Fifty years ago, every step of the retail journey took place in one building. Choosing your product, asking for help and then paying for it could all be done within a few hundred yards of each other, but things are very different now. The different stages of the retail process are increasingly being spread over multiple platforms and often include a digital aspect. So many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and think that introducing an online element, a mobile shopping app or a pop-up shop is the right thing for them. In certain circumstances, they’re right. But that isn’t always the case. If you do want to start selling through multiple channels, make sure you’ve thought it through first.
Do Your Customers Want It?
The first thing you should ask yourself is if your customers actually want you to start selling through multiple channels. If your customers are primarily younger people, they’ll be accustomed to using alternative buying channels. Click and collect orders are becoming increasingly popular because they combine the ease of online shopping with the quick turnaround of buying something in-store. However, if you cater to the older generation, they probably prefer browsing in the store where they can see the products up close rather than picking online. If you start introducing click and collect or online shopping in favor of a well-stocked shop, you might alienate your customer base.
Can You Accommodate It?
Setting up a multi-channel retail service isn’t as simple as just opening an online shop and waiting for the sales to start rolling in. You’ll need professional merchant services to make sure you’ve got a proper merchant account that can process payments from all of the different branches of your business. You’ll also need to hire more staff to oversee the new selling channels otherwise you’ll be overstretching the staff that you already have. If you can’t afford all of this, your attempts at trying to extend your business will be a failure because your ecommerce channel won’t be giving customers what they need.
The amount of products that you can afford to produce is also important. If you open an online shop alongside your physical premises and it starts selling well, you don’t want to end up taking stock from your shop to meet online demand. That will only alienate shoppers because it will make you look like you’re struggling to stock your shop properly which won’t inspire trust in potential customers.
Consider Single Channel
When you open some new retail channels you might find that they’re far more profitable than your existing channels. That could just be an indicator that you should have changed your business model earlier and single channel retail is best for you. It might be difficult to admit defeat, but there’s no point continuing with branches of the business that aren’t performing properly. Give it a year or so and see how each aspect of the business is performing. If you shut down some of the less profitable ones, that will free up capital that you can invest in the more successful ones and drive your profits even higher.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that every retail business needs multiple branches, in some cases, it just isn’t the right decision.