Omnichannel: The importance of selling everywhere

As an online retailer you’ve probably heard this word many times.  It’s been thrown around corporate boardrooms as this year’s buzzword and as a result, by now you’ve trained yourself to mentally pass over it whenever you hear it.  Surprisingly though, not many people know what it means and even fewer know how it can be used to benefit them.  So, what is it and why is it important?

If we break the word down to its two components, omni and channel, we get a basic understanding of what the term means.  Omni means everywhere or all, whereas channel in this sense refers to a system for distribution.  So, we can loosely see that the term describes systems of distribution everywhere.  But what does that mean?

Well, in the early 2000’s when eCommerce was still a baby, we all thought that bricks and mortar stores would cease to exist as consumers started buying all their goods online.  To a large degree though, this didn’t happen.  Sure, we now buy music and books predominantly online but the fresh avo’s and that juicy cut of steak are still bought at your local Woolies and the shirt on your back was probably bought at a physical store.

Fast forward to 2016 however and you will notice one key difference, being information.  As a society, we are addicted to information and it’s now at the tips of our fingers – literally.  Cell phones have completely changed the way we do everything, including the way we shop.

Tesco Subway Store - Seoul

In 2011 Tesco bought advertising space on the platforms of the subway stations in Seoul and printed pictures of their fridges.  People then downloaded the Tesco app and shopped using their phone by scanning the products they wanted.  They could then get their products delivered to their house or collected in a store.

We have much more access to information than ever before and people are using it to their advantage when shopping by checking everything from product information to pricing and delivery costs, no matter where they are.

In a nutshell, omnichannel is about being wherever your customer is and giving the customer the same experience regardless of where they choose to buy your product.

Omnichannel, therefore, should be your strategy for a successful business long into the future.

Luckily, as a Shopify merchant in South Africa, many channels are handled for you, but they can only help your business if you use them.  Follow these steps to maximise your sales.

Install the Facebook channel

With Shopify’s Facebook store, your products will show up on your business’s Facebook page. 

For more info visit https://help.shopify.com/manual/sell-online/facebook

Use the Shopify POS to sell in person

98.5% of all retail sales in SA are still done in person.  Make sure your customers can reach you in a shop, at an expo or even at your office.  Let people buy from you in person. 

For more info visit https://help.shopify.com/manual/sell-in-person

List your products on bidorbuy.co.za

As uAfrica.com, we have developed a product that allows you to connect your Shopify store to your bidorbuy account to list products and manage inventory.  It’s FREE to signup and you get more exposure for your products which results in more sales.

For more info visit https://apps.shopify.com/uafrica-multichannel

Standardise your experience

Make sure that your customers are getting the same experience across all channels you sell on.  Check shipping rates, product information, customer service levels, etc to ensure your customer experience is uniform throughout. 

Not everything has to be integrated

Not everything connects to your Shopify store, so make sure you are doing the maximum that you can for your business by selling wherever you can, even if it means handling those sales manually.  Think takelaot.com, wholesale, internationally, etc.

Remember, this isn’t just for big corporates.  As a Shopify merchant you have many of the tools to give your customers an omnichannel experience, so start using them.