling is now an important part of the small business tool kit. Although large retailers have dedicated resources for multichannel selling, new and innovative mass-market solutions now enable smaller businesses compete more effectively with larger retailers. By carefully considering and implementing some of the tactics shared, you too can access a wider range of consumers and become an omnichannel selling expert.