Anagram Systems, a leading developer of business management software has advised that in order to compete effectively against larger businesses, small and medium sized retailers need to adopt an omnichannel strategy which unites online and offline sales.
As increasing numbers of people combine online research for products and services with calls and visits to a shop or branch, an omnichannel approach ensures that customers can make decisions and purchases via the retail channel that is most convenient for them.
Andrew Morgan, Managing Director, Anagram Systems comments: “In the last two years, we’ve seen a leap in the number of retailers which are adopting an omnichannel approach and are growing sales and customer satisfaction levels as a direct result.”
“Businesses which cater for the fact that people now shop in different ways, moving between online and offline retail channels before making a decision, are providing the gold-standard shopping experience that consumers and business buyers now expect as standard and take for granted.”
Recent research* has revealed that eight out of ten consumers now user a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology such as a searchable electronic catalogue while shopping and researching products and services ahead of a purchase.
Business with plans to adopt an omnichannel strategy must therefore think carefully about their existing IT infrastructure and the technology required to engage with customers who access different channels using a range devices including desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Until recently business owners considering the adoption of an omnichannel strategy faced a number of obstacles. These included investment in website shopping cart functionality, front-end and back-end systems required to capture sales and customer information, and crucially, enabling personnel in different departments work more closely together.
Recent advancements in technology and the accessibility of sites such as eBay and Amazon, however, have made it easier and more affordable for small retailers to implement the systems that underpin a successful omnichannel strategy.
Business management applications like Encore from Anagram Systems centralise all business data within a single system, helping improve the flow of accurate, up to date customer data between different users. This is key to minimising the mistakes that are common in businesses which use multiple software systems and ensuring all orders and customers enquiries are recorded and managed accurately and quickly.
Encore also provides real-time integration with a businesses’ website, enabling business users to manage sales, stock and customer information. Centralising this information within a single system is key to providing joined up customer services; an essential pre-requisite of every successful omnichannel strategy deployment.
Morgan concludes: “The good news for small retailers is that they are often more agile than their larger competitors and can make changes to internal processes and introduce new technology in a short space of time.”
“This agility combined with more affordable business management systems like Encore means small businesses are able to implement an omnichannel strategy very quickly. As a result they are able to grow their market share and compete against much larger business.”
Anagram Systems is a market-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provider with more than 30 years’ experience of developing integrated front and back office systems for SMEs in the UK and USA. The company supports more than 2,000 companies worldwide.
*Mastercard Insights: The Omnishopper has arrived, 2015