Why You Should Bring Offline Retail Online and Vice Versa

Picture this: It’s 9PM on a Sunday evening and all you want to do is binge-watch the remaining three episodes of Game of Thrones. But guess what? You can’t. What you really have to do now is tally up your inventory of the week, going through the endless mess that is your eCommerce store and physical brick-and-mortar numbers.

Your online and offline retail business should be one and the same; a cohesive experience that requires minimal effort to sync up. New research from GetData shows that half of retail businesses surveyed spend at least 3 hours a week syncing their online and offline orders and inventory. An even further 10% of businesses say they will spend 10 hours a week doing online and offline syncing. That is 520 hours a week; an equivalent of 22 days in a year.

With the surging trend of e-Commerce and mobile shopping in the past few years, retailers have had to accommodate by selling not just in one brick-and-mortar location but setting up more sales channels by way of selling online. Now after a few weeks, the orders are ramping up and you start to lose track of where you’re taking the inventory from. Sometimes you’re at the warehouse, picking up a few extra items and other times when you run out, you grab a few products directly off the shelf. By stock-take on Sunday night, your entire inventory table is a complete nightmare and you have no way of keeping track of anything.

More than just the benefit of saving almost a month’s worth of your time every year, there are also other added benefits of syncing your online and offline retail experience that could enhance overall retail growth. Here are a few reasons worth considering:

Improved and streamlined customer experiences

Imagine that a customer walks into your store for the first time, already familiar with your product and brand having bought a few things from your online store previously. The problem is your sales associates have no way of knowing if this pertinent customer information isn’t available on your in-store POS. By syncing information from your online and offline store, you’ll be able to keep better track of everyone who walks into your store and reward the ones that stay.

Post-sale customer retention

When a customer leaves your store after purchase, it’s a game of tug-of-war to keep them coming back. With a point-of-sale system that is able to track sales, purchases as well as retain customer information like e-mail addresses, retailers can begin to connect the dots by offering tailored promotions and offers to customers they know will be most interested in buying what they sell. Have a customer who has bought ceramic cups repeatedly in your physical store? Send them a seasonal promotion for home furnishing and kitchenware items when a sale comes around. This way, you can also leave out the things your customers don’t want and only send them things they do.

Digital experiences for your customers, in-store

Two words: Big Data. We’ve covered in-store beacon technology in a previous post already but it’s worth mentioning again the boundless possibilities this technology has to help bridge the online-offline loop for retailers. According to CMO, 84% of US smartphone shoppers already use their phones to assist them in their shopping while in physical stores. This sleek in-store beacon technology has the ability to give your shoppers an end-to-end, seamless brand experience, all at their fingertips. By downloading the retailer’s app, shoppers will instantly have access to bookmark favorite products, view promotions based on what they’re looking at, schedule appoints with and message sales associates and have access to the content they want to see based on what they’ve tried on and purchased. The added access for retailers to this information will mean that they can keep track of customer preferences and begin creating customized recommendations for shoppers right there and then.

The retail industry is forever evolving. Smart and diligent retailers will know that tying together online and offline with tailored content marketing for new and old customers alike is key to success in the new digital age. It is absolutely pertinent that retailers do not waste time on tedious manual inventory and sales syncing; best to leave that to technology too.

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