It’s easy enough to understand why, as a small business owner, you should invest in your business’ online presence. There are many benefits that come from having an online presence, even for a small local shop. But if you really want to make the most out of your website, social media, as well as the ads you place in local papers and the pamphlets you print, you need to unify them into an omnichannel strategy.
An omnichannel strategy, when applied to your small business, means that you will invest in integrating the physical and the digital sides of the business. You can adapt your whole business model into an omnichannel business strategy. You can also decide that you’ll just market your business using an omnichannel marketing strategy. There are different models you can follow to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical. Here are a couple of reasons why you should seriously consider using one of them.
Low Barrier To Entry
It’s never been easier to develop online assets you can use in your omnichannel strategy. Do you need an online store? Look at the hosting options you have available, pick one that supports WordPress, build a website and install WooCommerce. That’s pretty much it. If you’re not sure how to do it on your own, you can easily find help for hire.
Even if you don’t want to have an online store, it’s still easy to reap the benefits of an omnichannel presence. Your physical marketing materials are pointing potential customers towards your store and your Facebook page. At the same time, your online marketing assets are putting feet into your store with some useful local SEO techniques. The basics of local SEO are easy to set up. For anything advanced, there’s plenty of help available.
The Timing Is Perfect
When big retailers that have been dominating the market a decade ago are forced to close their doors, it’s obvious that something important is happening. The key thing we’ve learned from the retail apocalypse that’s been shaking the United States for the past couple of years is that businesses cannot afford to overlook their online presence.
Of course, overextension also plays a large part in how and why so many big retailers had to close shop. For you, however, there’s one thing that matters — to capitalize on their mistakes. That means going after potential customers in any space where you can find them, both offline and online, in a synchronized effort across all channels. It also means doing it right now, before the big businesses that didn’t go underfill all the gaps.
Your Customers Want It
It shouldn’t surprise you that your customers actually want a mixture of the online and the offline in their shopping experience. The trend is even present in grocery shopping, something people usually did only offline. And it spreads across many different industries and product categories.
Your customers will want to use different channels for different purposes. Before making a purchase decision, they will do some research online. They will look for comparisons, but also bargains, giveaways, coupons, and other types of discounts. Some of them will prefer to research in-store, though, right before they buy. Others will buy online if it’s cheaper or more convenient than in the store. Shopping habits of today’s consumers are a mix of online and offline preferences. The more omnichannel your business goes, the more preferences it will be able to cater to.
Your Competitors Are Doing It
Unless you’re the single player in a niche market, you will have to worry about competition. Some big businesses are winning the omnichannel game, making it difficult for small businesses to gain their footing. Amazon, the online retailer which started opening physical stores, is a good example.
But you also have businesses of your size breathing down your neck and fighting for the same customers as you. They will look for every single thing that gives them a competitive edge in the modern business landscape. Sooner than later, they’ll develop an omnichannel strategy of their own. Then they’ll leave you to watch as they swoop into the market and take all your precious leads from you. If you want a fighting chance, you have to implement the newest ways of doing business. Right now, that means developing an omnichannel strategy.
Business models that were viable only a couple of years ago are becoming less feasible by the day. The digital disruption did what it promised — it disrupted. The businesses that want to thrive in the era need to adapt soon. For small businesses, that means using an omnichannel approach for their business model, or their marketing. Or both. It pays to be able to reach potential customers the way they want to be reached, and offer them an experience they will appreciate.