as a business imperative. With mandatory restrictions on in-store traffic, and customer reluctance to venture out to a public establishment, offering mobile and internet-based sales may be the only way some businesses can maintain viable revenue streams. Embracing a broad scope of channels without exhausting resources is a challenge that can best be met with cloud-based eCommerce eServices.
Magnifying Presence Through Cloud Services
An omni-commerce view of business embraces a range of potential channels, from traditional in-store, to fully online, to almost any combination in between. Seamlessly integrating eCommerce with both in-store and mobile can help a retailer not only survive the current downturn but to be better positioned to build a stronger and more resilient business. In considering the multiple options which could elevate success, cloud-based services afford the best opportunity for delivering flexible service selection and deployment that accelerates eCommerce.
Robust cloud services include a variety of options that propel revenue. Yes, eCommerce should include online ordering capabilities, but the more advanced platforms can manage integrated marketing and sales campaign tools, proven business development programs, and tightly integrated and field-tested processes that can add efficiencies and boost performance – without requiring significant hardware, training, or personnel investment.
Creating A Comprehensive Customer Experience
It is important to keep an open mind about how business should be conducted in the current environment. Even just one year ago, many retailers relied mainly on foot traffic. Now, the world of commerce has changed dramatically, and a more comprehensive approach for sales and fulfillment is required. Local customers may still account for a majority of sales, but the way these consumers make purchases has changed, and unless the business adapts to this digital age, it may not survive.
Each business is unique, so there is no right way to implement a deployment that will work for every situation. However, some common best practices will help retailers to improve sales while strengthening customer relationships through eCommerce. Solutions should focus on:
- Consistency. Provide consistent messages, products, options, and methods to help end-customers research and purchase across all channels.
- Flexibility. Solutions should meet customers where they are comfortable, enabling selection, purchase, and fulfillment functions across channels.
- Continuity. Allow end-customers to research online, move to mobile, and purchase in-store if they choose. Make sure those customers can easily move between channels and platforms without loss of continuity or information.
- Security and Safety. Offer secure payment options including contactless and ensure website commerce and mobile apps employ verified secure technologies to protect private information. Acknowledge customer safety concerns while offering socially distanced, touchless fulfillment options and convenient delivery services.
While expanding customer access and opportunities to do business, it is also wise to look inward and consider ways to leverage cloud technology to improve productivity and efficiency throughout the organization. Digitalizing sales channels creates an opportunity to modernize inventory and warehouse operations, demand-driven ordering, accounting and business management functions, and fulfillment operations. By leveraging the flexibility of the cloud, merchants can enhance and streamline business processes well beyond sales activity—when and where it makes sense.
Unifying online and in-store payment acceptance systems can provide one level of efficiency in bookkeeping, but when done through the cloud, the benefits multiply. Cloud-based services easily support all sales channels and open the door to effortlessly accepting alternative payment methods, such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, across the enterprise. This can increase customer satisfaction and remove barriers to purchase that can arise if a preferred payment method is not available everywhere. Unifying payment modalities also can enhance overall security by eliminating redundancies which might create cracks that could be exploited by bad actors. Just like the deadbolt on the door to a physical location, securing payment acceptance and processing is paramount. Accessing all payment services through a single cloud provider enhances security and eliminates the merchant’s burden of selecting, deploying, and maintaining disparate systems – all activities which take time away from doing the business that pays the bills.
Building For The Future
Retailers and merchants should embrace eCommerce as a growth strategy rather than a short-term fix. This expansion of business channels provides an opportunity to bolster business through offering the best of online, in-store, and mobile shopping experiences and be ready for the next wave of change.