Omni-channel Strategies are Omnipresent in Today’s Competitive e-Commerce Industry

Icon of the facade of a shop store or cafeLast week we discussed the e-Commerce Trend of Going Mobile, which is just one part of the next trend that is spreading like wildfire in our industry – the omni-channel strategy. As the prefix omni suggests, it means putting your brand and merchandise out there everywhere it is possible – physical storefront, the Internet, and, of course, the mobile channel. Let’s talk about how small businesses can implement the other two parts of that omni-channel strategy.

First, the physical storefront

In the not so distant past, small business entrepreneurs who wanted to open a store to sell retail goods had only one option, a brick and mortar store. Some still do start that way, but many today don’t have the capital or feel the need to open up a Main Street location when the Internet offers them so many affordable possibilities for reaching so many consumers. But the brick and mortar store still has value because let’s face it, some consumers want to be able to see and feel the merchandise before they buy. Not to mention the brand benefits of people passing by your store signage every day.

Does this mean you need to go out and find a vacant storefront and sign a lease? Not necessarily, and especially not if that isn’t feasible with your budget. But there are certainly some creative ways you can fulfill this prong of the omni-channel strategy. For the small business or start up retailer, think portable physical storefront, such as a kiosk in a local mall or along Main Street, a booth at a weekend farmer’s market, or even a small area in a consignment store or multi-vendor market. If those ideas aren’t possible, consider reaching out to other store owners to arrange to sell your merchandise in their brick and mortar shop, with your brand well placed and well displayed. Just make sure you let your customer base know where and when they can visit your new “storefront.”

Second, the Internet

The flip side are the mom and pop shops who only have a physical storefront but want or need to expand beyond that because let’s face it, sometimes consumers just don’t have the time to GO shopping and prefer to surf the web for their purchases. If the thought of this fills you with anxiety, it shouldn’t. With the right distribution plan in place, one that takes care of the merchandise storage, order fulfillment, and distribution, the Internet affords such businesses a wide-range of affordable opportunities for cracking into the e-Commerce realm.

For starters, you can open your own e-Commerce site, complete with virtual shopping cart and all. These can be easily integrated into your distribution center’s warehouse management system so that it is completely seamless to your customers and doesn’t disrupt your brick and mortar operations. In addition to or instead of your own site, depending on your budget and your business plan, you can become an e-Bay vendor as a way to offer your merchandise on the Internet. Another option is to explore conglomerate websites that sell a wide variety of different vendors’ merchandise, such as Amazon, which offers various vendor levels from simply selling your products as an individual vendor handling the back-end on your own or using their Fulfillment by Amazon option for handling the complete process for goods being sold on their site.

If you are looking for growth for your retail or e-tail venture, most experts agree that the omni-channel strategy is your best bet. Need more information about how to implement such a strategy? Contact our team today because at Distribution Direct, we have the experience to assist small businesses in making the wisest choices for their brick and mortar, website, and mobile storefronts, as well as advice and tips for working with manufacturers, shippers and the major retail conglomerates.