Why Your Small Business Needs to Hop on the Omnichannel Bandwagon

People working with mobile devices and computers representing omnichannel

It’s undeniable that omnichannel is the big buzzword in retail these days. But, what exactly is “omnichannel”? The basic idea of omnichannel refers to consumers having the opportunity to seamlessly shop and buy from any channel: in-store, online, and through smartphones and tablets.

As we’ve seen in the past year or so, the concept of omnichannel is quickly spreading, with big retailers grasping the trend and running with it. So, why is it important for small brick-and-mortars and/or ecommerce businesses to hop on the same bandwagon?

To start, according to research by IDC Retail Insights, customers using omnichannel options for purchasing, spend an average of 15 to 30 percent more than consumers shopping through one channel.

Back in the day, if you wanted to sell a product, you had to have room on the shelf. Now, online retailers can carry a massive assortment of products online, way more than can be displayed in stores.

The simple fact that shelf space is no longer a limiting factor for retailers is creating big changes for everyone. If major retailers can offer a seamless customer experience and a limitless assortment of products to customers, small businesses should be able to do so as well.

Still not convinced? Here are 4 reasons why you should make the move to omnichannel:

  1. Showrooming

Since the emergence of online shopping, customers have been showrooming. Meaning, they look at products in stores, and then go home to find the same product online, possibly for cheaper. According to a poll on Business Insider, 46 percent of shoppers showroom. So if you’re not operating in the ecommerce realm, that’s where nearly half of your sales are going.

  1. Webrooming

Webrooming is – you guessed it – the exact opposite of showrooming. It occurs when consumers research products online and then head to stores to make their purchases. In the same Business Insider poll, 69 percent of shoppers are webrooming.

We realize that smaller businesses operating exclusively online may not have a physical location established – but there are other ways to create an omnichannel presence. For example, look into trade fairs or local markets to showcase your business and products, and advertise when you’ll be attending these events on your website. That way, you can establish a physical presence without incurring high overhead costs.

  1. Reach More Customers

Everyone is on social media these days. So, having your business on social media is just another way to make a big impression and gain some traction with social media referrals.

But in order to take advantage of having your business on social platforms, it all needs to be combined and in sync with your selling efforts. So take it one step further – link to products via Twitter, offer promotions and discounts and/or sell directly on Facebook. Combining the efforts of your social media with your product selling can only help you reach more potential customers.

  1. Compete with the Big Dogs

Bottom line, all the big retailers are hopping on the omnichannel bandwagon and your small business risks being left in the dust if you don’t do the same. Don’t think you need to break out all the bells and whistles, but making small changes to combine your selling efforts shows customers you’re making efforts to create a seamless shopping experience for them.

What it comes down to is the fact that retail is all about customer experience. While omnichannel hasn’t changed that, it has drastically expanded it. It is no longer just about the in-store experience, but about the seamless end-to-end experience. In order to succeed and make sure your customers are happy from start to finish, omnichannel is a necessity.

Stay tuned for a post on the tools you can use to take your small business omnichannel.

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