It goes without saying that the past 18 months have brought about many changes, and one of those more permanent changes being how and where we shop.
COVID-19 brought with it extended lockdowns that spanned across every state of Australia, and brought many retailers screeching to a halt and scrambling to move their stores online. And shoppers were one step ahead, waiting for them.
In fact, the 2021 Australia Post eCommerce Industry Report highlighted that online retail sales in Australia grew a huge 57% YOY last year, with 82% of households settling in on the sofa and making online purchases.
Retailers have either rushed to set up online stores or opened online-only businesses to take advantage of the rush in online shoppers — but the change to shopping methods has changed customer demands for more choice — and the real key to success isn’t a rushed website or a siloed online store.
The key to success is a unified retail experience that brings together bricks and mortar and eCommerce. To do this, you need powerful features to build a seamless experience for shoppers and staff.
But to do so, you first need to know what customers are expecting from retailers now and what eCommerce tools you’ll need to integrate your offline and online stores into one omnichannel business that stands above the competition.
Sound good? Let’s get into it.
As stores were forced to close or move online across the country, consumers only had one choice — to shop online.
But that didn’t quell their interest in shopping in-store once it became possible again. Instead, consumers have adopted an omnichannel approach and expected brands to keep up. Customers are not only likely to use up to 4.4 different devices before making a purchase but want the choice to come to a store and have a seamless experience when they’re there.
This is no longer a bricks vs clicks market where retailers can offer a siloed customer experience at every touchpoint — customers want bricks and clicks.
Instead of the more traditional multichannel model, they’re looking for an omnichannel experience, where they can jump seamlessly between their phones, laptop and online purchasing.
But both sound pretty much the same, so what’s the difference?
An omnichannel experience integrates your bricks and clicks to work for each other — bringing your eCommerce and in-store operations together to give customers more choice, more convenience and more personalisation.
The result? The Halo Effect.
It’s official — having a physical store increases your online sales. A physical store gives your brand more trust and increases their cognitive bias. If they have a positive experience on one channel (like in your store), they’re more likely to seek out other channels (like social media) and come back for more, increasing their brand loyalty and trust and your revenue.
Creating an omnichannel customer experience that’ll have customers coming back time and time again isn’t as simple as throwing up a website and capturing customers' email addresses to let them know when sales are on.
You need an agile website set-up and POS system that can integrate smoothly, sending real-time information to each other and automating the processes that enrich your customers’ experience.
It might feel like it’s impossible to read customers' minds and know what they want, but you only need 6 key eCommerce tools to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations.
A richer website user experience
Omnichannel order, inventory & fulfilment management
Real-time analytics & data
Personalised marketing & customer engagement
The right staff support & set-up
Having an online store doesn’t automatically mean more customers and more sales.
Your online store needs to give customers the same experience as your physical one. And ideally, that experience is smooth, easy to navigate and welcoming.
Not only should you replicate the same branding, promotions and product names as you do in-store, but you can use specific features of your eCommerce platform to increase convenience, highlight your brand trust and funnel customers through to their cart and onto a sale.
The shift to digital selling left many retailers scrambling to set up sites and avoid losing stock sitting in locked down stores. And ever since, customers' expectations for more choice when purchasing means it’s gone from being a need of the moment to a permanent necessity.
But omnichannel order, inventory and fulfilment management goes beyond uploading your in-store stock online. Adopting a truly omnichannel approach means you integrate all of your operations into one central system — and it’s a game-changer for your business and your customers.
Your customers have a larger pool of available stock to choose from, no matter what channel they’re shopping from. They also have multiple ordering and delivery options that will cut down your shipping costs and deliver products to the customer faster. And centralising these offers across channels and locations gives your customers trust that your brand will deliver every time.
So what are some of the omnichannel selling options customers are looking for from brands?
