Is retail dying? Increasing retail sales through omni-channel retailing

Recent innovations in retail POS systems now allow For a seamless shopping experience

Now more than ever, brick-and-mortar retailers are wondering how to increase their sales. Retailers lacking e-commerce stores are moving to rectify that omission as quickly as possible. However, the trick to maximizing sales lies in integrating your online and offline sales channels and presenting a unified shopping experience to the customer. In the past, this was much easier said than done. But with the advent of cloud POS software, this long-sought-after inventory management and customer-centric sales integration is now within reach.

Bringing sales online

In the past, if you sold outdoor equipment, apparel, sporting goods, home goods or the like, you may have thought it unnecessary to actually sell your inventory online. You could get by with a simple Google business listing that ensured that anyone searching for a business like yours would be able to find you.

No longer. With potential shoppers isolating themselves and such types of businesses considered nonessential and unable to accept walk-in customers, now is the time to start selling online. The bad news is that getting up and running will require some initial and likely recurring capital; the good news is that most modern POS software has an ecommerce component which you can bring online without the need to re-catalog your entire inventory or purchase an entirely new software package. Rather, you can use your existing inventory management software as the backbone for your online store.

Retail POS system providers are doing everything they can to make starting your online store as simple as possible. However, you’ll likely still need to take care of some ecommerce basics such as buying a domain name if you don’t already have one, setting up and maintaining your online storefront, and acquiring a site security certificate that will allow you to receive payment information. Despite the need to jump through a few hoops, you could have your web store up and running within a week or two.

Utilizing omni-channel retailing

Now that your store has an online component, you’re officially utilizing multi-channel retail. That refers to the fact that you’re selling at a physical location as well as online. Now the challenge becomes integrating the ecommerce portion with your brick-and-mortar location for a true omni-channel retail experience.

In the past, this integration required lots of tedious manual labour to ensure that both stores were in sync regarding your current inventory. Fortunately, most modern retail POS systems will now do the dirty work for you. You won’t need to worry that you’ll be forced to tell an unfortunate online customer that the item they wanted is actually out of stock. Not only does this save you headaches, it also makes it much less likely that your customer will receive a nasty surprise that could preclude them from shopping with you again.

But how do you give your customers the personalized attention they seek both online and in person? Top-flight retail POS systems will make it easy for you to analyze customer habits whether they’re shopping in the virtual or physical aisles. Armed with their purchase history, you can easily create online and offline promotions specifically targeted to small groups or even individual customers. Some POS systems actually integrate Instagram, email, and SMS marketing channels into their customer loyalty components, thereby enabling you to powerfully present promotions both online and off.

While it’s easier to custom-tailor the online shopping experience, new beacon technology is making in-store personalization truly viable for the first time. With a branded app, you can inform customers of special offers and items that your records indicate may be of particular interest as they browse your store in real time. While these high-tech solutions can offer customers a completely integrated experience, they can also present privacy concerns.

A lower-tech solution lies in arming your sales staff with the information they need regarding each customer at a glance. This way, as they interact, the salesperson can steer the customer toward items of interest without having to personally remember the habits of each customer. It’s this kind of personalized shopping experience that illustrates the advantages of omni-channel retailing.