In our last blog, we discussed ‘omnichannel retail’, what it is, and why you need to start thinking about how to turn your organisation into a true omnichannel retailer. Online sales have been growing steadily year-on-year for the last twenty years, and COVID-19 has only accelerated that trend. We can’t know what this year will bring, but we can be sure that online sales will continue to grow and grow for many years to come.
It’s no longer enough to operate a traditional bricks-and-mortar business. It’s not even enough to branch out and have an online business too. Shoppers are increasingly expecting retailers to have fully integrated online and offline operations which provide a seamless, unified, cohesive user experience. If a store doesn’t have an item in stock, customers expect the staff to be able to tell them if it’s available online instead, and vice-versa.
Of course, it’s impossible to become a true omnichannel retailer unless your online and offline systems are fully integrated. Below we’re going to be discussing some of the many benefits that true omnichannel EPoS integration can bring for your business.
Merging your channels: the benefits of integration
Integrating your product information means that stock added to the EPoS database is visible across all of your channels, both on- and offline. It also gives real-time stock data at every sales point, reducing stock holding and helping to avoid “out of stock” orders, while giving you real-time access to your stock across locations to prevent overselling. In addition, it removes the need for overnight polling or updating stock on the website manually. Instead, you can set automated stock replenishment based on both online and in-store sales, and you can access stock information and business intelligence across your online platforms. With the right set-up and integration, this can even include third-party marketplace sites such as Amazon and eBay as well as own your e-commerce site.
Integrating your on- and offline EPoS systems allows you to add in-store stock information to your e-commerce site. This means that customers can see if local stores have the item they want in stock, and most e-commerce platforms allow you to add click-and-collect options. At the same time, your in-store staff will be able to check at their till to see if something is available online that’s sold out in the shop. All of this gives your customers more choice and makes it easier for them to find and buy the products they need, rather than giving up and going to one of your competitors.
As well as making it easier to buy from you, integrating your EPoS systems makes your life easier too. You can merge online and in-store customer accounts, and consolidate and centralise data, helping you to provide the same high level of service across all of your sales channels. It also means that customers will be able to benefit from your customer loyalty scheme regardless of how they make their purchase, increasing customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Integrating with an Accounts Package
OK, you can see that integrating your EPoS systems brings many benefits. That’s great, but… how do you actually go about integrating your systems and transforming your business into a cutting-edge omnichannel retailer?
It can be an awful lot easier than it sounds; by integrating your EPoS system to accounting packages such as Xero or Quickbooks. This can help save you a lot of time since it means you don’t have to move all of the data manually from your online system to your in-store one, or vice-versa. At the same time, it reduces the risk of human error creeping in. They can also provide you with real-time financial information based on all your sales, both on- and offline.
Integrating Even Further
We’ve had a look at the many ways that integrating your EPoS systems can benefit you, your business and your customers, but there are even more ways this can help.
Did you know that 83% of shoppers would prefer to buy products locally rather than purchasing them online if they know that they’re available in a nearby store? NearSt is an award-winning company, offering an invaluable service to retailers. Their innovative technology allows nearby shoppers to see your products when they search for them in Google and lets them know where you are. When the customer enters their search, they will immediately see your products. They can then click on them to see information about the product and your shop.
However, to take advantage of this incredible service, your online and in-store EPoS systems need to be integrated. This allows NearSt to access all of your stock data, and present it to the many potential customer searching for the products you sell online.
Online sales are growing and growing, and the current situation is only accelerating that trend. It’s no longer enough to be a single-channel or even a multi-channel retailer. However, to upgrade your business and become a genuine, omnichannel organisation, you first need to ensure that your EPoS systems are all fully and seamlessly integrated. Fortunately, there are ways of doing this easily and painlessly, and once you have done so, you and your business will start to reap the many benefits that it brings.