By Ruth Richter • June 14, 2019

Remember when the highlight (and hallmark) of your teenage years was going to the mall with friends? Whether you frequented Spencer’s or Claire’s, or were the darker Hot Topic sort, going to the mall was always an adventure.

Now malls are turning into ghost towns. At least ten major chain stores have announced they will close select store locations or close altogether in 2019. Some of these include Victoria’s Secret, JCPenney, Family Dollar, Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, and even GAP. Many of these stores cite the popularity of online shopping as the reason behind their closures.

If brick-and-mortar stores can’t survive on their own, it might be time to turn to ecommerce. If you’re only operating your business out of a physical retail location, you too may need to strongly consider becoming multichannel and adding ecommerce to your business.

The Brick-and-Mortar Advantage

It’s true that physical store locations do have some advantages over seeing an item on the screen. In person, it’s easier to judge fit, quality, fabric, weight, size, and any number of other physical characteristics that a product page on a website might struggle to translate via text and pictures.

Customer relationships also play a big part in the success of a brick-and-mortar retail location. Moving solely to ecommerce certainly does change the dynamic of your customer relationships, and long-standing connections could go by the wayside, or worse: to the competition.

Amazon Gets Physical

Interestingly enough, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has existed quite successfully just on the web since its inception in the mid-90s. Yet, in 2015, Amazon launched a physical bookstore in Seattle, Amazon Books. Next, Amazon bought Whole Foods, adding 460 stores across the United States, Canada, and Britain.

Then in 2018, Amazon opened Amazon Go, the cashier-less grocery stores.

So why is Amazon, the top ecommerce business, moving into the so-called dying brick-and-mortar space?

Moving to Multichannel

Amazon understands a lot about how people shop. That means they understand that consumers do not shop exclusively online or exclusively at physical retail locations. They like the option of both, depending on their needs, schedule, company, and product availability. Most of us still prefer to do our grocery shopping ourselves, because we know exactly how green we like our bananas, a distinction that is difficult to translate through a computerized order.

Shoppers love choice, and multichannel commerce is the way to meet that choice.

Prepare for Multichannel With the Right Systems

Multichannel commerce brings its own set of challenges, of course. Your systems need to be able to keep up not only with the inventory changes in your retail location, but also the mouse clicks and orders placed online. You’ll need to set up returns processing, shipping procedures, and the most robust inventory management you’ve ever had.

But, don’t let that scare you away. If technology can make your product available to someone halfway around the world who never would have been able to visit your retail location, technology can help you stay on top of the systems and processes necessary to expand into ecommerce and build your multichannel presence.

You may need to begin with some data flow diagramming to understand what data needs to go where in order to maintain a smooth flow of information. An ecommerce platform such as Magento 2 or Shopify can help you quickly and easily set up your new ecommerce storefront. Then it’s up to you to connect all those data sources and, even there, you have technology help.

Connect to Multichannel With IN-SYNCH®

IN-SYNCH by ROI Consulting is a powerful Sage 100 integration solution, able to connect ecommerce platforms, Sage 100 ERPs, CRM systems, warehouse management systems, and third-party carts together to keep data flowing quickly and accurately between all your systems. As soon as an ecommerce purchase is made, your system updates to reflect the order processing, set up tracking, and change inventory. Ring up a purchase in store, and inventory levels adjust to ensure that no one online can buy more than you have in stock as of right now.

When it comes to building a multichannel presence, IN-SYNCH integration ensures you’re ready for anything. Partner with ROI Consulting’s experts today to start your multichannel commerce journey and stay at the forefront of commerce success.

Ready to launch your multichannel experience? Contact ROI here or give us a call at 402-934-2223, 1.