Retail strategy in recent years has chosen to focus on an omni-channel approach, trying to make all channels be all things to all shoppers. When budgets are tight and resource is stretched, focusing on all areas at once can be a challenge, so should businesses be prioritising one channel over the other for growth and does it really matter where sales come from?
Once seen as a nice-to-have, eCommerce operations are vital for retail companies who have ambitions of surviving in the digital age.
However with eCommerce’s rise in importance when it comes to a company’s sales mix has become problematic for businesses whose roots are planted in their bricks and mortar background. With high street stores struggling for footfall and therefore sales, a focus on growing the online channel can often come at the expense of in-store investment.
The shift in focus can quite often lead to internal resentments, with online and offline channels fighting battles on opposite sides of the retail divide.
So how can you get both teams to work together for the greater good of shifting the bottom line?
Most of the friction from in-store sales teams when it comes to eCommerce is that they are incentivised based on sales through the store’s tills.
To alleviate this pain point, consider including complementary eCommerce incentives for in-store teams.
You could reward your in-store team for:
Similarly, you could incentivise the eCommerce and digital marketing team for driving footfall and revenue in-store from online activity.
When the digital marketing budget is directly measured on effective return on investment from orders placed through the website, there’s no incentive for a digital or eCommerce team to setup store-focused activity. By giving them a separate budget for store-focused activity that’s judged on different metrics, you could help them become more focused on the overall business sales growth.
You could reward your digital team if they increase footfall and sales from:
Another issue with the omni-channel approach is that store staff can assume their footfall and sales has been negatively impacted by customers shopping online instead.
While there will always be a percentage of customers who prefer online shopping to in-store, it’s not as simple as assuming that the website has ‘stolen’ the store’s sales.
If your eCommerce team is facing accusations from retail teams that this is what has happened, a simple report into sales from store catchment areas over a period time v the individual store’s sales trend should go some way to either disproving or proving this theory.
Keeping an eye on online sales in your store catchment areas can help you spot trends before they become an issue in your business.
You can also attach barcodes and in-store vouchers to any digital activity that involves a discount. Giving customers the option to redeem these offers in-store at the till point will allow you to track and measure the in-store effect of digital marketing activity you are running.
At the heart of it all is the aim to make sure the customer is able to buy your products, whether they are browsing your site or your shop.
Making it as easy for them to shop on the channel of their choice should always be your goal, so here’s some key things to think about:
If your stores offer benefits or experiences that can’t be replicated online, then you need to tell your customer why they should visit you in-store.
Your website and online marketing channels can help to highlight the in-store experience, so think about potential services your stores offer and how you can use digital activity to drive those customers in store if you have:
Customer choice will ultimately dictate where they choose to shop, and what channel is right for them. It shouldn’t matter to your business where those sales come from, as long as they come through your till. By giving the customer the option to shop via both channels, and making it as easy as possible for them to do so, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful omni-channel retailer.