Why Omnichannel Matters to Small Businesses

Omnichannel, sometimes called multi-channel, refers to consumers shopping and buying from any channel: online, from their smartphones and from stores. The growth of Omnichannel is an important trend for small businesses. The reason it is important is that shelf space is no longer a limiting factor for having products sold by major retailers.

In the past, in order to get your product into a retailer’s store, you had to displace another supplier already on the shelf. Shelf planagram cycles determined when a supplier might be chosen. Now retailer ecommerce sites can carry a much large assortment of products online than can be displayed in stores.

We are seeing retailers start with online sales to prove the marketability of a new supplier’s products and then move the supplier into brick-and-mortar stores as sales increase. Here are some examples that demonstrate how having products online contributes to increasing sales.

Showrooming by Demographic Group

Showrooming, which has received extensive press coverage, refer to consumers examining products in a store, using a smart phone to compare prices with other retailers, then buying from the least expensive source. Not surprisingly, younger consumers showroom more than older consumers. But older consumers are significant too.

According to a survey by Thrive Analytics, 45% of Baby Boomers age 44 to 53 decided not to make an in-store purchase after checking the smartphone and 37% of Boomers over 53 pulled the plug on a purchase after checking information online with their phone. The number for Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1984) was 62% and for the younger millennials, also known as Generation Y, was slightly higher at 65%.

Reverse Showrooming

“Reverse showrooming,” sometimes called “webrooming,” is a growing trend of consumers to first shopping online, but then go to the physical store to make their purchase. .
It turns out that “reverse showrooming” is more popular that “showrooming.” A recent Harris poll across Gen Xers, Millenials and Baby Boomers found that 69% of those surveyed “reverse showroom” while 46% from all demographics report they showroom.

Forward thinking retailers are fueling the convenience of reverse showrooming by making sure their sales staff are well trained and have access to their online offerings in the store, providing in-store Wi-FI, and in some cases giving in-store discounts to smart phone shoppers.

Bed Bath and Beyond

Bed Bath and Beyond announced in July further omnichannel investments to enhance their customers service capability across online, mobile and in-store channels. The goal is to provide a seamless experience.

An additional distribution center is being added to support direct to consumer and store fulfillment. Consumer pick up in stores after buying online will added. Direct to consumer fulfillment by suppliers continues to be part of what we see our clients participating in with Bed Bath and Beyond.


Target is working on enhancing direct to consumer shipping by suppliers. Target asks many of its suppliers to use both Fed Ex and UPS for the best rate and is looking at how to ship from locations close to their customers to reduce shipping times.

In-Store Fulfillment

Gap rolled out a program during the second quarter that allows consumers to order from its online line catalog while visiting their stores. The program builds on Gap’s reservation service that lets consumers choose items online and then pick them up in a store.

Read more about in-store fulfillment by Macy’s, Toys R Us, Best Buy and Walmart in this post. http://blog.covalentworks.com/fulfilling-web-orders-stores/

Contact us anytime to find out how we can assist your small business with any retailer’s omnichannel EDI requirements.

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