In 2013, only 13% of Canadian companies were selling on the Internet (source). This statistic is particularly disturbing, with 67% of Canadians expressing that they are more likely to do business with a company that has a website. In addition, 87% of Canadians make purchases online (source). However, this statistic represents many opportunities for Canadian merchants with up to date eCommerce solution.

What is omnichannel Commerce? Omnichannel Commerce allows you to sell in many places online while maintaining centralized inventory management. A true multi-channel solution allows you to track sales not only from your physical brick and mortar store, but also from multiple places across the web while maintaining a synchronized inventory.

This article explores the many benefits of multi-channel commerce for Canadian merchants and addresses some of the biggest issues that are keeping so many companies from selling online.

 

1. Multiply Your Presence Across The Web

In 2018, 46% of consumers started their online searches on Amazon (source). Amazon is often seen as an enemy of brick and mortar merchants. On the contrary, Amazon is a search engine that allows international consumers, who are not current customers, to make purchases directly in your store.

 

The Problem – Duplicate Stock Quantity Management

When a merchant publishes their inventory on several websites, such as Amazon, eBay or even their own site, this results in multiple inventory management, which can be demanding for the owner. For example, if a product is sold in-store, the manager has to update inventory quantities on all the platforms where the product appears.

 

The Solution – Centralized Inventory Management

Omnichannel commerce allows you to increase your web presence without having to increase the time spent manually updating your inventory. By centralizing inventory management and synchronizing online sales with in-store sales, this reduces or even eliminates the high costs and time required for stock quantity management.

Merchants using an omni-channel solution can control and manage their inventory from a single location and make it available on multiple platforms. For example, Alice POS is the first point-of-sale software integrated with LesPac that manages store sales and can easily connect with Amazon, eBay and Ecwid, a platform that can synchronize inventory directly on the merchant’s site. Shopify also offers the option to connect their eCommerce solution to Amazon and eBay, allowing you to synch your inventory across multiple sales channels.

 

2. Selling On Social Networks

Did you know that you can sell via your social media business pages on some social networks? This feature has been available on Facebook for several years now and many others have recently joined the wave allowing you to sell directly to your social followers.

 

The Problem – Little Known Functionality

Knowing that the possibility of selling through social networks is a little-known option for most merchants, and represents a wonderful business opportunity. Some web agencies charge merchants a substantial amount to allow them to take advantage of this option, which exists by default in some e-commerce solutions.

 

The Solution – Jump At The Opportunity

By using Ecwid eCommerce, merchants who use Alice POS can tag their products in their Facebook and Instagram business posts. This means that someone that follows or discovers your content can simply click on the image and buy your product directly from your Facebook or Instagram page, this is an excellent business opportunity! Indeed, among American consumers, 78% have discovered new products on Facebook and 80% of Instagram users follow a company page (that is 800M users!) (source).

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4. Simplify Web Marketing

Web marketing is constantly evolving. What worked perfectly well two years ago will not necessarily work today. In other words, the past is not a guarantee for the future in internet marketing. For example, if you organically post to your Facebook business page your message will only be seen by about 6.5% of your audience, compared to 16% back in 2012. And the visibility is even lower for pages with more than 500k followers at 2% (source).

 

The Problem – Web Marketing Is Expensive

Web marketing represents several issues for many SMB merchants, from a lack of time and technical knowledge to lack of funds and even interest for some. These prevent managers from venturing into this opportunity to acquire new customers.

The Solution – Artificial Intelligence

Web marketing no longer needs to be done by an agency, a developer or the merchant to be effective. Having read the title above, you may think artificial intelligence is much more expensive than working with an agency! In reality, it is not the case.

Some companies are developing integrations between e-commerce solutions and marketing solutions such as Google Ads. Thanks to the SAAS (Software As A Service) model, development, hosting and update costs are shared between several companies, which use these tools to advertise on the web. These tools are paid for based on a fixed monthly or annual basis. Thus, artificial intelligence or automatic ad optimization becomes more competent over time and costs less than if it had been developed for a single business.

For example, merchants who use Ecwid in tandem with Alice POS can automate their Google Shopping ad management with a third party app. Merchants can easily use such apps to reduce their time (learning curve) and costs related to implementing the use of complex marketing platforms in their businesses. This allows merchants to advertise directly on Google without having to pay an agency to do so. The merchant only has to choose the products that will be promoted in Google Shopping, the geographical location where the ads will be displayed and the desired language.

Therefore, marketing AI eliminates the need to hire an agency that would do much the same actions in a more complex interface.

 

4. Harmonize Web And Physical Purchases

Compare your in-store branding with the image your website projects. If you see consistency in the messaging, visuals, content, value proposition and customer experience, then you have done a great job. On the other hand, if you notice any obvious discrepancies, you may need to review the image your online store projects.

The Problem – The In-Store Customer vs. The Web Customer

Unlike the in-store customer, the online customer expects to receive a very specific user experience. They expect to see your unique value proposition, an up-to-date inventory, a site that is mobile-responsive on phones or tablets, photos that represent your actual products, an easy checkout process, and a clear privacy and return policy, to name a few. This is also the case for your brand’s image on social networks and other places where your company is displayed on the web. Be aware that if your website does not work properly on mobile platforms, you are blocking 48% of your web traffic (source).

