How Modern Omnichannel Retail Platforms Drive Sales

May 22, 2024

The advent of e-commerce introduced a clear divide in retailers rooted in brick-and-mortar sales. Retail systems were siloed between in-store shoppers and their online counterparts.

As time went on and ecommerce grew in popularity, the split between in-store and online operations grew greater — and more challenging to resolve. Legacy systems are difficult to integrate, and internet POS systems are new technologies that continue to evolve. From a functional standpoint, businesses saw the separation between their retail platforms easier to manage than to try and align.

Then the pandemic happened.

Customers not only flocked to online retail to conduct their shopping. They were also dependent on combining both experiences by buying online and picking up in store (also known as BOPIS). As consumer habits remained well after the pandemic ended, retailers can no longer afford to  manage two retail systems. An omnichannel solution is crucial to staying competitive.

Why a Broken Customer Experience Damages Your Business

Attempting to nurture the divide between your online and in-person retail systems delays the expense of bringing two complex systems into alignment. But your business still faces the high cost of maintaining these two systems.

From the perspective of your customer, buying a product online or in stores remains fundamentally different. When shopping online, customers can access the full breadth of your inventory when considering a purchase. However, once they’re in the store, they have no visibility into what else is available.

If they like a product but need it in a different size, they not only find it’s not available at their location. They also discover the store’s associates don’t have an effective way to look at inventory, see where an item is available, and have it shipped to them. Frustrated and unable to find what they need, a customer may later make a purchase from your online store. Or, they will simply shop with your competitor on their way home.

The Internal Costs of Divided Retail Systems

Maintaining separate online and in-person retail systems defers the expense of an omnichannel system, but it also adds up to extra expenses and resources for your organization. Even if the customer experience remains aligned, you have to support two internal teams to maintain both systems because each requires different skill sets. Your technology teams are constantly putting in a lot of added work to keep both environments in sync and running smoothly.

Just as costly, stores with divided retail systems often end up in necessary competition with both sides of their business. In-store locations require staff as well as executive leadership who oversee sales performance. As the cost of in-person business goes up, those expenses come out of your brick-and-mortar locations. But online stores don’t have the same overhead. The revenue from those sales is siloed in the digital portion of your business, which drives more investment into that part of your organization.

Meanwhile, the in-person experience continues to decline and creates friction as one part of your organization competes against the other. Bringing your retail systems together with an omnichannel system creates more alignment for your organization while also enabling a more efficient use of your budget.

An Omnichannel Retail Platform Benefits Customers

Forward-thinking retailers are breaking down the silos between their operations and opting for enterprise-class retail systems. When you work with the right software partner, modern POS systems allow you to create a single platform that serves both your online and in-store experience.

Along with aligning payment services and approvals for credit card transactions in-store and online, modern systems build a bridge between your online and in-store experiences to enhance your business. 

Just as importantly, an omnichannel platform creates a wealth of customer benefits, including the following:

  • Shared shopping cart services: Unify the customer experience by leveraging the shopping cart across both environments. If a customer comes into the store after browsing online, they can access their cart to see any items left behind and complete their purchase.
  • Accurate inventory visibility: A website that wrongly shows items in stock at a customer’s local store creates a frustrating experience. Customers either end up taking time to ask an associate for help finding the item or going to another store. An omnichannel system creates better alignment between store inventory and online shopping to eliminate unnecessary trips and improve customer loyalty.
  • Curbside or in-store pickup of online purchases: Customers no longer want to spend time visiting multiple stores to get what they need. They either want to see all of their purchases can be completed online or picked up seamlessly in the store after making their selections.

Drive Sales and Loyalty with Omnichannel Capabilities 

For the majority of retailers, migrating to enterprise services for their online and brick-and-mortar stores constitutes a major investment. But the seemingly high cost pales in comparison to what you stand to gain: a seamless omnichannel experience that drives customer loyalty and bolsters your bottom line. 

Typically, retailers needing to create alignment between their retail systems will pursue a POS refresh to enable more omnichannel capabilities. These projects are just as challenging to develop because POS systems have already weathered incremental changes over the years and aligning them with online platforms is a complex undertaking. But when you’re working with an experienced partner, you can modernize your system without weathering downtime in your daily operations.

At Kitestring, we specialize in approaching these modernization projects by starting from a user-centered perspective. We look at the jobs to be done at the point of sale in your retail environments and match those needs with the systems needed to complete those tasks. It requires an experienced team of program managers, store operations experts, and POS architects to identify the risks and requirements and plan a realistic implementation. Fundamentally, you need a team who has seen it all and will ensure all your systems align and run smoothly in front of your customer. If this sounds like an approach that will help your business, we should talk.