Multichannel Retailing: Your Step to Engaging Customers Online & Offline
Customers have ample ways and mediums of shopping – offline and online channels. Sticking to traditional selling channels or brick-and-mortar stores is not enough. It is also crucial that you also sell on multiple channels to stand out from the norm. In view of the same trend, many businesses opt for multichannel retailing. In this blog, we shall discuss multichannel retailing in length to help you make an informed decision.
What is Multichannel Retailing?
Multichannel retailing is a strategy to offer products and services to customers via multiple sales channels. These sales channels include physical stores, brand websites, marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Let us understand multichannel retailing with the help of an example.
Let’s talk about brand B. Its business strategy includes online and offline selling and third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. Brand B has an official website from its customers can make purchases. It also has hundreds of offline stores nationwide to help customers purchase online. Besides, brand B also sells its products on marketplaces as well. The brand’s customers can visit the website for product details and the nearest offline store. They can then visit the brick-and-mortar store to purchase the product.
Challenges of Multichannel Retailing
Let us now take a look at the considerations to make before you decide to adopt a multichannel approach:
Inventory Coordination Across Channels
Since each channel is independent of others in multichannel, coordinating inventory across all channels is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. This will involve a lot of manual work – whenever there is a change in inventory in one channel, you will have to update it in the other channel manually.
In the example discussed above, suppose brand B runs out of a particular product, and he updates the same on his website but forgets to update it on the marketplaces. Now, if a customer orders the same product, the brand must either cancel the order or keep the customer waiting. In either case, it will lead to a negative customer experience.
Multichannel retailing is an expensive business investment. Marketing and advertisement are already a costly affair for a business, and when done for multiple channels, it is going to be expensive. Starting multichannel retailing is not expensive, but the cost of advertisement and marketing can be costly.
Benefits of Multichannel Retailing
Let us now take a look at the benefits multichannel retailing has on offer:
Increased Revenue and Profits
Spending a lot of money on advertising and marketing to establish brand awareness won’t help if your customers have a single channel to make a purchase. You need to reach out to more customers via multiple channels to increase revenue and profit. Also, a presence on various channels leads to higher conversions. Customers can browse through different channels, compare prices, research, and make informed decisions. They can make a satisfactory decision which ultimately leads to enhanced customer experience.
Increased Brand Recall
Customers who are familiar with your brand won’t hesitate in buying from you. But it will be difficult for customers who have not heard of your brand name before. With a presence on a single channel, all your customers would be forced to purchase from a single channel.
Multichannel retailing will not only provide your customers with multiple ways of buying with you, but it will also increase your brand recall value as well. If your customers see you on multiple channels, it enhances brand awareness. Your customers are, thus, more likely to remember your brand – leading to an increased brand recall.
Valuable Data Collection
With multichannel retailing, you connect with your buyers via multiple channels. You can use data to interpret sales channels that your customers prefer and determine which part of your business work. Thus, you get access to comparatively more customer data. Additionally, you can compare sales from multiple channels to know where to double your efforts. Not just sales, but you can also compare products – which product worked better on which channel. You can decide which product to promote on which channel and save on marketing costs.
Omnichannel VS Multichannel
As discussed above, multichannel is selling on multiple channels. When all the customer journeys are synchronized across all channels, it becomes omnichannel retailing. A customer can continue his journey on the new channel from where he left on the previous channel in omnichannel retailing. Thus, many businesses prefer omnichannel over multichannel to give their customers a unified and enhanced experience.
While multichannel provides your customers with multiple options, omnichannel retailing does the same with an enhanced customer experience. Thus, many businesses prefer omnichannel over multichannel these days.
Businesses experiment with different strategies to generate more revenue and grow their business – multichannel and omnichannel are two such strategies. A presence on multiple channels can help increase your reach and expand your business capabilities.