Multichannel. What is it, how it works and what are the benefits
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Multichannel is a strategy of combining many distribution channels into a single, removable system. It generates a number of challenges, both before traditional sales and e-commerce. It can have a clearly positive effect on the flow of goods, which results in better monitoring of processes, efficient inventory, the possibility of ongoing inventory analysis. Multichannel trade is particularly important from the perspective of younger consumers. Especially for this group, it is important to provide full information about the availability of goods and the delivery stage.
Multichannel in trade becomes something quite obvious. In essence, it means that a company uses only one logistics interface that connects inventory and order processing. In practice, customers can, for example, place orders through one channel, receive products in another, and return them through yet another one. There are a lot of challenges for logistics because you have to design a distribution system that involves not only the efficient execution of orders but also the handling of returns. The role of a strategic element allowing for multi-channel trade is to be met by warehouses. Multichannel solutions are closely related to e-commerce.
Today’s clients expect constant and consistent interaction with the brand, regardless of the place of contact
In order to build the credibility of the brand, it is necessary to ensure business and technological synergy between several sales channels. Specialists from i-Systems argue that e-commerce solutions support the development of the multichannel strategy. The integration of many sales channels means the implementation of solutions that allow for a consistent warehouse policy, pricing strategy as well as a sales policy. Modern e-commerce solutions should also enable seamless interoperation of online and offline sales, eg through click & collect service, a unified loyalty program, or the ability to check in the online store, product availability in a traditional shopping outlet.
The multichannel strategy allows the simultaneous development of stationery stores, e-commerce system and mobile applications
The list of benefits can be quite long. Increase in sales through the use of various channels of reaching the customer, building trust and brand credibility (consistent data in different sales channels), increasing loyalty among brand customers – these are just some of them. The consequence is the strengthening of competitive advantage.
The multichannel strategy carries many challenges. One of them is the implementation of a common warehouse policy for online and offline channels. Especially for large retail chains, the synergy of several hundred stores with an e-commerce system and external portals is not easy. We are specialists in the integration of transaction systems with ERP class systems. Thanks to the combination, the brand gains full control over the sales made through various channels and is sure that the sold assortment is available in stock. The solution also allows you to specify in which warehouse or stationary store is a given product „- experts in i-Systems say.
Data exchange is useful in sales reporting and promotion management. It also allows you to run the functionality of an online store, thanks to which the customer can, from the store and online level, check the assortment availability of a stationary point of sale.
The effects are:
– full control over the entirety of sales,
– elimination of situations in which the product was sold that is not available in the warehouse,
– efficient execution of orders (online purchase, offline collection).
The click & collect service allows brand customers to purchase an online product and collect it at their personal collection point. They may be self-service devices, eg parcel lockers, stationery stores, brands or stores, such as gas stations, or kiosks with press. This way of fulfilling orders is praised by customers because they can pick up products purchased online in any place and time. According to research, shipping costs and the inability to check a product are the main reasons that discourage customers from shopping online.
The click & collect service guarantees a free parcel delivery to the stationary store, and the customer can check the purchased products during pick-up
Click & collect works not only for brands with many fixed sales points. It is also useful, for example, in companies that offer large-size products, i.e. those in which the shipping price is relatively high.
The multichannel strategy is effectively built also by establishing a consistent pricing strategy for many sales channels. Discounts are an important element of this policy. They often attract customers to the store and encourage them to make a purchase decision.
When implementing the multichannel concept, it is worth taking care of the same promotions in online and offline channels. You can – which is often an additional „bonus”, make an exception in the form of a special offer for shopping in the online store, or an additional discount at your local salon. It is important that the additional discount is the result of decisions regarding the coexistence of both channels, which are developed evenly. Managing a discount policy in an online store, however, is not a simple task.
An important element of this management are loyalty programs
Virtually every brand has its own affiliate program. Well-formed, it allows you to collect important data on customer purchase preferences. The administrator can collect information in one place: what, who, when, how often and what value of the basket he buys. With such data, it can create customer profiles and direct them to a personalized offer. When selling in many channels and wanting to implement the multichannel concept, it is worth creating a loyalty program that will be consistent for online and offline channels.
The most popular form of loyalty programs is the awarding of shopping points. The possibility of exchanging collected points for the assortment of the brand, located in the online and stationary store, will strengthen the trust of customers and make them more willing to participate in the launched program. An additional argument is a possibility of building a group of regular customers as well as obtaining data on customer purchase preferences.
Next week, another article about Multichannel