If someone came up to you and said “You know how running a business is hard enough? Well, how about you add some extra work on top of that?” you’d probably politely, yet firmly, ask them to leave you alone. When it comes to the omni-channel approach, it can definitely add up to extra effort, but it can also be well worth your time.
But where do you start? Do you need to hire a webmaster to design and build out an e-commerce site for you? Does the answer lie with large, online shopping websites like Amazon or Shopify? How exactly will this help you gain traction with your customers? Or, is there a better option you haven’t considered?
Understanding Customer Expectations
Omni-channel is typically driven by the customer; what the customer wants, the customer gets. Reading your customers to develop a deeper understanding of their expectations will be the first determining factor of omni-channel compatibility with your business. This must include gauging their comfort with using technology, whether it’s an interactive POS-enabled tablet or an app from which they can make an after-hours purchase for later in-store pickup.
Accomplishing this can be as simple as in-store questionnaires or as complex as mining customer data to determine purchasing trends and customer behavioral patterns. The dynamics around crunching customer inputs will largely depend on the technology you already have on hand. Businesses with next-gen POS solutions have a nearly limitless treasure trove of data, whereas those that are using legacy POS systems will need to rely more on physical customer interactions and feedback to determine the potential for the omni-channel approach.
Above all, it is important to place yourself into the shoes of your customers. Are there certain products that are more likely to be ordered when the lights are off, and if so which of these are best suited for delivery vs. in-store pickup? Close your eyes, and picture yourself seeking your best-selling product at 10 pm on a Sunday night. How would you want to interact with a business offering this product? Would you feel comfortable ordering from a mobile app, a website, or to wait until the next business day to drop into a store?
This applies to restaurant owners as well, in particular, cafes and QSRs. Presenting customers with the option to pre-order their morning latte via mobile app the night before, with a scheduled pick-up time, is beneficial for you and your customers. The customer knows they can walk in, walk out, without delaying their morning commute and avoid standing in a rush-hour line. You can better plan staffing and traffic flow through your business, which aids in keeping the line moving and increased customer satisfaction for those that did not pre-order.
Do Your Product Offerings Have Versatility?
A key characteristic that needs to be looked at is how your products will be received with an omni-channel approach. Some products may fly off of your shelves, but that does not necessarily mean that this translates into omni-channel success. There are some product offerings, such as toiletries, boutique items, and even gift cards, that may be a smashing success when offered in an omni-channel format.
This ties in closely with understanding what exactly your customer base will expect from an omni-channel offering. If your customers associate online ordering with gift or bulk purchases, and your product line does not fit the bill in either of these categories, the approach of your business might not go as well as anticipated, even if you offer a variety of shipping or store pickup options.
Knowing your business from top to bottom, and meshing this data with customer input and behavior observations, will provide you with the clues you need to determine where an omni-channel approach could work for you, or if you are better off letting this trend pass. Even if you are sure that your customers will be receptive to the idea, and that your products are aligned with omni-channel, it doesn’t mean that you are ready to go. This is where tech comes in.
Can Your Tech Handle an Omni-Channel Approach?
Adding omni-channel in your business requires you to refresh your POS solution if it is to be successful. The technological enhancements that you need can be as simple as reaching out to a POS provider and upgrading a level or two, or it can be as complex as replacing a legacy, spreadsheet-driven system with a high tech solution that changes all aspects of your business.
Many businesses shy away from these big changes, but avoiding change can leave you in last place. Your competition is advancing by leveraging innovative technology. POS solutions that include rich features, such as transaction logging, staff management, inventory tracking, and omni-channel capabilities are a priceless addition to your business operations. The custom reporting available to you makes it easy to determine if omni-channel is a realistic option for you, or if there are alternate goals that must be met before taking this path.
When you partner with talech, we devote our time to identify your business challenges and work with you to apply a solution that brings you a concisely design POS solution for an omni-channel approach. Our goal is to leave you feeling confident knowing the system you’re implementing gives you the results you desire. Reach out to us today to sign up for a demo and to learn more about how talech can be your valued POS partner.