In the midst of the virtual world that COVID-19 has pushed us into, companies of all kinds are looking at better ways to improve the integration of in-person and online purchasing experiences.
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Two big names in the e-commerce and retail industry pushed out updates specifically targeted at omni-channel needs in today’s world. The releases from Shopify and Yelp are specifically intended to help SMBs get the most out of their omni-channel approach to better serve their customers.
For those not familiar, an omni-channel strategy combines the multiple channels by which a user can make a purchase into a seamless experience. In other words, it focuses on how your brick and mortar experience ties into your online buyer process, and beyond.
New Yelp products and features geared toward COVID-19 buyers
These updates are especially important to those that may not have had a strong online presence before, allowing them to continue to drive business.
Among the updates released by Yelp are:
New Virtual Service Offerings now show on business pages allowing users to easily browse businesses that have shifted to virtual offerings such as consultations, trainings, shows, and others. It’s a great way to let folks know that your yoga classes or therapy sessions are still available.
Yelp Connect, which launched in the fall, has been updated to be free for eligible businesses to better communicate and share updates with their customers.
The app will offer a bigger focus on delivery and curbside pickups. Users will be able to sort and filter based on what businesses pivoted to these offerings.
New business highlights will display on your Yelp business listing to clearly illustrate how you’re still doing business during COVID-19 including curbside pickup or delivery availability, and if you’re offering remote services.
Yelp for Business updates were rolled out as well to provide more robust data for business owners and a cleaned-up user interface.
Shopify POS is designed to improve your omni-channel efforts
The relaunch of an updated Shopify POS (Point-Of-Sale) intends to better assist brick and mortar locations in the push toward omni-channel business.
The release aims to “help merchants stay flexible and resilient in the face of challenges to their business today and the ever-changing retail landscape ahead.” according to Shopify’s announcement.
With small businesses, specifically retailers and restaurants, doing everything they can to weather the pandemic, an omni-channel approach is more important than ever.
Utilizing omni-channel and an optimized POS can help improve business. The press release mentions that “merchants who connected their online and in-store sales with Shopify POS saw revenue increase by 30% year over year, fueled in part by merchants who adopted buy-online and pickup-in-store as well as local delivery.”
The 30% revenue increase includes combined online and in-store sales for Shopify merchants with physical store locations making a POS transaction in each of the 12-months of 2018 and 2019.
The POS rebuild includes streamlined reporting for offline and online purchases, “actionable insights on store performance and reporting,” and user interface and experience updates.
Some of the most notable features are real-time inventory management across multiple channels, giving business owners “greater flexibility to pivot inventory to other locations or online based on performance and an improved mobile checkout experience to better serve curbside pickup and delivery.”
What it means for you
If you’re a small business owner, these updates are specifically geared toward helping you weather the storm.
Without the right information, and being able to easily access it, your customers may not know that you’re open for business — and Yelp’s updates should definitely help with that. You’ll want to go into your Yelp for Business account (or start one) and update the information as soon as possible.
On the transaction side, if you’re not leveraging Shopify POS it’s a good idea to check with your current provider on how to improve your reporting, process, and end-user experience.
Putting more effort into keeping your customers informed is even more important with the current state of the world.