Multi-Channel Retailing has come of age. Consumers expect access to product information and transactional capability from their favorite retailers, and, they expect it to be efficient, accurate and delivered in the same way that they would expect to be served by that retailer. Fundamentally, multi-channel retailing, when delivered well, cements your customers' loyalty to your brand. If delivered badly, can cause your consumer to shift to your competition...
The web is the source of most pre-purchase consumer research regarding product, price and promotional offers. A transactional website alone should not be viewed as the answer to all your prayers, but it is an absolute must have in a world where visiting the shop is like visiting the showroom, to browse, experience and interact with product. The point of purchase decision itself may have taken place in the store, after many hours of research on the web, but the website often serves the most convenient method of transacting the sale for many consumers. And it is for this reason that the consistency of customer service delivery across all channels will be one way to secure your customers ongoing loyalty, and secure your position.
In today's economic climate it is more important than ever that retailers eliminate activities and processes that don't focus on customers. For many that's not just about reducing costs but looking at how to develop and implement customer centric growth strategies. With consumer shopping habits constantly evolving the Internet is being used by customers to seek out the most compelling propositions, brands and values. Providing a cross channel experience that really matters to your customers is critical to success.
There is one other benefit of developing more volume through internet channels to market rather than through stores - and that's that e-tailing has been proven to be a more optimal routes to market, both on the pure profitability and on a 'green' point of view.
- Considering the profitability aspect, with increasing retail rentals the opportunity to push more of your sales through transactional websites is very cost effective. It can remove the need for additional store presence and can allow for exploitation of a product area you would find it difficult to accommodate in the store space.
- Considering the environmental aspect, as Carbon Footprint becomes a consideration for your more well informed customers it is possible that alternate channels to store based retailing could herald the new way to be green. Those retailers who have an efficient fulfillment operation, who utilize existing transport routes, are saving on the 'green costs' of operating a store and enabling consumers to save on the fuel costs of going out shopping...
But in both areas, profitability and environmental, it is worth remembering that there are other less transparent costs such as the management of the reverse supply chain. It is well documented that returns through non-store based retail channels are significantly higher than in-store. The impact of this increase over recent years, as consumers have shifted their preference to the convenience of the online purchase, has lead to the increased need for reverse flow processes and practices.
- While these are costly processes in their own right, is the cost of reverse logistics to retailer outweighed by the cost of operating stores, and in terms of both carbon footprint and hard cash?
- Does the low-cost front end sales process of the alternative channels to market, out-weigh the higher cost of after sales service?
- How to maximize in channel effectiveness, while offering consumers multi-channel options to conversion?
- What is the impact on Brand Equity in transitioning from single channel to multi-channel retail options? How do you preserve and ultimately expand Brand Equity in this process?
These are some of the questions Comprehesive Computer Consulting, Inc. can help you answer when developing and exploiting your multi-channel strategies. Please give us a call for an initial consultation.
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