Fulfils an online order from the store closest to the customer, cutting down on shipping costs and speeds
A fulfilment option to use with Live Stock in Store, customers can choose to purchase an item online and pick it up from a store or warehouse location convenient to them
Give customers the option to order and pay for a product that’s not available. You’ll then generate a purchase order to your supplier and organise delivery or pick up with the customer
Use integrated fulfilment platforms like Shippit to give customers a choice for quick, tracked shipping to a delivery location of their choice
Split a customers order to meet their individual needs directly from your POS. Allow customers to pick up some items on the day, organise the delivery for others and place special orders all in one order
Open pre-order options online and in-store for products that have not been ordered yet. Set a pre-order close date and allow customers to sign up and receive an estimated delivery date before you make a purchase order for the amount requested
When you’re using one centralised stock pool, it’s important to always have the right stock levels available to meet customer demand. And the more channels you’re balancing, the more time you can spend ordering more stock. Enter automated stock replenishment. Having one centralised inventory management system like Retail Express allows you to automate purchase orders based on your Daily Run Rate, Previous Sales Periods or Minimum Stock Levels. The results? You can avoid under or overstocking just like men’s fashion retailer, Rembrandt, achieved.
Every retailer needs to make business decisions based on real customer and sales data, not guesswork or hunches. And adding channels and stores to your business only gives you more information to juggle and try to make sense of.
That’s why you need a system that allows you to track data easily and get real-time information in one place. Look for an eCommerce platform and POS system that integrates and offers powerful reporting. Access to real-time data doesn’t just cut down on manual tasks but gives you actionable information that leads to more profitable decision making and an optimised shopping experience.
Specifically, look for reporting features that allow you to access these metrics in real-time:
How many sales you’re making across every channel
Track your performance across promotions and stores
Understand how your pricing or buying approach is performing
Know your customers’ demographics, geographics and shopping behaviour
How much customers are spending per visit
How many items customers are buying per visit
Gain insight into which items are selling and better forecast replenishment
Iconic cosmetics retailer, Napoleon Perdis, knew that one of their biggest blockers to productivity was their lack of visibility and real-time data. With Retail Express, they were able to get one central view of their stock, sales and customer data — giving them back precious hours in sending information between stores and allowing them to make stock ordering and marketing decisions based on real customer purchasing history.
Shoppers are now paying with more options than ever. On top of credit, debit and bank transfers, the rise in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) platforms have introduced more purchasing freedom for eager customers.
And customers are expecting to get to the end of their purchasing journey and be met with every payment option possible — after all, the checkout process is where the majority of cart abandonments happen. Your eCommerce store — and physical POS system — needs to be equipped with multiple payment gateways to avoid cart abandonment and make it easier for end-users to complete their purchase.
Make sure your store offers the below payment options. If not, it’s a good idea to look into the transaction and set-up fees for each service and run the numbers to see if you can introduce it.
Give shoppers the option to log in or sign up for an account, or checkout as a guest. You’ll reduce cart abandonment and, if shoppers do get an account, you can save their shipping information for a quicker checkout next time
Repeat customers are the most valuable customers you’ll ever have. And what builds loyalty between a customer and a company? According to the latest Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report — it’s as simple as treating customers as individuals. In fact, 91% of customers said they would likely repurchase from a company following a positive experience.
But what constitutes a positive experience? 52% of customers today expect personalisation from companies they use and when it comes to service, 59% use self-service help portals while 43% love using chatbots to speak to staff.
Overall, customers are looking for individuality and a unique experience when they shop with a retailer. So, what can you do?
