The last 18 months proved to be trial by fire for physical operations and eCommerce retailers alike. The former struggled to stay viable amid shutdowns and new safety protocols, while the latter experienced an explosion of unprecedented growth.
More companies than ever now have both in-person and remote shopping and purchasing options. Tight margins are leading to innovation in manufacturing and shipping processes, with small batch, on-demand, drop-ship, ship-to-store, and curb-side pickup options proliferating as consumers change the way they buy and receive products.
B2B companies are also experiencing a paradigm shift in their approach to aisles and marketing. Many are becoming hybrid organizations, serving both B2B and B2C customer bases. Whether you’re working one-on-one with a sales rep in person, or dealing with a customer via online channels, having all of your data at your fingertips is key.
Physical and Digital Are Colliding
The point at which the physical world and eCommerce meet has become a crucial touchpoint for many sellers. Being able to provide a seamless customer shopping experience is the primary focus of companies trying to straddle the divide.
How do you maintain a strong presence in both the physical world and the digital one, reconcile your inventory and accounting processes, and deliver a customer experience that is equally satisfying in either realm?
The secret is increasingly likely to be found within your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. When properly selected and implemented, your ERP can bridge the gap between your brick and mortar and online presence, ensuring a single point of truth for all data.
Connecting All of the Dots
With an ERP, all front ends and back ends across your company’s platforms are finally connected. Each physical sales location or showroom, mobile application, and online web page becomes capable of tying back to the exact same inventory, pricing and delivery information. It’s the most effective way to create and deliver optimized customer experiences.
See online, buy in-store
Some customers see a product online, but want a hands-on experience before they commit. Accurate inventory across all selling points can tell them if the size and color they want is physically present at a location near them, allowing them to make an in-person trip to verify and complete their purchase.
See in-store, buy online
Alternatively, a customer might see something in a store, but the size or color they want isn’t available. No problem: they can go online and order exactly what they want and have it conveniently shipped to their home.
Being able to both campaign and provide service across multiple channels has become a critical differentiator, and can help you stand out from competitors while maximizing revenues. A study by Omnisend revealed that the purchase rate of campaigns utilizing three or more channels is 287% higher than single-channel campaigns.
eCommerce and mCommerce
Heading into the next few years, the two channels to watch are eCommerce and mCommerce. Both are becoming an integral part of marketing and sales, whether you’re running a B2B operation, a B2C shop, or (as is becoming more and more popular) a hybrid company with multiple sales funnels.
According to estimates from eMarketer, worldwide eCommerce sales will reach $6 trillion by 2024, and will account for nearly 22% of all retail sales. Global retail mCommerce sales are anticipated to reach nearly $4.5 trillion by 2024, accounting for almost 70% of all eCommerce retail revenues.
With an ERP in place, you give consumers the ability to:
- Place an order from anywhere at any time
- Search items by name, brand and location
- View product descriptions
- Verify product availability
- Review order history
- Track purchase shipping journeys
- Receive recommendations for new, similar, or complementary products based on order history
ERP and eCommerce integrations allow you to unify all sales channels, streamline and standardize fulfillment, and maintain a single source of accurate, real-time data for all connected systems.