As more and more consumers do their shopping online, a lot of brick-and-mortar stores have adopted the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” strategy, by setting up shop on the web. If you’re thinking of following suit, here are a few steps you should take:
Determine the best ecommerce route for your business
The right ecommerce solution will depend on a number of factors, including the type of store you have, your audience, and your resources. Some businesses prefer setting up shop in online marketplaces such as Etsy or eBay, while others would rather build their own website.
It’s generally easier to set up your store on existing marketplaces, but you likely won’t have full control over all the elements of the site. Also note that not all marketplaces are created equal. For instance, while apparel or arts and crafts may do well on sites like Etsy or Storenvy, these marketplaces aren’t ideal if you’re selling say, power tools for men.
Do your research before signing up for an ecommerce solution. Most of these sites have examples, case studies, or client references, so you may want check those out and see how similar stores are doing. Also get some feedback from your customers. Do they frequent sites like eBay or Amazon or would they prefer to go to the store’s website directly?
These are just some of the things you must consider before setting up your store.
Integrate and automate
Once you’ve decided on an ecommerce route, the next step is figuring out how your sales channels (i.e brick-and-mortar, ecommerce, consignment, etc.) should talk to each other.
Selling through multiple channels is great because it opens up additional revenue funnels and gives customers more flexibility with how they shop. The not-so-great news is that without the proper integration, things can get confusing, fast.
Managing data--such as inventory, sales, orders, and customers--from multiple sources is a challenge, and if you don’t have the system to properly sync information across all your data sources, you could end up wasting time and committing a lot of mistakes.
That’s where Vend and Stitch come in.
For the uninitiated, Vend is a point-of-sale, inventory and customer loyalty software that makes it easy for brick-and-mortar retailers to set up, manage and grow their business. Stitch on the other hand, is a solution that integrates multiple sales channels, so that users can manage inventory, orders, and reports from one centralized spot.
Together, the two solutions can help brick-and-mortar stores expand their business online and on other channels. Say you own an apparel store but you’re also selling on online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. With the Vend/Stitch integration, the data coming in through your POS and online accounts can be accessed and managed from Stitch so you won’t have to switch from one program to the next.
The same goes for selling through your own ecommerce site. Stitch integrates with ecommerce solutions such as Shopify and BigCommerce so you’ll be able to stay on top of your online and offline stores.
Key features: inventory management and reporting
Managing inventory for a brick-and-mortar store is challenging enough as it is. And when you factor in other locations and channels, it becomes a massive and time consuming task. Stitch makes cross-channel inventory management easier by syncing your online and offline inventory in real-time.
It also offers additional functionality with its integrations. For example, if you’re running your store using Vend, you can enable Stitch to pull stock orders from the POS and create corresponding Purchase Orders. That way, whenever you receive Stock Orders in Vend, Stitch can automatically push the newly received quantity up to other connected channels.
Once you have your inventory and other systems all set up, you can make sense of all the information through Stitch’s analytics features. The service provides nifty reports and charts that let you view data in aggregate or by specific channel, so you can see how each or all of your stores are doing.
Recognize the importance of investing in the right tools
Running a multi-channel business is no cakewalk, but with the right programs, keeping your business humming becomes immensely easier.
Vend and Stitch are just two examples of the solutions you can adopt. Be sure to check out other tools that can help you grow your business. Not sure where to start? This list of retail apps can point you in the right direction.