Set up personalised customer profiles to capture customer information from their first purchase and build detailed profiles with their order history, common purchases, and buying patterns
Create a loyalty program and use minimum redemption spends, points or bonus tiers to build your ultimate loyalty program to give back to customers and promote return purchases
Build marketing automation to nurture customer loyalty based on customer profiles and send our promotions to customers you know will want them
Use personalisation in your communications
Allow customers to create accounts and view their loyalty programs, update their shipping information and record frequent purchases
Set up responsive customer services across channels and platforms by using a combination of humans and automated services to give customers the choice of how they want to interact. Create FAQ answers for instant messaging platforms like social media or chat boxes and give customers prompts to access real-time support if they want to speak to someone
For high-quality lingerie company, Brava Lingerie, comfort, and personalised service was of the utmost importance. That’s why when they implemented Retail Express they set up customer profiles to allow customers to leave feedback on how their bras fit, meaning the next time they were in store staff could quickly access their feedback history on their POS system and find them their next perfect fit.
But they didn’t stop there; using product preferences and purchase history, Brava created personalised promotional newsletters that went on to increase their open rate by over 53% more than the industry average. That’s when you know you’re delivering what customers want.
A seamless, omnichannel eCommerce experience can only happen when all staff are properly trained on how each system, tool and mode of communication works. That means your setup and training are crucial to creating easy processes for staff to learn and pass on to customers.
Before launching any new tools, look into staff support, implementation and training for the following:
eCommerce platform set-up if you’re looking to move online or re-platform your business
Omnichannel inventory features i.e. Click & Collect, Ship from Store and Special Orders
In-store processes i.e. stock look-ups, on-floor purchasing or tablet use
Customer support platforms i.e. chat boxes, support portals, email and phone calls
Processing multiple kinds of payment methods i.e. digital wallets or BNPL
Look for an integrated POS and eCommerce solution that comes equipped with online training, staff-specific manuals, live demos and professional on-hand support so your staff can get up to speed and confident without taking days out of work to learn the system.
Without the right software partner, setting up a new integrated POS system or a fresh website can seem daunting for any retailer, and finding support can lead you down a tunnel of unanswered emails and multiple points of contact. For national arts, crafts and gifts retailer, Kaisercraft, implementing a new POS system across their stores meant training a large amount of staff. Which is why Retail Express gave Kaisercraft one dedicated point of contact and a structured implementation process to follow to get their systems online and staff trained quickly and easily.
Technology, business, customers — it's all changing faster than we think. And to continue keeping up with customers' expectations for businesses and how they use technology you need an agile, integrated system that brings together your POS system, eCommerce platform, supply chain and delivers a personalised experience.
Retail Express has built an ecommerce POS system that works smarter and integrates with every tool you need to future-proof your retail business, no matter what comes your way.
Made by retailers, for retailers, our software is designed to be agile and support you as your business expands or changes with the market. With order, stock and fulfilment integrations, smart algorithms, detailed customer profiles and reports — you can manage every channel from one centralised viewpoints and focus your productivity on exceeding customer expectations.
Prepare your retail business for the current and future landscape with a live, personalised demo designed for your business needs in-store and online.
Integrate your physical stores with Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and other eCommerce platforms
Automate your stock replenishment for an optimal inventory mix based on real customer demand
Give customers the choice of home delivery, store pickup and stock transfers online and in-store
Turn on Live Stock in Store and Instant Click & Collect to allow customers to see stock levels online and pick up in-store
Set up new payment methods and gateways online and from your POS
View real-time, cross-channel reports and analytics for stock, supplier and sales performance
Sync customer information between channels and send out personalised promotions to increase order value and return customers
Adapt quickly to market changes and prepare for anything with a cloud-based POS
Onboard your entire team with a fully-guided implementation by a dedicated success manager and online Australian-based phone and email support
We'll provide you with a personal Success Manager based in Australia to remotely onboard and guide you through the entire process, with all costs included in the setup.
Your Success Manager will help format and import your data, get you up and running, guide you with your hardware and everything else associated with setting up a new system.
Retail Express was designed to make best-in-class POS software affordable for all retailers- from single store to large multi-store brands.
Monthly fees starts from as low as $129/mo per store (plus setup).
Various pricing plans are available to best suit your cash flow and instant tax deduction goals.