Today’s consumers shop across multiple channels. They switch from online to offline channels to research and buy products as they please. To keep up with customers’ expectations, retailers are implementing multichannel selling strategies.
However, executing a multichannel retail strategy is difficult. You must understand the multiple places you need to be for your consumers and the multiple suppliers you need to integrate into your business. Along the way, it’s easy to make mistakes that can kill your success.
So, before you start your multichannel strategy, take into consideration these 10 common mistakes that retailers make when starting a multichannel business.
10 Common Mistakes Retailers Make That Kill Their Multichannel Selling Success
Retailers must prepare themselves beforehand when managing a multichannel business. Here’s some mistakes to avoid.
1. Picking the wrong systems
Whether it’s your ERP, POS, eCommerce platform, or 3PL, you use different software to run your business. Not at all retailers realize that some systems are better equipped for multichannel processes than others. Choosing the right system will make a big difference in whether you run a smooth multichannel operation or not.
To understand what systems are best for multichannel, check out our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide. The guide discusses important processes needed to handle multichannel retail and what system does it best.
You don’t want to sink all your time and resources into an expensive system like an ERP to find out that it’s not a good fit for a multichannel business. You’ll be stuck with buying another ERP or limiting your business to your current system’s capabilities.
2. Underestimating Manual Entry
Multichannel selling requires sharing inventory, product, sales, and shipping data across different systems. Online orders must be put into your ERP or POS.
When first starting a multichannel strategy, retailers often underestimate the time it takes to manually enter orders across their different systems. This process can take hours. It’s time taken away from more important things, like your customers. You’ll also be prone to human error that can lead to typos in delivery addresses.
At the beginning, you might be able to get away with updating sales data by hand. Don’t plan on being able to do that forever though. As your business grows, merchants need a multichannel integration solution, which brings us to our next point.
3. Choosing the Wrong Integration Solution
A robust multichannel strategy requires integrating your systems. This allows for important data from your channels to be synced automatically across your channels.
There are many ways to integrate your front-end systems with your back-end systems. Solutions include point-to-point connectors, custom built, and multichannel integration platforms. It can be difficult to choose the solution that’s best for your business.
Without the right resources and research, businesses can choose the wrong solution. It wastes time and your customer experience can suffer. Check out these resources to help you choose the right solution:
- 10 Signs That You Need Multichannel Retail Integration
- How to Choose a Shopify-ERP Solution
- Choosing a Magento-ERP Solution for Your Business
- eCommerce ERP Integration: Why Retailers Should Integrate and How to Do It
4. Using the Same Product Content Across All Channels
Some retailers are tempted to use the same product information across all their channels. They use the same exact listings for Amazon, eBay, and their website, for example. Doing this though can set your customer up for a bad experience.
Each channel is different. It has its own audience and unique requirements for product information. It’s not best practice to use the same copy for each channel.
Instead, multichannel retailers should use a Product Information Management application to consolidate product data to make it easier to list products to different channels. This allows you to make listings tailored to specific channels.
5. Selling in the Wrong Channels
Just because you can sell on a channel, doesn’t mean that you should. Merchants should only sell on the channels where their customers are. Multichannel doesn’t mean blindly focusing on being everywhere.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin by choosing too many or the wrong sales channels to sell on. Only sell on what makes sense for your business. If you’re looking to expand to new channels, consult this guide to understand what channels are the best opportunity for your business.
6. Failing to Optimize Your Supply Chain
The success of multichannel retailers depends greatly on how well you optimize your supply chain. Multichannel selling comes with increased sales and fulfillment demand. Customers expect to have fast, free, and accurate delivery of their products.
To do that, merchants need a good grasp on how to best integrate with their suppliers and back-end systems. Processes like drop shipping and distributed order management can be tricky. Merchants need to plan ahead for optimizing the supply chain.
7. Not Updating Data in Real-Time
When automating data, merchants shouldn’t rely on anything other than real-time updates. Some merchants try to get away with updates every day, half hour, or 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to pay less for this kind of service.
Updating data is key to delivering a better customer experience. For example, inventory levels should be update immediately across all channels when an item sells. This prevents overselling. You won’t face that uncomfortable situation of telling a customer you can’t ship an item that they thought they bought.
Real-time updates are critical for flash sales, holiday shopping, or anytime you experience rapid sales.
8. Thinking Multichannel Selling is Easy
By now, you have probably come to the conclusion that multichannel selling isn’t easy. It’s difficult to implement a front-to-back multichannel strategy. It encompasses all of your customer touchpoints and all the “behind the scenes.”
It takes a thoughtful vision and dutiful preparation to set your company up for success. Multichannel selling won’t be easy, so don’t think it will be.
9. Confusing Multichannel for Omnichannel
Omnichannel has been the buzzword over the past several years. It’s been heralded as the future of retail. But, don’t confuse omnichannel with multichannel. These strategies are not interchangeable.
An omnichannel retail “strategy” insists you be everywhere-all possible channels. Multichannel instead focuses on being in the multiple places where customers are (read not all channels). It’s about building a strategy that integrates front-end to your back-end so merchants can specifically address today’s challenges in retail.
Using omnichannel as the basis of your strategy will lead you down the wrong path. Read more about why we believe omnichannel is a buzzword, and multichannel is a strategy.
10. Not Making Customer Experience the Focus of Your Multichannel Selling Strategy
Today’s competition is fiercer than ever. Customers choose brands that create the best experiences for them. If you want to be successful, customer experience should always be your top priority when you make a business decision. If you do that, you’ll avoid many, if not all, the mistakes listed above.
Well, there you have it. While undertaking a multichannel strategy can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Preparing yourself with these problems we talked about above will start you off in the right direction. Good luck!