Retailers that operate both online and at bricks and mortar locations can enjoy a raft of benefits compared with their pure play e-commerce counterparts, but there are also pitfalls that need to be identified and avoided in this context.
To that end, here is a look at the most common complications encountered by online/offline retailers and the solutions that are available to tackle them.
Syncing inventory across multiple channels
If you are unable to track and monitor your inventory across your website and your physical stores then this could create consternation amongst customers, especially if an item is listed as being in stock on your site but is actually sold out at your real-world locations.
The easiest way to overcome this is to invest in multi-channel inventory sync services which are specifically designed to deal with the potential fragmentation that might otherwise exacerbate the situation for ambitious retailers in the modern marketplace.
Overloading on e-commerce features
The saying ‘less is more’ is not always applicable to the retail sector, but it definitely has a part to play in shaping an effective e-commerce adoption strategy, since it is entirely possible for companies to go overboard with the features they add to their websites without actually stopping to think about whether or not customers will actually benefit from them.
In the short term at least, it makes sense to aim for simplicity with your e-commerce web design, ensuring that it gets the basics right. Studying customer usage habits and considering their needs will let you know whether or not certain features are superfluous, and can be toned down or trimmed altogether.
Making decisions reactively
Bricks and mortar retailers that also have an online presence are not always going to have a management team that is experienced in the e-commerce world, which can create a situation in which decision-making only takes place as a reaction to subpar performance metrics, without a real understanding of where the faults lie.
One way around this is to make sure that your online presence is benchmarked as precisely and frequently as possible, with lots of performance indicators and relevant metrics taken into consideration. This will help to demonstrate which changes, if any, will likely have the best impact, and avoid the temptation to make sudden strategic shifts without solid grounds for doing so.
Keeping physical stores and e-commerce sites separate
Last but not least, one of the most widespread mishaps which multi-channel retailers stumble into is that of failing to properly integrate the online experience with the advantages offered by having bricks and mortar stores as well.
Effectively integrating the two, so that online customers are encouraged to visit stores in person and vice versa, is sensible, especially as the practice of showrooming is so commonplace today.
Ultimately you should be in a strong position to see gains online and in-store, so long as you manage both platforms in tandem rather than seeing them as entirely separate from one another.