What Exactly Do We Mean By Multi-Channel Retailing?

By Timothy Foxx Neal

Multichannel ecommerce

Retailers can be forgiven if they remain unsure about how the internet is fundamentally changing their business. In a desire to explain, industry commentators and service providers create ever more jargon to describe the increasing influence of technology on the retail landscape. Over the past few years terms such as multi-channel retailing, cross-channel retail and now even omni-channel retailing have been used to explain these changes. But what does all of this mean practically, for you and your business?

The important thing to appreciate is that these changes (and associated terms) refer to the multiple routes that consumers are taking to identify and consume the brands, products and services they demand. Whether it be via a traditional print advert in their favourite magazine or geo-targeted txt adverts delivered to their mobile phone, consumers are searching for, connecting and interacting with businesses in more ways than even before.

In recent years the fastest growing sales channel has been online retailing, or ecommerce, which has rapidly established itself as a necessity for successful retail operations. Driven by the proliferation of super-fast broadband it has itself spawned new channels including mobile commerce and social commerce, both of which are now shaping the future of the retail industry.

For independent retailers all this can be too much to navigate; a constant barrage of jargon and buzzwords fails to clarify how you should apply the technology to better connect with your customers and increase sales. Many get lost in the fog and lose confidence, particularly during these times when every investment has to be carefully scrutinised.

Although entering into ecommerce can seem daunting, the fundamental elements for success reflect those of a high street store; great products plus fantastic customer service equals a great customer experience. The first step when entering into multichannel retailing is to establish an online sales channel via an ecommerce store that reflects your unique brand and service. For those with an existing high street presence this is a channel that means you can target customers beyond your immediate vicinity at a fraction of the cost of opening and running an additional retail outlet. Furthermore it will help to complement your existing shop(s), helping you to attract people in-store who find you via local search engine results, and providing new and existing customers with the convenience of shopping with you online as well as in-store.

You may then look to explore further sales channels that will, in turn, add value to your business. A good ecommerce platform will provide you with a mobile channel (mcommerce) as part of your online shop, enabling you to target the growing number of consumers who regularly browse and shop online via their smartphones, and tablet computers, such as iPhones and iPads.

Understanding the principles of multichannel retailing and how they can be applied to your business is the first step to realising the huge benefits that online retailing can bring to your business.

For more information on multi-channel retailing, and how to create a successful ecommerce store contact Liquidshop.com today on 020 7099 1002.

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