For retailers engaged in eCommerce, listing products at scale can quickly become an overwhelming, time-consuming, and complicated task. Finding the right eCommerce solutions, however, can help a retailer maximize the benefit of using a variety of digital vendors to reach new customers while eliminating the inefficiencies and potential errors associated with a manual process. eCommerce is now a necessary endeavor for retail sales, with studies showing that by 2018, 18% of all retail sales will take place online and by 2040, 95% of purchases will be via eCommerce. Implementing an eCommerce strategy and aligning this strategy with organizational goals is critical to a company’s future success.
A study by SAP confirmed that omnichannel selling improved customer loyalty (64%), gave a competitive advantage (62%), and three-quarters of companies surveyed said that using several different eCommerce vendors and marketplaces had increased sales. Another study showed that adding a single additional channel increased retail revenue by 190%. However, omnichannel eCommerce comes with its own set of challenges that must be overcome to maximize the benefits to the company. These challenges include:
Inventory Management – ensuring accurate stock and price information across several vendors is an extremely complicated task, primarily when performed manually.
Transparency – near real-time information communicated from retailer to all vendors and customers is vital to a satisfying consumer experience.
Logistics – managing fulfillment and returns, invoicing and payments so that all customer commitments are satisfied is difficult to manage and track, while accurate information is required to respond to customer inquiries or complaints.
Evaluating, data analytics – Data must be gathered and analyzed to monitor benchmarks and key performance indicators of an operation. Useful data analytics across different channels, however, is impossible without a central data location.
eCommerce software can help to ease the burden of managing retail carriers and supply chains, with features that include:
1. Accurate inventory
Representing inventory correctly and distributing and updating that inventory across different vendor systems is a task that shouldn’t have to be done manually. The potential for error or delay in updating stock and pricing can have an enormous negative impact on customer satisfaction.
A study of UK retail by KPMG found that 71% of shoppers check stock before making a purchase, either online or in-store. Accurate, consistent omnichannel inventory is a must for sales and a superior customer experience. However, modern inventory management software exists that automatically updates inventory information, streamlines the inventory process, and improves efficiency while eliminating costly errors.
2. Cross listing at scale across various retailers
Ideally, an eCommerce solution will help a retailer easily list products across different online locations, with bulk import/export and automatic or manual updating of available products. For organizations selling in 20+ online stores or marketplaces, manually listing a handful of products and all the associated information for each can take hours. When all products are represented, with accurate information, a retailer can maximize the opportunity to make sales, without slogging through manual and redundant data-entry work.
3. Single, centralized platform
Controlling every channel at the same time requires a centralized dashboard for omnichannel eCommerce sales. Products, inventory, payments, and logistics are managed in a single place, eliminating any disconnect in the supply chain. All parties, including the retailer, marketplace, and customer have access to accurate, consistent, near-real-time information.
Maintaining a single, centralized platform also offers users the opportunity for data analytics. When there is dispersed data among different sites, it requires a great deal of effort to pull, translate, and analyze to turn it into actionable insights. However, a centralized data source simplifies the process, so analytics, benchmarking, and measuring KPI across channels becomes much more accessible.
Omnichannel eCommerce management software can also streamline processes for order management, invoicing, shipping and payments, reducing the amount of time required to manage and control fulfillment activities.
5. Customer service
Customer service expectations are higher than ever. Not only do today’s online shoppers expect low-cost shipping and free returns, but they also expect that any complaints will be addressed immediately and resolved with a single call.
A study by McKinsey found that 75% of customers expect help within five minutes, and another found that 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after a single poor customer service experience. Ensuring that your company is prepared to respond immediately to customer concerns is one way to keep carts from being abandoned and maintain repeat business.
An eCommerce management solution that has the capability of native platform messaging creates a seamless, fast mechanism for responding to customer inquiries or issues, helping to perfect the cross-channel customer experience. Ultimately, finding the right eCommerce solution can streamline and improve the efficiency of the entire omnichannel retail experience, from accurate inventory to logistics.
Additionally, the ability to respond quickly and effectively to customers on their chosen platform and use comprehensive data analytics to improve decision making can help a retailer to gain a further competitive advantage. eCommerce is complicated, and expanding to omnichannel requires a company to manage inventory, logistics, payments and customers across a variety of different sellers, each with their own listing, shipping and sales requirements. Retailers can minimize the challenges associated with omnichannel selling, while maximizing the benefits by adopting an eCommerce solution that streamlines the omnichannel process.