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09 May
5 Reasons Why Multi-channel Retail is the Future of Ecommerce
 
 
With online retail ecommerce sales reaching nearly two trillion dollars in 2016 and forecasted to top four trillion dollars by 2020, it is undeniable that ecommerce must form a core element of any retail growth strategy supported by social media, SEO, and various other online marketing strategies present to increase and improve retail success. Yet, while it is certainly important for retailers to focus on engaging and referring new customers back to their website, today’s consumer demands dictate that retailers do the opposite and engage consumers where, when and how these consumers want to be engaged. The lack of multiple engagement channels increases that chance of competitors attracting their attention and potentially getting their business and loyalty.

Here are five reasons why multi-channel retail is the future of ecommerce and why intelligent retailers should have and implement multi-channel retail strategies.

Reason One: More channels equal more opportunities

Consider the number of websites across the web and the thousands that are added daily. It is not unreasonable to conclude that although an online presence is vital, retailers who are able to engage consumers naturally both on and offline, are best positioned to enjoy increased success. The idea of having a sole channel for consumer communication and engagement is not only limiting, but competely obsolete in today's world.

There are over a billion live websites on the internet and their visibility could be boosted by various SEO techniques i.e. backlinks, keywords etc, but the absence of a multi-channel strategy for any retailer today, especially with the opportunities smartphones and tablets create, leaves such retailers with a terminal business.

The multi-channel opportunity for retailers is all about giving consumers choice and options around where, what and how they engage with retailers and their products. to make a purchase.  Fashion retail brand Missguided, opened their first standalone and flagship store in 2016 at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford UK. The fashion retailer leveraged multi-channel opportunities from online to mobile to a physical store, giving customers the options and opportunity to experience their brand in the most convenient way to them.

Reason Two: Multi-Channel price comparisons increase sales

Retail is arguably the most competitive element of global commerce and ecommerce retailers who engage in price comparison and effective competitor monitoring campaigns are strategically empowered to develop strategies that could boost sales and increase margins.

If today’s value conscious consumer understands the need for diligent price comparison as part of their purchasing habit, retailers surely should see the need to be competitive if not just on price only but also service areas that consumer's may also consider of value. This could be product reviews, speed of delivery, customer support, product returns and much more. Ecommerce managers today need a competitor monitoring plan.  

It is important that data received from internal campaigns that track competitor prices are timely and most importantly, accurate. Price isn’t the sole determinate of consumer value but all the same you would not want consumers to find the product they want offered at a better retail value by the competition.

Reason Three: Multi-Channel accelerates consumer onboarding

Where retailers are able to diversify channels through which consumers engage their products, makes their brand more appealing to a wider target audience while contributing to an increased customer base especially as they are able to consumers who prefer engaging with brands via specific or multiple channels. They are also able to retain existing customers by making it easier, more convenient and pleasurable experience as they engage with the brand.

The mass availability and access to technology allows consumers to consume information almost instantly and take action in the same instant. In retail, this could be the difference between winning and losing out on current and future sales. It is not uncommon for consumers to visit a brick and mortar clothing store, find the item of clothing they like and check to see if they can buy that item or a similar item anywhere else online. This increasingly common consumer habit has been described by many as a catalyst for the increase decline in brick and mortar retail as an increasing number of retailers continue to close down their physical retail operations and focus on digital opportunities to remain competitive.

Reason Four: Multi-Channel options increases customer loyalty

Most ecommerce managers would openly admit that customer engagement strategies have become a key focus area within their business and rightfully so. Retailers now find themselves competing for customer attention through channels that are increasingly noisy and cluttered. Connecting with once loyal customers has become increasingly difficult for retailers who fail to consistently adapt their communication and product offerings. The rise of influencer marketing strategies as a channel for consumer engagement has been adopted by many leading retailers as a way to minimize distractions from competitors while leveraging the good will their target audience has towards the influencer.

This is not to say that communications via SMS, chat, email, and push notifications are now redundant but consistent and constant innovation and evolution of what and how retailers engage their audience is a crucial part of their strategy to remain ahead of the competition.  Yes, ecommerce retailers should have price monitoring in place, but such should not become the sole strategy to sustaining customer loyalty and attracting new ones.  

Reason Five: Multi-Channel facilitates more targeted marketing initiatives for retailers

Ecommerce retailers are able to create more targeted marketing communications or execute more targeted marketing initiatives focused at increasing engagement, sales volumes or margins from a specific channel. This could be channel specific promotions and offers that are time limited or initiatives to drive more customer traffic through other channels that could be strategically lucrative for the retailer.

Conclusion

Multi-channel marketing in retail was once the future of ecommerce but it is happening now and going nowhere soon. The enormity of the internet, the desire for empowerment and information, coupled with the ever-growing number of online businesses dictates that various engagement channels be explored if retailers want to survive and thrive in an increasingly fierce and competitive online market place.

Using Competitor Monitor, retailers can track their competitor prices, products, promotional offers, stock availability and receive daily competitor price data as well as recommendations on how to use the data to their advantage.  As multi-channeling is based around retailers providing various consumer engagement touch points, retailers cannot afford to ignore competitor activity especially if they offer similar or exact products.  The only method to do so is to track, compare and adjust key purchase influence points such as price, promotional offers, stock and customer reviews accordingly.

5 Reasons Why Multi-channel Retail is the Future of Ecommerce

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