22nd November, 2022
If you’re a large retail outfit looking to put your best foot forward online, there are a few things you’ll want to prioritise, writes Kellie Byrnes.
Often information about selling online is aimed startups and young businesses keen to establish a digital presence and generate sales via the internet.
Larger, more complex operations have differing goals and needs, not to mention alternate challenges to overcome than smaller businesses in the digital sales space.
Whether you operate a brick-and-mortar venture and want to move online for the first time or have already been generating some income from eCommerce, there are ways to maximise sales and drive growth.
You must create consistent branding across all channels if you sell through multiple channels such as bricks-and-mortar, a website or online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
That means looking for ways to make a clear customer experience that spans all of those locations.
Your logo, tagline, business branding, marketing strategies should all be considered.
This way, whether people go into a store or office or check out your online store or social media pages, they can tell they’re dealing with the same company and will have clarity on what your firm offers and how you can help them.
You may have well-established brick-and-mortar facilities generating impressive sales annually, but when you move online, remember that you may have different target markets in different channels.
Some of your products may sell better online, while others will run out the door of your physical store.
As such, creating sales strategies will help guide you and your team on what to sell, where and in what quantities.
Often this involves quite a bit of testing and measuring, but you should soon start to see patterns emerge, particularly if you have an integrated inventory management system that gives you a complete view of your stock quantities, locations and turnover rates.
Growth is hard to achieve if you don’t have adequate processes in place, so it’s vital to concentrate on developing and streamlining these in many operational areas.
For example, when you have a bricks-and-mortar business and then move online, or only operate online but have multiple warehouses and offices serving the venture, you should take care that information gets shared in real-time across locations.
You don’t want customers to receive the wrong goods, fail to receive items or get told incorrect information because there are issues with how the different areas of your organisation communicate.
One of the best ways to avoid these situations is by deploying technology to help you manage customer service enquiries, complaints, and more.
With a CRM, you could set up a help desk ticket system all teams log into to input, view, and action updated data and customer service requests.
Or, you might enable customer service functions (such as refunds or exchanges) to be handled online as well as in-store so people don’t have to go into a physical site to get these tasks done.
These tools carry information about your stock on hand and ordering, giving you visibility across the entire range of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) and can integrate with a CRM and eCommerce platform.
With the right setup, inventory management will also give you insights into how best to supply and price each of your sales channels, both online and off.
When you need to migrate a lot of product and customer information from on-site locations to digital ones, or from one online sales platform to a new one, data migration tools can help, too.
For example, when Staples, the North American stationery supplies company, needed to create a better eCommerce platform, it faced a massive catalogue of data to move.
However, the retailer was able to make use of Shopify’s technological expertise to make migration easier.
The eCommerce platform boasts an import app that comes free with every Shopify account.
It handles product, customer, and order data. Plus, data can be moved manually with support from the company’s Help Centre.
When you have a virtual distribution setup and sell online via one or more channels, you can save time by using tools that integrate all types of information into one place.
Instead of learning to use and paying for multiple software products, take advantage of a comprehensive ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.
Such platforms allow you to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management information with sales data and bring marketing, operational, human resources, accounting, and finance details under one roof.
This creates full visibility across your business. The information can be saved to the cloud and accessed from anywhere, enabling global workers in your operation to see and use details at any time.
Don’t forget to consider how your back-end processes fit into this picture as you expand online.
Reduce manual overload for yourself and your accountant by using automated eCommerce data workflow solutions that automatically download daily, weekly, or monthly activity reports.
Many of these platforms, like MYOB Advanced Business, bring together accounting, financial reporting and ERP functionality in a platform that can integrate directly into popular eCommerce providers like Shopify and BigCommerce.
The result is a complete business management platform for reconciling sales, noting fees and service charges and whole-of-business financial reporting.
Go through all your operational functions to see if there are areas you can streamline to reduce wait times for customers, lower bottlenecks, and free up time for your teams to work on other things.
Another way to drive growth is to look for ways to create an ‘omnichannel’ strategy for your business.
An omnichannel strategy essentially means you have the capability to fulfil customer needs at every possible touchpoint, whether it’s on social media, over the phone, via emails, contact forms, physical stores, eCommerce, and so on.
Australia’s oldest plumbing merchant, Tradelink, used the popular eCommerce platform BigCommerce to enable it to seamlessly connect and adapt to its various B2B, B2C, and B2G environments.
It used the flexibility of the platform’s technology to deliver an online storefront that delivered a shopping experience to rival its in-store browsing and buying paths.
BigCommerce enables lots of plug-in versatility, so Tradelink uses numerous third-party apps to cater to different needs.
For example, the business has integrated plug-ins that handle customer reviews, marketing automation, and merchandising, among other things.
There’s also a virtual showroom on the website that enables consumers to browse and then connect directly with a company consultant.
The eCommerce landscape has become increasingly competitive as more consumers become comfortable spending their money online.
To get the most out of your online sales strategy, you’ll need the best available systems to support it and that means bringing together the best of inventory management, CRM and eCommerce front-end management available.
For large retailers, merchants and distribution businesses, that means considering a full-featured ERP that gives you complete visibility across sales, purchasing and financial reporting.
And, with MYOB Advanced Business integrating with eCommerce providers like Shopify and BigCommerce, there’s now an ERP that’s fit for your ambitions.
MYOB Advanced Business is a customisable cloud ERP system offering real-time visibility and control. Find out more or book a FREE demo today.