What is omnichannel retailing and why do we do it?
What the heck is omnichannel retail?
"Omnichannel retail" is a huge disruptive trend in retail at the moment. This refers to how consumers (read: real people with busy lives like the mums and dads who come into Baby Box) are increasingly looking online as well as in store before coming to a purchasing decision.
That could mean checking out a show room then making a purchase online, or reading reviews of a store on Facebook and considering who the founders are and what they value before deciding to step inside.
What have we noticed about how people shop for baby products?
We're quite lucky in a way that we are parents ourselves, so we already have a bit of insight into how we shop and how our friends shop.
We know so so so many of us look at so much information before deciding how to buy, or what to buy. This may involve:
- Talking to your Plunket nurse or someone who you trust about whether your baby actually needs *this* or *that* item.
- Googling and reading about it, on a number of websites. Particularly blogs or online reviews, but also on retailers’ websites if they have good descriptions.
- Asking a Facebook group about it.
- Seeing it on Facebook, in an ad or post or something, or shared or liked by a friend, and thinking “that looks kinda cool”.
- Visiting a real life shop.
That last step is usually only taken after you've weighed up whether it's worth doing.
We love talking to our customers, and we often find that when we ask "how did you hear about us?" or "how did you hear about Haakaa?" (or whatever the brand is that they're after), factors like those above are relevant.
How have we implemented an omnichannel strategy?
One of our long-term goals is to shortcut that research process by consistently offering great value to customers, so that you start to think "I can ask the people at Baby Box" and "I got it from Baby Box, so it's the best".
We've experienced the frustrations of not knowing what to buy (there's so many options) and we also know it can be difficult to get out of the house to the shop with little ones in tow. For that reason, from day one we've tried to make things easier for parents.
Our online store actually was set up a lot faster than we originally intended, as our shop renovations took more time than we expected. This has been quite cool though, as it allowed us to sync our online store to our physical store - making things easier for Baby Box customers.
We literally have our online shop available as a physical shop for people to come visit if they need to, or as a catalogue to help you remember what you liked. There's a maximum 15 minute time delay between something selling out in the shop, and it selling out online. Cool, huh?
Our shop is also available as a Facebook shop which makes it really easy for our customers. We're still finding our way with social media, but it is quite nice when customers leave us positive reviews or they have the ability to ask us something quick over Facebook messenger.
We also think people appreciate that when they are buying online there’s a real store and business behind the online shop. It means we can offer a greater level of service than stores that are run around the edges of the founder’s day job.
The other thing we've recently implemented and found to be very popular is Laybuy.com. This is a new way of paying for things where you receive the item right away but pay it off over 6 interest free repayments. Smaller retailers usually only offer this online, but because we have an integrated online/offline store, we’ve also been able to offer this at the counter.
We've been so lucky to be able to provide the convenience of a more integrated store, with online and offline overlaps. Mainly because it's been a focus and priority for us from day one.
Where aren't we so flash with our omnichannel strategy?
Sometimes it's easier for us to offer specials or promotions in the shop, as it can take time to set the same things up on our online store. This means on occasion it's better to actually visit us as there are bonus deals in the shop.
The same goes for new products. Loading them to the website means sourcing photos, and writing a full description of all the features and benefits. It's a lot easier to just put it out on the shop floor!
What does omnichannel retail mean for you?
We hope if you're one of our customers, omnichannel retail means convenience. It's that simple. And also, talk to us about what you want. We've achieved so many great things in our shop already just by listening to customer suggestions.
If you're one of our suppliers, we think it should mean thinking about getting great product photos for your retailers of your product range, so it's easier for us to share and broadcast your product's features and benefits on our website. The faster we can get those photos up, the better. It also enables us to promote your product more widely. And also, please share our website and our details on anything you run - like your website, your Facebook page, your instagram. It means our customers know we are stocking the genuine articles.
If you're another store owner or a business owner more generally, we think you should start talking to other business owners who are integrating online and offline to see whether there's anything you can do better for your customers. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain, in our opinion.