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Omnichannel Marketing: why local retailers need to get on board

Just before New Year’s Eve, a well-known pastry chef with an excellent reputation had prepared a catalog of his productions. They were all more tempting than the others. However, this catalog shocked me and allowed me to publish a plea to develop omnichannel marketing for local retailers.

Omnichannel Marketing pastry

The first page of the pastry shop’s catalog. The name of the pastry shop has been erased.

It’s not the pictures of the delicious Yule logs that shocked me, their descriptions, or their ingredients with impeccable origins. What shocked me was the first page of this catalog and, in particular, the 3rd paragraph:

It’s not the pictures of the delicious Yule logs that shocked me, their descriptions, or their ingredients with impeccable origins. What shocked me was the first page of this catalog and, in particular, the 3rd paragraph:

“The [XXX] bakery would like to wish you a happy holiday season.

Please respect some deadlines to simplify the organization of this important time of the year.
Orders will be placed exclusively at the store and paid for at that time for more rapidity on “D” day. No orders will be accepted by phone or email.

Thank you for reserving your cakes before Sunday, December 18, for Christmas and before Wednesday, December 28, for New Year’s Eve.

We understand that the real motivation of the pastry chef is to avoid unpaid orders. But why forbid the customer from certain ordering channels and force him to come to the store?

Omnichannel Marketing satisfaction

Deteriorating the customer experience is not the way to do business

By prohibiting certain channels for ordering, the baker complicates the customer experience. It makes it impossible for customers who cannot visit the store before the deadline to make their purchases.

By doing so, the retailer limits its customers to a catchment area limited to a few hundred meters around its sales outlet. This is all the more damaging since his reputation went beyond the borders of his neighborhood. He, therefore, missed sales and undoubtedly created a lot of frustration among his customers.

In 2023 it is now possible to take advantage of sales opportunities (see my article on 2023 priorities). With energy costs rising and raw material prices reaching new heights, you must sell as much as possible to make your production tool profitable. I have already discussed in this post the measures to take to protect yourself against the crisis.

Retailers must simplify their customers’ lives.

Proposing solutions regardless of the sales channel

Retailers must simplify their customers’ lives. This requires an increase in technological competence and Omnichannel Marketing management. The retailer must be able to interact with the customer whatever the channel: social media, email, phone, physical sales outlet, and also … website. Our pastry shop’s website does not offer online sales. This is a fatal mistake in 2022 and is properly unacceptable from the customer’s point of view.

I understand that Omnichannel Marketing has a cost: technological and human. You must put the tools in place, bear the cost, and train the teams to manage them. It is also likely that Omnichannel Marketing will initially make it more complex to manage requests for those who are only used to in-store visits. But at a time when 75% of small retailers fear bankruptcy, it is necessary to put all the assets on one’s side to survive. In this context, local retailers cannot afford to ignore Omnichannel Marketing.

battle plan Omnichannel Marketing

A battle plan to implement Omnichannel Marketing

Let’s go back to our pastry chef for a moment. What should he have done? The purpose of this article is not to mock but to be constructive. So, I’m not going to give too many clues to identify him. But rest assured that all the information below is authentic.

Step 1: setting up the minimum channels

Omnichannel Marketing is only possible if your company is present on different channels. Some are indispensable, and others are accessory for a local retailer. The first step is to occupy these channels.

You must have an e-commerce website, a blog (for your SEO), be on Facebook, and have a Google Business listing. This is the absolute minimum. If your business lends itself to it, Instagram is also a must.

Step 2: payment methods for all channels

The second step in your transition to Omnichannel Marketing is to offer payment options for each channel. Customers need to be able to pay on your website, which was not the case with this retailer. They also need to be able to pay by phone or after placing an order by email.

There is no need for complicated solutions. For example, it is perfectly possible to send a PayPal payment link. Of course, there is a 6% commission, but what would you prefer? Make a sale and pay a 6% commission or not make a sale at all.

Step 3: fine-tune your SEO

If you have invested in a website, it would be a shame not to make the most of your investment. So, avoid the most obvious mistakes. The effect on your SEO will be even better.

In the case of our baker, I found a link to a 404 page on the front page (this is deadly). Another sign that the website is not maintained: is the Google + icon. This social network does not exist since April 2019.

In conclusion

The idea of this post was not to make fun of the retailer in question. His qualities are undeniable.

The goal was to show the gap between the modes of consumption in 2023 and our small shops’ digitalization level. Let’s not complain about the e-commerce giants taking over. They take advantage of opportunities offered to them on a plate.

The level of digital maturity of retailers needs to be increased. Until a plan is implemented to bring them up to speed technologically and intellectually, we will be left with nothing but tears in our eyes.


Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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