The effects of COVID-19 on the high street and retail will be far-reaching, long after the storm has calmed. As well as social distancing measures being predicted to be in place in some capacity for months, it has forced many people into changing the way they shop. Unlike the doomsday predictions such as ‘death of the high street’, commentators believe this will prompt many small retailers to address their overreliance on being purely bricks and mortar.
There has been an argument over the past few years around ‘Brick and Mortar vs. e-Commerce’, suggesting that one is always superior to the other. The argument shouldn’t be whether e-Commerce will eclipse bricks and mortar, the argument should be; how can e-Commerce support bricks and mortar? Make no mistake, diversifying your business offering is a high risk move for any business and takes time and commitment from the start. However, the reward at the end of this is greater. With lots of readily-available tools and software to get selling online, the current restrictions offer the perfect opportunity to open a small store up to an online audience while many high streets are putting a pause on business rates.
1. A wider product offering
Often, online retailers may not store or technically own the products they sell, but rather use a third party to do this for them. As you aren’t obliged to maintain your own stock in your own warehouse, it unlocks the possibility of offering a wider product range for your customers – allowing you to compete with bigger names in e-Commerce. If you use drop shipping, it is also worth choosing a provider who has an Order Management System such as Access MintSoft, as this allows you to White Label your goods to make them appear to be directly shipped from your store. Focusing on these little details mean that the customer experiences continuity and it strengthens your brand.
2. Always open to your customers
When choosing to venture into online shopping platforms, it’s wise to consider making it possible for orders to be fulfilled 24/7. This doesn’t mean you need to sit at your laptop at all hours, but it does mean an OMS would be a good option to help deal with e-Commerce hours of demand. For example, if a customer purchases something your shop is selling through Etsy late one evening, an OMS will take care of the paperwork for you, without you having to worry about being in front of your laptop. In a world where consumers are expected to be able to purchase 24 hours a day, it makes sense to use software that helps you provide this service to your customers.
3. Easy inventory management
Rather than having to rustle through the back of a shop to check how much you have in stock, an OMS would automatically update the stock levels across all marketplaces you are selling from. Not only this, it automatically picks the cheapest shipping option for that item and creates a picking order to send onto the warehouse. That means, no chance of overselling an item and your customer gets a seamless and speedy buying journey – meaning they’re more likely to buy again.
Alongside making your inventory management easier, it also helps you analyse your inventory at the click of a button. You can view straight away if an item is popular, and if it isn’t, and proactively adapt to the demand to increase your online footfall or web traffic. The reporting tools also work with marketplace by giving you live snapshots of each platform, meaning that you know where your profit is being made and use resources and inventory more effectively.
4. Multiple marketplaces = global audience
The most obvious benefit of selling online is that you can sell through unlimited marketplaces. The audience is there, but they won’t all shop on the likes of Amazon or eBay. By having an OMS that makes it easy to sell across an array of marketplaces, it’s more likely you’ll reach the potential wider audience. If you operate multiple brands within your business, an OMS can also make this process simple and help you keep a track of each brand.
There’s no need for it to be difficult to manage multiple marketplaces, and that’s why Access MintSoft is designed to be easy. Developed with e-Commerce in mind – it means that it’s quick to get going, and simple to use.