The struggle between online and offline retailers is ever-raging, and whilst eCommerce took a predictable lead during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s starting to look like physical stores are regaining their ground.
But, as people return to their pre-pandemic shopping trends, it’s important for brick and mortar retailers to consider how the landscape has changed over the last two years.
Consumers have become accustomed to how they’re treated by online stores, and the convenience offered by being able to sit in one place and find everything you need with ease.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still create an enjoyable and attractive experience for your in-store customers through intelligent use of point-of-sales (POS) systems and stock management.
And, if you have an accompanying online shop or are thinking of creating one, it’s worth considering how you can maximise your omnichannel effectiveness.
The Challenges of Brick & Mortar Operations
Different channels come with different challenges. For eCommerce, it might be that your stock doesn’t update fast enough, resulting in a customer purchasing a product that has run out.
Fortunately, in brick and mortar shops, you can’t grab something off a shelf if it’s not there. But they do come with their own difficulties, particularly around POS and stock.
Visibility of products
The layout of shops is so important that large businesses employ people just to arrange products in the best way possible. But SMEs often don’t have the budget for that, and if you have a store with a lot to offer, it can quickly become intimidating to customers if they struggle to find what they’re looking for.
That can lose you customers. For supermarkets, 49% of shoppers will go to a competitor if they can’t find what they need – and it’s not unlikely that it’s true for other types of businesses, too.
Brick and mortar stores don’t have the benefit of an easy to access search bar, and whilst you do have the benefit of sales representatives able to answer questions, it’s not efficient if customers need to enquire about every item they’re looking for.
When you’re browsing a website, the price you see is what you get. It’s easy for eCommerce companies to instantly update all of their pricing so it’s visible to the customer, based on new offers, discounts, and deals.
With brick and mortar, how you advertise your deals and pricing can be a lengthy process with the possibility of error.
You could end up still displaying a discount which ended a week ago, or failing to advertise a great deal on an expensive product, leading to fewer sales than expected.
Failing to replenish shelves
It goes without saying that you should always have your shelves fully stocked if there’s products still available in the back of your store.
But on a busy day it can be easy to overlook empty shelves, leaving customers disappointed and forced to go elsewhere.
It’s also important to stock your shelves with different colours of a product if available. Many will assume something only comes in one variant if that’s the only thing they can see.
How Can Integrated POS and Stock Management Help?
As an integration provider, Patchworks is always looking at problems and devising intelligent ways to solve them.
In fact, the solution to many of your issues is right underneath your nose. You already have the data and resources, you just need to access them.
By integrating different systems and solutions within your brick and mortar store, you can build an offering to rival your eCommerce competitors in the experience you give your customers.
Real-time stock insights
Worried about how quickly items are flying off your shelves during busy periods, but don’t have the staff to constantly check the entire store for shortages?
A properly integrated POS system can monitor how much stock you have in a specific period of time, and will update in real-time as items are sold.
Some systems will let you input the amount of stock that’s on the shop floor. That lets your staff stay constantly informed about how much is still in storage, and how much is customer facing.
And, when a customer does approach a sales representative to see if there’s more stock in the back of the store, you eliminate the lengthy process of having to go check. They can simply check their monitor and see immediately what’s in stock.
By integrating a POS and automated inventory system for your store, you can effectively manage your layout and optimise where your stock goes.
That gives your staff a standardised view of where to put products, and where to find them when already placed.
With that, you should be able to offer a simplified and convenient experience for your customers where they can easily find what they need.
You could even take it one step further and consider integrating a digital catalogue with your shop, so customers can view on an in-store interface or their phones and see the exact location of products. That’s especially helpful if you run a large business.
Trying to advertise your sales in-store is always going to take a bit more effort than if you operate solely online.
However, there are a few ways to achieve a more efficient operation through integration. You can take the chance to connect a powerful marketing automation system, which sends an SMS or email to subscribed customers to let them know when exclusive discounts are available.
And behind the scenes, a good POS system will alert your staff if an item being bought is also part of a bundle deal. That way, they can inform customers about offers they’ve missed and maximise the success of a promotion.
It’s Time to Think Omnichannel
There’s only so much you can do if you restrict yourself solely to brick and mortar operations.
At Patchworks, we like to promote the idea of iCommerce – or That’s about collecting and using data intelligently, but it’s also about thinking carefully about the different channels you use to sell your products.
Omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of store visits from customers, so it’s worth looking into an integration provider who can help you set up solutions which apply to all of your channels.
That could include a website, apps, or selling products on third-party platforms such as Amazon. By focusing on omnichannel, you can expand your audience and focus on specific segments; for example, someone buying an expensive item might prefer to shop in store so they can try it on. But, for cheaper options, they might choose convenience and shop online.
To make sure all of these operations are seamless, you need diligent and powerful data integrations.
For more information on how you can integrate an effective omnichannel operation, visit the Patchworks website for a free consultation and demo of our platform.
Read more about our end-to-end solution, InStore, specially designed for Brick & Mortar retailers!
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR BRICK & MORTAR RETAIL SOLUTION, INSTORE, AND TALK WITH ONE OF OUR CONSULTANTS!