In every business there comes a point in time when every entrepreneur will ask themselves, “What can I do to increase sales?” Current trends and projections indicate the answer is to invest in omni-channel sales and marketing. This should come as no surprise given the continued growth and popularity of online retail.
According to Forbes “E-Commerce in 2018” article, current retail trends show that 51% of Americans prefer online shopping, with eCommerce growing 23% year-over-year. eCommerce is expected to change at an even faster rate as brands embrace the power of voice search and omni-platform/omni-device options. Voice assistants are already being used to make purchases by 40% of millennials, with that number expected to exceed 50% by 2020. This transformation of the digital retail landscape will only continue to grow as more consumers integrate digital devices into their shopping habits.
These facts indicate that online retail is not just a trend, but instead is becoming a preferred shopping option amongst consumers. This monumental shift in consumer behavior has many retailers scrambling to figure out how to convert their traditional storefronts into a business model more suited for omni-channel retailing.
What is Omni-channel Retailing
Omni-channel retailing refers to a growing business model in which companies adopt a multichannel approach. Omni-channel retailing seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience - whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a brick and mortar store.
Many traditional retail businesses are currently looking for more ways to penetrate the online market with as little overhaul of their current company infrastructure as possible. Big companies are discovering that the best way to enter or improve omni-channel retailing is to adopt eCommerce software and better supply chain management systems, while also placing greater emphasis on meeting customer expectations.
In the online world, people are fiercely targeted by online ads and messaging which has created a much more competitive landscape for online retailers. Because of this, it’s vital that companies make purchasing online as hassle-free as possible. Having efficient and effective software in place is the best way to enhance the customer’s experience without directly dealing with the customer.
According to Brightpearl’s “The State Of Omni-channel Retail Survey of Leading Retailers”, 46% of online retailers have stated that supply chain management is their most important retail growth initiative for the coming year, and are actively finding ways to improve upon their current systems and processes.
Online retailers understand that a seamless sales process is just the catalyst they need to gain a competitive edge online and that the only way they can do this is by implementing the right mix of systems and software for their business.
Finding The Right eCommerce Software For Omni-channel Retail
As I mentioned before, in order to gain an edge in today’s competitive online market, businesses have to aggregate systems and software that will empower their business to succeed on the omni-channel and eCommerce platform.
However, deciding what systems are needed in which areas of your business can be quite tricky.
For example, consumer trends show an increased desire for faster shipping and delivery of online purchases. This change in customer expectations is apparent by the recent actions taken by companies who are pioneering the eCommerce industry.
For instance, Amazon’s implementation of same-day shipping and the emergence of other same-day delivery services like Deliv and TaskRabbit show that consumers want their products to arrive as soon as possible with a high level of visibility over the shipping process.
Such demands place higher importance on inventory management with an emphasis on shipping. Companies will have to source software that streamlines their purchasing, receiving, and shipping processes while meeting customers increasing expectations and standards of online shopping.
When trying to create a great online customer experience, you want the customer to feel at ease throughout the entire process. Try to avoid creating any sense of anxiety for consumers after their purchase. You can do this by offering things like product tracking and updates on the status of their shipment, but that's just scratching the surface.
Consumers now have certain expectations while online shopping, and that leaves retailers with very little room for error in their warehousing and shipping logistics.
Where to Begin
Establishing a faster shipping method is just one example of how companies can leverage their supply chain to gain a competitive edge. Real online retail success depends on having the right integration of various logistics and eCommerce software.
Because omni-channel retailing necessitates the use of multiple sales platforms, it requires a large network of supply chain and eCommerce software. Trying to manage multiple systems that don’t integrate well can quickly become too complicated and too cumbersome to do effectively.
To be effective in omni-channel retailing, try performing a strategic evaluation of your current software systems and find a Warehouse Management System (WMS), or another solution that plays well with your other logistics and eCommerce software. This way your data can be aggregated into a single management software solution without spending a ton of time and money.
However, before looking around for more software, begin with an evaluation of your business’ current software and workflow. Focus on software like:
- Point of Sales (POS)
- Channel Management
- Ecommerce Platforms
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Don’t Break The Bank
These are the main softwares you want to integrate with each other. To integrate means the different software is able to “talk” and exchange pertinent information. The goal is to be able to aggregate the data from different softwares into one system.
