During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our customers with brick and mortar businesses branched out into ecommerce sales. For many this was done out of necessity – with businesses closed nationwide many owners had no choice but to move their operations online. Now that businesses are slowly being permitted to reopen, many owners are facing the dilemma of whether to close their online operations or operate both online and off. If online sales have been successful for you, you might be reluctant to shut down your ecommerce store – but how can you manage both aspects of your business? Here are a few tips to help you run a successful multichannel business.
Analyze the Data
First things first – you have to know what’s working in order to know what you should focus on. This is harder than it sounds, especially right now. While your foot traffic has probably been quite low over the past few months, you can expect it to pick up a bit as states and municipalities reopen. It makes sense, then, to look at your in-person sales data from January and February, before the shutdown. Likewise, look critically at your ecommerce sales. While they may have saved your business from closing completely during the pandemic, are there enough of them to commit to a multichannel strategy moving forward? Do your research so you can make an informed decision.
When you’re making all of your sales out of one channel (your brick and mortar store or your ecommerce store), it’s pretty straightforward to keep track of your inventory. As long as you stay fairly well organized, when you sell an item it leaves your inventory and that’s it. Running a successful multichannel business requires that you take extra care to keep from getting your wires crossed. If you sell the last shirt in a size small from your brick and mortar store, how will your ecommerce solution know to mark it as “sold out” online? You may need to invest in an inventory management software solution. These can be pricy, so make sure you do your research before you sign up.
Combine Your Channels
Both brick and mortar and ecommerce stores have their advantages. The good news is that you can combine them to create an even better solution for your customers! For instance, customers love to shop online because they can do it whenever it’s convenient for them and ship their purchases directly to their door. On the other hand, going into a physical store allows them to see, touch, or try on the product before they buy. You can offer the best of both worlds with a multichannel solution. Customers can research and browse online, come to your store to make a buying decision, and still have the item shipped if that’s more convenient for them. It’s a win-win!
Use Social Media as a Middle Ground
While social media lives online, you can use it to promote both parts of your multichannel business. Add a “Shop Now” button to drive traffic to your online store, but also post about your in-store specials and sales. Showcase inventory that you’re offering exclusively online, but also offer customers the chance to “try before they buy” by coming to your physical location. Giving your customers options will increase the chance that you get the sale, one way or another.
Practice Makes Perfect
If the idea of running a multichannel business sounds overwhelming, take a deep breath. This is actually a great time to be making these kinds of changes. Foot traffic to your brick and mortar store will likely still be low for a little while, and consumers are more understanding and patient overall right now. They’ll appreciate the efforts you’re making to serve them through multiple channels. 360 Payments offers credit card processing solutions for all aspects of your multichannel sales strategy. Let us take care of your payments so you don’t have to – you can always give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website.
PS – Struggling with when is the right time to reopen your brick and mortar business? These tips will help.
PPS – Touchless payments must be a key part of your reopening strategy. Learn about them here.