Multi-channel Retail - Avoiding traps for the unwary

  • Remember the customer. The heart of multi-channel is allowing the customer to interact with you in the way they choose. The systems, processes and staff training to provide multi-channel should be assembled while always thinking about your customer.
  • Keep prices consistent. Having headline prices the same across all channels will avoid debates with customers. You can still differentiate pricing through shipping charges or special discounts only available in one channel.
  • Provide a consistent product range. As far as possible, have the same range available online and in store. That way, people who research in one channel and then try to buy in another won't be disappointed.
  • Capture every possible order. If it's out of stock, make sure it can be ordered for home delivery, from another store, or online.
  • Avoid damaging your brand. Common sense tells us that consumers see a single brand whether they are looking at a web store or the related retail outlets. So make sure the experience is equally good in every channel.
  • Support online enquiries. Organise to properly support any new channel, for instance answer emails in a timely way.
  • Integrate your back-office appropriately. Integration of systems can be expensive, unless your whole operation is based on a package that already provides integration. So do your research.

One last thought. Multi-channel retailing is relatively new, and we're all still learning. This provides an opportunity to steal a march on the competition, and also enjoy the experience of pioneering in a new field. Have fun!

By Chris Barling, CEO, Sellerdeck. Originally published on www.businesszone.co.uk

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