This can be achieved by establishing a Virtual ERP. A Virtual ERP setup will give your business the essential functionality of an ERP, but at a much lower cost. Be careful, though. Some systems don’t integrate well with others and may cause lag or system errors if not done appropriately. To avoid this, have your tech guys look over the APIs for compatibility.
Any company that sells a product, regardless of their business model, must utilize at least a few systems in order to receive, manage, and distribute inventory. And when the right software meets the right WMS, magic happens.
Unfortunately, the cost of an ERP system can vary depending on the size and type of business using it, but implementation of this software alone tends to be a rather sizable investment. To give you some perspective, the average cost for a small business to implement an ERP system ranges from $10,000 to $150,000, and for a mid-size business, it ranges from $150,000 to $750,000 plus an annual renewal fee!
Implementing a Virtual ERP setup with the right eCommerce software can help you sell as if you have an ERP system, but at a fraction of the cost.
What is an ERP System?
ERP is an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP software operates as a single system that facilitates, manages, and integrates the different software within a business.
These systems perform such a multitude of functions that it’s difficult to provide a definition that accurately captures the totality of its capabilities. To get a deeper understanding of what ERP systems do, try to imagine if all the software and processes of each department in your company were managed within a single system.
Imagine, a software that is capable of integrating areas such as planning, purchasing, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, inventory and order management, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and more.
ERP software functions as one complete system that streamlines processes and information across an entire organization. ERPs even have a shared database that houses information gathered from different software within a business that would typically be segmented into different silos of information.
Pretty impressive, right?
Because ERP software streamlines and automates so many areas of business, companies that use it save a ton of time and resources. With this software, receiving, managing, and shipping is performed quickly and with little to no mistakes caused by human error.
This is great for the customer experience because it reduces mis-ships and out of stocks while increasing fulfillment time. When people have a positive customer experience they turn into repeat customers, leave better reviews, and will help create greater brand recognition. This results in gains in market share and profits.
So, how can you get these results without the lofty price tag? Let's find out.
Virtual ERP is a method where companies can manage their present systems and software by integrating them with a single management software, instead of getting rid of all those systems and processes for a bloated ERP system. This method avoids the hassle of implementing and learning a whole new system across every department of your business.
The Virtual ERP method is a much simpler approach that doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your current company infrastructure. Business owners and their managers simply have to import data from your current systems into a WMS and voila; you’ve got a Virtual ERP system.
However, when looking for a management system like this you will want to be sure that the software has an API that is compatible with your current systems.
Chances are, the software you have now will not integrate with each other without a management software, such as SkuVault. At SkuVault, we develop our warehouse management software with our customer’s infrastructure in mind. We strive to integrate with amazing software solutions in multiple departments to fulfill our customer’s logistics management needs with as little hassle as possible.
For example, SkuVault integrates with software like:
- POS system Lightspeed to ensure that the inventory of your brick and mortar stores is synced with your online inventory.
- Channel management systems like ChannelAdvisor who push real-time inventory quantities to your marketplaces according to what is physically happening in your warehouse.
- Shipping software like ShipStation which prevents human error and streamlines the picking, packing, and shipping process.
- And more!!!
Accounting, eCommerce platforms, and CRMs also integrate well with our software. Our open API allows for users to seamlessly integrate with other software and our highly trained service team is on hand to answer any tech questions or concerns you may have.
As entrepreneurs attempt to expand their business into omni-channel retailing, they need the right combination of eCommerce software and supply chain software to help them gain greater market shares at an affordable price. While ERP systems can be helpful when tackling omni-channel retail, there are other solutions out there that won’t break the bank in the process.
By combining the power of eCommerce software and supply chain software into a warehouse management solution, businesses are able to create Virtual ERP systems. Virtual ERP systems allow businesses to keep up with top competition for much less.
With the help of powerful integrations like these, companies who want to enter or improve their omni-channel retail capabilities are sure to increase efficiencies, improve their customer’s experience, and generate more revenue as they continue to grow their business.