The Solution – Omnichannel Commerce

Harmonizing web and physical sales can be achieved through omnichannel commerce. It is essential to offer a harmonized customer experience with your brand across all channels, both on the web and in stores.

With the Alice POS / Ecwid integration, you can have a professional and mobile online store. The shop that is displayed on your website is the same one that is visible on your Facebook business page and Instagram shopping. This means the customer can get an outstanding experience without you even having to worry about inventory or standardizing your brand image across multiple platforms.

Is the customer who physically shops in your store the same as the one who shops on your website? If you don’t have the answer, you can check your statistics in Google Analytics to compare your two customer types. You will find information on the gender, age and interests of your active customers on your website (if you have enabled this feature). This information allows you to adapt your web marketing strategy, notably if your in-store and online customers differ.

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5. Manage Everything In Real-Time

Some agencies are still selling extremely expensive websites to SMB’s with basic needs. These prices are often justified by the development of functionalities that will require constant updates, which results in additional expenses long term.

 

The Problem – It Is Expensive To Develop And Maintain

Developing an API connection (or a bridge) between two software platform to allow real-time synchronization of your sales and inventory is expensive. A bridge is not only an expensive initial expense, but also a significant long-term expense due to the need for secure and functional upgrades.

 

The Solution – Existing API Connections (SAAS)

Why pay to have a custom bridge developed, when several companies also need to make the same connections? Thanks to Software as a Service (SAAS), low and fixed fees, paid annually or monthly, cover the costs of updating and constantly developing an existing bridge.

Imagine that you want to sell on Amazon from your point of sale and your e-commerce site. Thanks to the existing bridge between AlicePOS, Ecwid e-commerce and Amazon, you can synchronize your inventory and sales in real time between your point of sale in-store, your website and Amazon.

There is no initial development cost to pay when a bridge already exists. In addition, it is continuously updated with regards to functionality and security. A SAAS formula reduces the financial stress for merchants who can benefit from managing the omnichannel activities of their business from anywhere (mobile and cloud computing) without worrying about unexpected costs.

 

6. Centralize The Management Of The Retail Experience

Canadian retail is struggling to modernize because of consumers who have new expectations that require change. While the Retail Apocalypse is only an allegory (source), the need for retail transformation and modernization is very real.

 

The Problem – Centralize The Management Of Physical And Virtual Operations

We analyzed the different technologies that retail merchants encounter in several aspects:

  • Having an online shop
  • Promoting the online shop
  • Synchronizing physical and virtual inventory
  • Making inventory visible to customers (social networks)
  • Multiplying online presence (sell on international markets)
  • Harmonizing customer experience in store and on the web
  • Centralizing, real-time inventory management

Omnichannel commerce is an excellent solution to these issues.

 

The Solution – An Omnichannel Point Of Sale

Alice POS is an all-in-one point-of-sale system designed for multi-site store networks such as franchises, buying groups and corporate networks. Alice POS is also a very powerful solution for single store owners looking for an all-in-one point of sale. Alice POS centralizes business operations and harmonizes web and multi-store management.

In addition, with Alice POS, you can synchronize your web and physical inventory through our connections with Shopify, WooCommerce and Ecwid eCommerce. All three solutions are able to connect to eBay and Amazon via third-party applications. This allows you to synchronize your virtual and physical inventory on to international platforms.

The connection with Alice POS and Ecwid also allows you to sell on social networks like Instagram and Facebook, and advertise using artificial intelligence on various platforms, such as Facebook, Google Shopping, Google Ads with third party apps. Ecwid has also launched a new feature to easily advertise on Pinterest and Snapchat. Both Alice POS and Ecwid eCommerce are constantly being developed to meet the changing needs of the retail industry and to provide merchants with state-of-the-art solutions.

 

Related Questions

We already have a website that has cost us a lot of money and we do not want to start over. Can we add an online store to our existing website?

If you have a WordPress, Wix or Weebly website, you can easily replace your current e-commerce store in your existing site with the one Alice POS offers using Ecwid. Ecwid is a widget and can therefore be installed in most existing website builders. You can also synchronize your current inventory with your WooCommerce or Shopify store if you already have these solutions.

 

My point of sale is physically located in my shop. Is that a problem? 

If your current point of sale is physically installed in your store, you may encounter multiple problems. A locally installed point of sale presents risks of data loss (in case of fire, flood, etc.), lack of remote data access, lack of updates and security, not to mention technical assistance. Alice POS is a SAAS and cloud point of sale in with support and updates included in the monthly fee.

 

Changing my point of sale will not be an easy task!

It does not have to be complicated. At Alice POS, we offer an unparalleled migration service. We take care of importing your data, initial team training, and technical support throughout your use of our software. We have established Alice POS in large networks and are used to assist both large and small stores.

This article was originally written in French by Daniella, Director of Operations at Alice POS for CQCD’s TAG event. Daniella is an Ecwid e-commerce expert and has been selling online for over 10 years.

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