With almost unlimited channels that give access to almost infinite consumers, the age of selling through a single channel is well behind us. For early-adopting merchants, the draw to diversify channels came early: each channel promised the opportunity to win more customers. With the internet, diversifying channels continues to become simpler. We are firmly in the age of multichannel commerce.
The challenge for the growing multichannel merchants is effectively managing these channels at scale in such a way that allows the business to continue to grow organically. Top merchants also need to keep the business agile during growth, all while keeping an eye on core strategy and objective goals while simultaneously monitoring business intelligence analytics to confirm performance.
For the multichannel merchant managing several brands under a retail collective or a brand that is operating in multiple countries under multiple currencies and time zone considerations, the challenge to scale while remaining agile to the market and consumer whims increases exponentially. With many moving parts and much to consider, it’s all too common for merchants to invoke a quick-fix tactic or respond to an immediate pressing need with a quick-but-temporary solution that ultimately sets the business back in both time and money.
No matter where your business finds itself today, there is a better way to plan for multichannel success. Relying on trusted industry experts who take the time to inform you of your strategic options for meeting and exceeding your goals is a core tactic that even the top brands of the world employ – there is just too much to know in the world of multichannel solutions and services to navigate alone. With the right experts on your side, they can help bring the right solutions into play to help you achieve long-lasting and stable growth that allows your business to adjust quickly as the multichannel market continues to evolve.
Multichannel Success: Strategic Arrangement and Meaningful Unification
Especially true for multichannel merchants pursuing many channels – online, offline, B2B, B2C, or any combination of – the challenge of arranging all channels, trading partners, suppliers, applications, and more can be especially complex. For many merchants, growth has been one of simply adding elements on in an as-needed manner. But before long, this tactical approach to growth becomes too complex and intertwined to continue to carry the business forward. Things start to slip through the cracks or outright begin to fall apart.
Part of the issue lies in thinking of channels and suppliers as different from the other connections important to your business’ functionality and ability to deliver on complex but important elements like customer experience. Similarly to the false division between the front-end(s) of your business – ecommerce stores, online marketplaces, and even bricks-and-mortar storefronts – and the technology stack on the business’ back-end that brings everything to life, your sales channels and suppliers should be brought into a singular, unified ecosystem. But it doesn’t end there.
The method by which you choose to unify your business matters: it can improve data flow, business intelligence, customer experience, and data accuracy while saving time and money, or it can hold your business back from reaching its potential. Your data integration platform or partner selection can directly impact your business’ growth for years to come.
Multichannel merchants are already far more complex than the average single-channel business. Yet many multichannel merchants (including enterprise-level merchants) view connecting their back-end technology stack together to form a unified, functional whole as a tactical need to be satisfied when a particular connection between two applications needs to be made. This reactionary and tactical approach to data integration – the act of interconnecting applications so that data can move freely throughout an organization – is exactly that: a stop-gap temporary solution meant to satisfy an immediate need, not one to meet a long-term strategic goal.
With the complexity of data sources, tailoring workflows to meet specific needs, and the additional challenge of layering in business rules for a truly automated system, multichannel retail businesses are far too complex to be served by low-end data integration products.
Plug-and-play solutions are designed to cater to the mass market’s needs, and not the unique needs of a complex business; hard-coded (sometimes referred to as custom coded) integrations are cumbersome, slow, and expensive to keep up-to-date with market and merchant demands. Both of these approaches to data integration are limited in their ability to process large amounts of data effectively, do not allow for any configuration to tailor the integration to your business’ needs, and are stunted in the ability to fulfill strategic objectives for the business. Instead of a truly automated technology stack, merchants choosing these low-end approaches to data integration typically end up with a mess of integrations, none of which accomplish what they were initially installed to do.
But there is a strategic approach to fully integrating and automating your multichannel business. We hence work with VL OMNI in terms of integrations. VL OMNI’s solutions are designed for agility and work at scale. These top solutions include business rules engines that apply key business rules to the data as it is transformed and have the unique ability to move data from one source to many targets, and back again – in real time, or on a schedule that your business defines per data channel.
The result? A single unified back- and front-end technology stack that automates key data flows, married against your business’ strategies and objectives. One that grows as your business and can be modified to accommodate changes with minimal time and cost expenditure. Structured around a single point of data truth, solutions like the ones from VL OMNI are becoming the only solution for cutting-edge multichannel merchants outside of developing a comprehensive in-house IT department.
If you’re a multichannel merchant looking to create a more automated, more strategic future for your business as you scale, add channels, and partners, you can begin today. Contact us for more information.